Profile in Courage in Public Education: Kimberly Miller

Dale McDaniel, Kimberly Miller, Flip Herndon

Kimberly Millier, Hood Canal School District Board of Directors

“I am by nature a fisherman and a gatherer,” says Kimberly Miller, recipient of the December 2023 Profile in Courage Award. “Professionally, I have worked as a fisherman for our tribe. Then I served as a Director of Culture for eight years, and finally a director of social services for the Skokomish tribe.” Through all of that, “I gathered our families and students. 'Gathering' is not hard work with families because I ask, ‘What can we do for you?’ and we then can help families succeed.”

Kimberly works as a student advocate with the courts, schools, and even within the students’ own families. She is a social worker everywhere…gathering children.

During the pandemic, Kimberly was worried about losing connection with her families. So, she organized small-group instruction when the schools were shuttered. Her families appreciated that. And her success is not hard to quantify. Kimberly and her program recently celebrated a significant accomplishment: Every Skokomish high school senior from her caseload graduated from Shelton High School this year. And, total school attendance increased to 90%. Her colleagues were so impressed with her success that she was appointed to an open school board position at the Hood Canal School District. On November 7, she was elected to a four-year position on the board.

“We have had a great deal of turnover among administrators at Hood Canal,” Kimberly said. However, her belief in the power of culture provides a bridge between the district and the Skokomish Tribe. This creates a relationship that goes far beyond individual families and staff members. “The Skokomish Tribe pays for tutors at Shelton High School, and so the trick to our success is that we case-manage each family. We still do home visits. That preserves relationships.”

Along the way, Kimberly was trained in evidence-based practices at the University of Washington. This taught her how to write grants and enjoy the science of research.

At home, Kimberly cares for an adult daughter who came through the entire special education continuum in Shelton and Hood Canal.  “I learned about 504s and I.E.P.s from a parents’ point of view.  This helped me as an advocate for some of the Skokomish people,” she said.

Dr. Pam Farr, who sits on the board of directors at Capital Region ESD 113, says that Kimberly is tenacious. “She is persistent. If you do not answer her calls, she will come find you. She asks tough questions. She speaks out when things are not right. She gets things done,” says Pam.

Thank you for all that you do for the children and families in Mason County.

Would you like to nominate someone for our Board of Directors to honor as a profile in courage?

  • Any employee, resident, volunteer, or student in one of the 44 school districts and one tribal school represented by Capital Region ESD 113 is eligible to submit candidates to Dale McDaniel for consideration.
  • Please keep submissions to 400 words or less. Photos are encouraged.
  • A small committee will review the applications. The Board Chair will read one selection each month prior to our Board meeting. In addition, that month’s submission will be prominently featured on our ESD 113 website.

Think about the heroes in your life who have done courageous things to support our students and staff members. We want to honor the wonderful role models who have been working in our public schools!