Remembering Midlothian Legend LaRue Miller
Greatness can be humbling, or, as in the case of folks like LaRue Miller being humble is what makes them great.
Miller, who passed away on February 3, became a legend in the Midlothian School District because of her love of giving. She not only gave her elementary school students an education for 45 years, she gave them inspiration. Instilling in them the belief that the best in life was theirs if they would only reach for it, and faith that they had her support for the rest of their lives.
Now, after her recent passing, the city and school district remember Miller and the lasting imprint she had on education in Midlothian. Drive down Sudith Lane and there is a large tribute, an elementary school named after her.
Miller’s reaction when she heard the news of a school opening? She was humbled, of course.
LaRue Miller Elementary
“The most exciting moment in my life was when Dr. (J.D.) Kennedy (former), superintendent of schools, called me and told me wanted to be the first to tell me that the new elementary school No. 6 had been named after me,” she said.
Why was she excited? Of course she was honored, as anyone would be, but said best of all it was a new building for lots of great teachers to teach so many precious children.
Children were precious to her. She spent her life making sure theirs was as fulfilling as possible.
“My fourth-grade teacher, she made every day count, and never forgot to give us hugs,” recalled Gina Adams. “Her room was home, and we will never forget her.”
Pamela Norrell Phipps has fond memories of Miller after almost five decades.
“She was such a sweet and kind lady, and my fourth-grade teacher 48 years ago. She will be missed by so many. I am grateful to have been one of her students. Prayers for her daughter and family,” Phipps said.
“I loved her. She was so kind and smart,” said Lisa Armstrong Hyles. “She even substituted for me when I taught kindergarten in Midlothian. Heaven gained a precious angel.”
An Unmatched Love For Teaching
That’s how much Miller loved teaching. For many years after her retirement in 1994 she continued to substitute teach, often at the school named after her.
Teaching was all she ever wanted to do. Immediately upon graduating from Paul Quinn College in 1949, she did two things that would shape the rest of her life. She married the love of her life, Arthur Miller and started her teaching career – returning to where she attended herself through eighth grade, Booker T. Washington School in Midlothian.
She would graduate high school from Oak Lawn School in Waxahachie in 1945. In 1966, she was one of three African American teachers assigned to teach at J. R. Irvin Elementary.
Not only did Miller inspire her students, she lifted up their parents and all other adults with whom she came in contact.
“Mrs. LaRue Miller enriched the lives of her students, her teaching colleagues, and anyone else who was lucky enough to get to know this wonderful lady. She was a beautiful lady with a beautiful spirit. She loved her students and they loved her. The story of her life and how she worked to become a teacher is an inspiration, said Jim Norris, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations.
“On a personal note, I don’t remember a time when I would be talking to Mrs. Miller that she didn’t ask about my wife and sons. I worked with Mrs. Miller for many, many years at MISD. I will miss her and her smile in the coming years.”
Her Legacy Lives On At LaRue Miller Elementary
LaRue Miller Elementary Principal Shannon West is reminded of Miller’s legacy every day when she arrives at work. She said that legacy is a daily encouragement to try and emulate the things that separated Miller from all others in the teaching world and life.
“Mrs. Miller left a legacy for the students, staff, and community members that walk the halls of her namesake school. Through her example, she showed us how to be brave, take risks, and make positive changes,” West said. “She was kind and exuded joy through everyday interactions and will be missed.”
On her blog, the Van Am Gram, former LaRue Miller Elementary Principal Beth Van AmBurgh posted a tribute to Miller, calling her an iconic legend. She shared one of Mrs. Miller’s favorite philosophies.
One of Miller’s favorite philosophies:
“You must first be who you really are and then do what you need to do in order to have what you need and want in life. The smiles and trials will come and go but your true self should always shine the brightest.”
Van AmBurgh began her tribute by writing, “This world lost a treasured soul yesterday. This one is for you, LaRue Miller…may you rest softly in eternal Love, grace, peace, and learning, beautiful sainted one.”
Nancy Bergvall worked on the fourth-grade team with Miller years ago. About her late friend, she said, “If there’s a lunch table in Heaven, I hope to get a seat close to LaRue.”