Vashon High School (VHS) math teacher Lisa Miller was awarded Vashon Island School District’s (VISD) coveted “Doors of Opportunity” award on Aug. 23, at VISD’s all-staff Welcome Back event, where she received a standing ovation from her peers.
Each year, the school community selects a VISD staffer who fits the criteria of “a person who by grit, by deed and by example, in and out of the classroom, opens numerous and varied doors for opportunity for their students” to win the prize.
The award is sponsored by the district’s FACE (Family And Community Engagement) organization.
During the presentation of the award, excerpts from Miller’s nominations for the prize were read aloud, including one that described her love of math as “infectious — and her commitment is that all students will love math.”
Miller, who has a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Washington, has taught a wide variety of math classes at VHS since 2014. She has also served in leadership roles such as being math department chair and the vice president of the Vashon Education Association for multiple years.
In an email response to a question about what she loves most about teaching, Miller responded with praise for her students’ work and behavior in the classroom.
“I love how they can surprise me still with how kind and accepting they are of each other,” she said. “I love hearing them talk about a complicated math problem, and how excited they are when they figure it out together. I love when they realize how smart and capable they are. I love when they help each other, and I love when they make a mistake and laugh at it, and get back to work.”
She said she was very honored to have received the Doors of Opportunity Award.
“It means a ton to me to have students, staff and families appreciate the work that I do with my students,” she said. “I work really hard for them, but there are so many variables that it is easy to second guess yourself. Reading the kind words that people wrote about what my work means to them was very affirming.”
Danny Rock, principal of VHS, said that the high school was lucky to have Miller as a teacher.
“Lisa is described by students as being tough but kind, supportive and creative, and an excellent communicator,” Rock said. “What I see in the classroom is someone who is thoroughly prepared each day, yet flexible to respond to the students in front of her. She is humble and seeks out feedback from students on how their learning experience is going.”
This isn’t the first time Miller has been recognized for her high achievement in the classroom.
In 2020, she was one of 24 exceptional Washington State teachers to win a Teacher of the Week award from Seattle Mariners Radio Network, WSECU and ESPN.
Selected from a field of hundreds of nominees, Miller’s award came with a $500 classroom grant to Miller and a $500 award to VHS.