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PowerUp initiative inspires veteran educator to delay retirement

2013 October 31
by HISD Communications

In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Manager Angela Miller talks about why she put off retirement, the joy of working with teachers, and the prestigious award she received last year.

So what exactly does a secondary social studies curriculum manager do?

Angela Miller

I go out to the schools and work directly with teachers. I also write grants. I have written four Teaching American History Grants for a total of $6.5 million. Thanks to a grant, we were able to take a group of teachers to Boston for training this past summer. My grant-writing keeps me connected to teachers. There are two things that are critical for a curriculum manager: 1) never stop writing and 2) stay connected to teachers.

I hear you received an award for your work earlier this year. What was it?

I was named Supervisor of the Year by the Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association. It is a great honor.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My connection with teachers brings me joy. They bring me ideas; they tell me what they need and what their students need. I work with social studies teachers across the district, improving their access to content and instructional strategies. Teachers are the content intellectuals in the classroom.

You planned to retire last year. Why did you change your mind?

I had just turned 65, and I had planned to retire in December of 2012. In the fall of 2012, however, I was asked to serve on the PowerUp Committee. The opportunity to be part of this exciting new initiative (which gives every HISD high school student a laptop) was just too exciting to pass up. When The Rice School opened in 1994, I was there teaching Texas history, and Hewlett Packard donated all these computers to the school. Suddenly, I had 30 computers in my classroom. Facing those machines, I felt so lost – I had no idea how to use them to teach. Now I feel called upon to make sure the PowerUp teachers don’t feel that way.

What is it about PowerUp that appeals to you?

The concept intrigues me. I want to help integrate this great tool into the classroom, so that students have access to quality information – it’s a whole new mindset. They are no longer limited by the four walls of the classroom; they will have access to global resources and can take control of their own learning. I want to help show teachers and students what is possible.

How is PowerUp going to help students be more successful?

First of all, I don’t ever want the computer to replace the teacher. We are working with instructional technology specialists to rewrite the curriculum in a way that uses the laptops to make lesson plans more interesting and productive. Now students can continue their work at home more easily.

How will PowerUp help history teachers specifically?

You can’t just teach dates and dead people – you have to put the “story” in “history.” The only finite thing in teaching is the actual time you have in the classroom. With laptops, you can expand the learning time outside of school. They say that school is a place where students come to watch teachers work, but I believe that school should be a place where teachers watch students work.

Do you think you will continue to work for the district?

I am going to wait and see how it goes. As long as I look forward to coming to work every day, I might as well stay.

If you know a graduate, student, employee, or other member of Team HISD who should be featured here, please email us at
2 Responses leave one →
  1. Beatriz Arnillas permalink
    November 1, 2013

    Bravo Angela!

  2. Gloria Lanier permalink
    November 6, 2013

    I have retired from H.S.I.D. too soon.
    I am so proud to have worked in the history department, middle school with Angela Miller’s guidance. She and her staff are very professional and gave me a great deal of support in teaching history.
    Angela Miller is a great person, intelligent, highly informed and sharing. I always wished I could work for her and learn more. She is one of the most awesome people I have ever met.
    Best Wishes,
    Gloria Lanier

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