31 May, 2021
Farewell to Miss Miller
It was a bittersweet day on Friday (21 May) as Clifton State High School (CSHS) said goodbye to the retiring Miss Margaret Miller, the Head of Senior School - and a staff member dating back to 1987 - who has had a lasting impact on the students, staff, parents and wider Clifton community over the past 34 years.
A special morning tea was held at the school in her honour and later, a retirement dinner at Inbound Bistro in Toowoomba.
Margaret Miller retired after a career spanning nearly 47 years.
Over the years, as the school changed, she changed job description, to Head of Junior School and later Head of Senior School.
Now that she has retired, Miss Miller has no shortage of things she would like to do.
She has already started work on big renovations for her home in Toowoomba, as well as researching her family history and the history of the property-upon which she grew up near Camooweal in north-western Queensland.
She also plans to squeeze in painting, quilting and writing poetry.
In 1974, Miss Miller began teaching at Mount Isa State High School, a very large high school with about 1,400 students, but moved to Kalkadoon State High School as English Subject Master in 1979 when the first cohort was starting year 10.
She helped to develop the English Department in the school where she also introduced the subject speech and drama.
Miss Margaret Miller at the Clifton State High School library.
In 1987, she started work at CSHS as English Subject Master.
She later became Curriculum Master with responsibility for the total curriculum.
As well as serving the local school, Miss Miller made a strong contribution to her district – as District Panel Chair for the Board of Senior and Secondary School Studies for many years and she organised service activities for English teachers across the district.
For many years, she was a tutor and lecturer of the English Method subject at the University of Southern Queensland, helping to prepare teachers of English across the state.
In 2001, she was seconded to Queensland Schools Curriculum Council as a member of the Years 1-10 English syllabus writing team.
In 2005, while at Queens-land Studies Authority, Miss Miller joined a group of principals and deputy principals from across Australia on a study tour of India where she taught for a week in Delhi Public School in Gaziabad and lived with an Indian family.
She returned to Clifton in 2006 as Head of Junior School but took time out of teaching for a year and a half in 2009.
After returning to Clifton in 2010, she assumed the responsibility of Head of Senior School and set the target of a QCE success rate of 100 per cent, which the school met after three years to her great professional satisfaction.
Miss Miller’s commitment to the teaching of English in Queensland was recognised when she was awarded the Peter Botsman Award in 2006 in the “Beyond School” category.
This award, which is peer-nominated, was made in recognition of her “tremendous contribution to the teaching of English in Queensland over the last ten years in particular.”
The award citation mentioned “she has held a variety of highly responsible curriculum oversight and development positions over years 1 to 10 and has devoted enormous energy to developing and ensuring quality syllabus and teaching and assessment practice.”
In 2021, she was thrilled when Adam Davy, one of her previous students from Clifton State High School, received the award.
In 2017, when English Teachers Association of Queensland celebrated its
50th anniversary as a professional organisation, Miss Miller was profiled on its website as one of the outstanding classroom performers in English.
Miss Miller and her friend and colleague, Robyn Colwill also collaborated on the writing of five highly successful textbooks written to support the syllabus changes from 2001 to 2020.
In 2019, she was thrilled to receive the Clifton Cultural Award on Australia Day.
The award recognised her work with the History Project, a collaboration between CSHS, the Clifton and District Historical Society, Clifton RSL Sub-Branch and The Clifton Courier.
Miss Miller, with the help of this grouping was successful in writing a submission to the Centenary of Anzac Committee to restore the World War I Honour Board and research and produce a book on the local soldiers of that conflict.
It also recognised her involvement with the mural initiative at CSHS during which the year 10 art students over a four year period produced a collaborative mural housed in the school’s multi-purpose shelter.
Miss Miller said there are two things from her career of which she is proudest.
The first is her introduction of the subjects speech and drama at Kalkadoon State High School, as this gave students the opportunity to explore their creativity.
Miss Miller said when she introduced speech and drama, she felt she needed credibility in those areas.
“I became involved with the local theatrical society and even became Director of Productions.
“We had a great team that year and produced a number of really challenging plays as well,” she said.
Drama is still a subject offered in the school, now known as Spinifex College.
Acclaimed actress Deborah Mailman is a product of this course.
The second is the afore-mentioned History Project, which saw a number of activities over four years.
Miss Miller said the enterprise involved considerable outside school hours work.
“The work with the History Project was practically a second job as I worked on it every night and weekend for four years.
“I was really proud of the work done by students and the impact that it had on them,” she said.
Miss Miller said she has always believed in her students’ abilities and has had high expectations in the classroom.
In terms of outcomes in the Senior School, she had the mottos “Because I know they can deliver” and “They do when believed in and challenged to succeed.”
Reflecting on her career, Miss Miller believes there is an advantage to working country schools.
“I have worked in country schools because I believe bush kids can do extraordinary things and I have seen many of the students I have taught go on to do just that.”