WARSAW — Andrea Miller doesn’t take for granted being able to teach art in a public school. In some school corporations, art was removed from the curriculum for budgetary — and other — reasons.
Miller, who teaches art to roughly 850 K through sixth grade students between Washington Elementary in Warsaw and Claypool Elementary, can trace her interest in and love for art back to her childhood days. “I was interested in art and planned on being a teacher, an artist or both,” she said.
She grew up in Gas City, Ind., and graduated from Mississinewa High School in 2000. She then earned an undergraduate degree in art education and metals from Ball State University in 2005 and a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in 2011.
Prior to coming to Warsaw Community Schools in 2014, Miller’s resume includes three years of teaching art at NorthWood High School in Nappanee, teaching art in classes at colleges in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and doing carpentry work for construction companies in Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Early on, she was particularly attracted to three-dimensional artwork to include woodworking, metal working, fiber arts and construction. She is able to do some of that in a studio behind her house including metal work, custom made jewelry projects and designing and building projects more sculptural in nature.
A friend at NorthWood sort of “lured” her to teaching in the Warsaw school system. Miller said she likes the idea of “being just a little bossy and working with people.” She teaches basic skill building to include drawing, painting, ceramics and design.
She said she enjoys being able to take her experience of making things and working with her hands and meshing it with working with people. “I like being able to bring those skill sets together,” she said.
Miller’s creativity led to receiving a Lilly Endowment teaching grant. In June she will embark on a five-week journey to the Southwest with a rebuilt vintage camper. She will visit and camp in national parks and also get to travel on historic Route 66. “I may do some quilting and sketch the landscape,” she noted.
In addition, Miller is working to put an exhibit together for the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca, N.Y., set to open in 2020. And once each year, she travels to Brooklyn, N.Y., to teach a powder coating workshop.
Knowing art is sometimes not high on the priority list of academic subjects taught in Indiana and elsewhere, Miller said she strives to connect art projects “back to what they are learning in their classes.”
When not teaching art or creating it in her studio, Miller enjoys running, yardwork, traveling, gardening and getting outdoors. She also enjoys spending time with Albert, her wire haired dachshund.