SAN ANTONIO — She was adamant she would never be a teacher. Little did she know, it was her destiny. And turns out, it was the best decision of her life.
Mrs. Brenda Miller is one of the top teachers at East Central Independent School District, and our KENS 5 EXCEL Winner.
You’ll find her hanging out with her students several days a week, just outside East Central High School.
For as long as she remembers, she "dreamed as a little girl in this school district of being a scientist,” Miller said. “It’s my earliest memory -- 2nd and 3rd grades. I got my first microscope when I was 8. It’s here in the classroom.”
Loving science is one thing, but teaching it -- Miller said that wasn’t exactly her plan. "Actually, I was adamant I wasn’t going to become a teacher. I wanted to work in a lab.”
For the longest time, she was not teaching until she "became a Texas Naturalist Master because it was a chance to volunteer in the community to engage in restoration and conservation projects."
Miller said she immediately knew it was her calling.
“It was a little problematic because I kept calling the teachers and kept asking them, 'Well, did they need more information? Do you need me to answer any questions? Did they use the information?'" said Miller. "I was hungry. I was hungry for my own classes.”
Naturally, the next step was to get her own science class, so her mid-life crisis was a bit different. “I was 40 and a little bit out of my mind to start with the young ones. But they are inspiring every day."
Miller followed her newfound passion and took a leap of faith. “It’s not a lot of people that are reaching their middle age that get lucky enough to find where they belong. I feel like being a kid again being with the kids in class," Miller said.
Principal Shame McKay says she’s got the entire school talking "to ignite them with that same level of passion and enthusiasm that she has, and now they’re talking about it in lunchrooms. They’re talking about it on the bus. They’re talking about it in between games," Miller said.
The Principal, along with the East Central ISD Superintendent, were among those present when KENS 5 honored Miller.
“As you can tell, Ms. Miller absolutely loves the subject she teaches science,” Superintendent Roland Toscano said. “But she loves her subjects, her students, much more. And it’s very rare in life when our passion and our purpose and our gifts intersect, and Brenda is a shining example of that.”
Despite all her energy, Miller was almost speechless, and even a little emotional.
“Our KENS 5 Excel award only goes to the best of the best. And you have made it there,” Anchor Sarah Forgany said, “On behalf of KENS 5 and Credit Human teams, I would like to present you with our KENS 5 Excel award this morning.”
The award includes a $1,000 check from Credit Human.
“Not everyone gets to do their hobby while feeling personally necessary every day. These two on the screen have made the last 12 years teaching here a dream," said Miller.
Miller teaches Aquatic and AP Science, and for a good portion of her classes, she’s outside. This outdoor haven, classroom is something she actually helped build.
“It contains benches. It was built with our woodshop teacher, and my dad and 23 students. We constructed it ourselves it’s awesome," said Miller.
Not only is it a chance to breath some fresh air, but it’s a way for her to teach these kids what’s truly in their backyard.
“I take them into the field and I show them, 'What do you see here?' We begin with observation of what they see. Well it’s a tree. 'What’s on the tree? What’s under the tree? How is the tree responding seasonally?' It’s a matter of opening their eyes to what they already know," said Miller.