Congratulations to Ms. Mildred Mills, REOC Business and Information Technology Instructor for receiving the New York Association for Continuing/Community Education (NYACCE) 2015 Honorable Mention.
Ms. Mildred Peggs Mills for the Outstanding Adult Educator has an unwavering dedication and commitment to her profession and her students that consistently exceeds expectations and goes above and beyond her paid teaching obligation. Her background as an adult educator over the past 38 years encompasses a depth and breadth that one finds in a veteran educator who has embraced a variety of teaching roles in adult education.
Ms. Mills graduated from Jackson State University with a B.S. Degree in education and from Nazareth College of Rochester with a M.S. Degree in Business Education. Ms. Mills’ teaching experience began in 1977 at the Urban League of Rochester. She taught keyboarding and filing for four years in the Advanced Clerical Training Program to city and county residents. During the evening hours, she taught secretarial science classes to students enrolled in the Sawyer School of Business. In this capacity, she taught clerical subjects, such as Gregg shorthand, Stenoscript, and keyboarding using IBM Memory Typewriters and Wang Word Processors.
In 1981 Ms. Mills came to the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC) as a business instructor in the Business Skills Department. She has seen the department name change several times in her tenure (presently called Business & Information Technology) at REOC, but the true core of the department still remains the same – teaching adults vocational skills that lead to gainful employment. Employing her teaching skills and knowledge of business subjects, she diligently taught day and evening courses in both the Office & Administrative Support and Medical Secretary Programs.
One of the ways Ms.Mills has used her experience to progress and improve as an adult educator is in her versatility and flexibility in teaching a myriad of theory and application courses over the years. Because of the multitude of courses falling under the Business & Information Technology Department, Ms. Mills has proven herself to be a resourceful and adaptable instructor by the courses she has taught, such as Microsoft Word & Excel, Medical Billing and Coding, Medical Transcription, Business English, Math for Careers, Customer Service, Records Management, Office Procedures, and many other courses. She has continued to learn about computers, software and technology from the onset of her teaching experience. Showing growth and flexibility with learning to teach A.B. Dick Magna III and Wang Word Processors, to Apple computers to the present personal computers, Ms. Mills continues to embrace continuing growth, flexibility, and willingness to meet the needs of the students and the department. Working hard to continual improve herself as an adult educator, stay current in her profession, and to apply this new knowledge to the classroom, Ms. Mills has attended numerous workshops and training opportunities, such as Microsoft Office, website development, SMART Board interactive whiteboard training, ICD-10 Diagnostic Coding, and Moodle training, a course learning management system. As is true to her character, Ms. Mills has willingly presented computer training workshops to her colleagues through professional development presentations. As a testament to her dedication to the teaching field, she was twice selected by her peers to receive an Excellence in Teaching award.
Over the years, Ms. Mills has shown an awareness of the whole student and addressing each student’s needs other than purely academic. Ms. Mills’ vocational and humanist philosophy of teaching speaks to respecting adults, their experience and knowledge base, and providing relevant instruction suited to their needs. Aware that educating adults is comprised of many different facets, she accepts each adult learner as an individual who is motivated to learn and adapts her teaching style to individual student learning styles. By interfacing instructor presentations with student-directed activities, Ms. Mills crafts and delivers lessons that keep the whole student engaged in the learning process. Employing both individual and group work, she fosters communication, cooperation, and problem-solving skills to continual develop the whole individual. Over the years Ms. Mills has contributed in many different ways to students’ needs by assisting the students both inside and outside of the classroom. Watch closely and you will find her offering to drive students home or to a doctor’s appointment. If a student lacks basic clothing items, she will often find clothing items from her own closet to donate to students in need. Ms. Mills always find a way to go the extra mile for the students because of her belief that it takes a comprehensive support system to enable each student to become successful citizens in the community.
Often personal experience is the best teacher, and this is the case with presenting subject matter and materials in interesting and understandable ways that are relevant to students’ lives. Relating one’s own life experiences, incorporating family life, and real-life situations into learning is one way Ms. Mills presents material that proves to be relevant to students. She often invites alumni into her classes to present their positive and successful career and life stories. Ms. Mills works diligently to provide a warm, inviting and positive classroom community of learners, promoting learning and celebrating achievements at many junctures along the way. Ms. Mills celebrates student goals by visually depicting student progress, complimenting and acknowledging student success, and providing a safe and comfortable learning environment. When not in front of the classroom, Ms. Mills is often seen counseling students on a day-to-day basis, speaking with them individually and showing an interest and compassion with each student.
The impact Ms. Mills has had on students and student learning over the past 38 years is reflected in the written instructor evaluations that speak to her caring and giving nature, her dedication to the teaching profession, and to embracing the success of each adult learner. The students are quoted as saying she explains course materials clearly, she willingly provides extra help, she makes course materials fun and enjoyable, she has a likable style of teaching, she provides a great learning experience, she shows patience and concern for students, she is an understanding and kind person, she has the ability to make students feel comfortable, and she is a wonderful teacher. We concur that Ms. Peggs Mills is indeed both a wonderful role model and a wonderful teacher. Thank you, Ms. Mills, for your dedication to the teaching profession!