Central’s Heather Miller named educator of the year

Heather Miller

Heather Miller, special education and LIFE teacher at Central High School in Woodstock, has been named the Shenandoah County Arc Educator of the Year.

She was recognized on March 20 at the Northern Shenandoah Valley Arc chapter’s 41st Annual Awards banquet at Shawnee Fire Hall near Winchester, Shenandoah County Public Schools announced in a news release.

“I didn’t know that I was even nominated,” she said in a Thursday phone interview.

Arc’s mission is promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Miller said she’s humbled by her award.

Others awarded last Friday included youth and adults with disabilities who have advocated for themselves in their communities, she said.

The LIFE program at Central High School stands for Learning Independence for Everyday and has enrolled 13 post-graduate special education students in a program that focuses on the Virginia Department of Education’s four specific special education goals for transition: developing independence for employment, independent living, post-secondary training and self-determination.

The class meets in an apartment space renovated from the girls’ locker room at Central High to include a kitchen, living room and dining room area.

Last summer, Miller developed a partnership with a James Madison University professor who teaches students enrolled in courses in the Exceptional Educational Department.

The Arc award belongs to a team of individuals that includes two instructional assistants, an aide for one student, two job coaches and Melissa Hensley, principal at Central, Miller said.

“I can’t do it by myself, it’s all about the team.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com