The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Teacher’s love for literature extends beyond her work

    It appears as if a monstrous toy chest has exploded.
    Bookcases with every children’s book imaginable spread from wall to wall. Toys fill every nook and cranny on the shelves, overflowing to carts and boxes and even a desk in the corner.
    However, the child’s wonderland is not a playroom. The desk is not used to play school, and the soft-voice and the glasses coming from behind the teacher’s desk do not belong to an imaginative 7-year-old.
    They belong to a woman for whom children are her life-a woman who teaches others how to teach children.
    Nancy Verhoek-Miller, a professor of curriculum and instruction at Mississippi State said that she remembers playing school when she was a child.
    “I always knew I wanted to teach,” Miller said. “I enjoy sharing the love of literacies, and I love people of all ages. It all just meshes.”
    She not only collects and appreciates literature, she is a writer herself. Miller has written a variety of children’s pieces, ranging from a children’s storybook about MSU for third-graders, to a historical fiction novel geared toward middle school children.
    She is currently working on an adolescent novel about a young man, his grandfather and great-grandfather.
    “Reading and writing are very much who I am,” Miller said. “I’m such a big believer in doing what your heart tells you. You might not end up with billions of dollars, but if it is something tells you to do it, you just need to do it.”
    Miller’s students say that her love of teaching is evident in the classroom.
    “It is obvious to me that she enjoys what she does and she truly cares about her students,” senior Rachel Virgess said. “She is an inspiration to all that she comes across and a role-model for future educators.”
    However, Miller inspires more than just future teachers. She also heads the Children’s Reading Conference which invites preschool children to campus for a day of literature.
    Miller said that one of the greatest parts of her job is “getting to do book talks and storytelling with all the little children.”
    She even said that storytelling was a common joy she has shared with her husband, Duane Miller, a psychology professor at MSU.
    She said that a mutual friend told her that she needed to meet Duane, but that he was really shy. It took a little while before he finally introduced himself.
    “In the cafeteria he came over to talk to me in June of ’92,” Miller said. “Three months later he got down on one knee and proposed in the cafeteria.”
    “It touched my heart. It makes the connection to MSU even greater,” she added.
    Today makes 11 years that Nancy and Duane Miller have been married.
    Duane said that Nancy has always had such childlike happiness.
    “She’s genuine and that’s the way she’s been as long as I’ve known her,” Duane Miller added.
    Her students agreed.
    “I would describe Dr. Miller as a sweet, generous and caring individual,” Virgess said. “She is always ready to lend a helping hand.”
    Maybe someone will give Miller a helping hand in reorganizing her library of books, packed in her office like the multi-colored balls in the ball pit at McDonald’s.
    Either way, her room will remain a shrine of children’s literature and a place where anyone who enters is sure to smile when greeted by the imaginative 7-year-old at heart.

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    Teacher’s love for literature extends beyond her work