Mayanka Dhingra, Staff Writer

Camille Miller, Sixth Grade Dean and beloved member of the school community for nearly 40 years, passed away last Saturday after a long battle with cancer. 

“Mrs. Miller exemplified everything anyone could want in a grade dean or classroom teacher. We have so much to learn from the example she set, her work ethic alone was second to none,” Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly said.

Initially hired as a Lower Division (LD) math teacher in 1980, Miller became the Department Chair of Mathematics and Team Leader of the Sixth Grade while still at the elementary school. In 1999, when the school established the current middle school, Miller was made Dean of the Sixth Grade, a position she held for 19 years.

Miller was intimately involved with the process of integrating the sixth grade as part of the new Middle Division (MD), which she worked closely with former Head of MD Marion Linden to create, Head of MD Robin Ingram said.

Miller is the best example of what an educator and dean should be, Associate Director of MD Athletics Robert Harmon said. Harmon started at the school under Miller as assistant math teacher before joining the Physical Education Department.

What made Miller special was that she was not simply a nine to five colleague, but a friend whose door was always open, Harmon said. Students were not just numbers to her, and it was clear to everyone that knew her that she cared deeply about those around her, he said.

Miller always knew how to make people feel better and had a special way of calming students down, Emily Yu (11), Miller’s former advisee, said.

MD science teacher Michelle Amilicia, who served as the interim Sixth Grade Dean during Miller’s absence, believes Miller was made for the job of sixth grade dean, she said.

“It takes someone really special to be able to joke around with the kids and at the same time maintain the level of professionalism that Mrs. Miller did,” Amilicia said.

Miller first took a leave of absence during November of the 2014-15 school year upon learning she was ill, but returned to the school after spring break that same year. 

Last August, the school learned Miller‘s illness would prevent her from working during the 2017-18 school year, Amilicia said.

One of Miller’s lasting contributions to the school is “her tireless and enthusiastic approach to creating a program to help welcome students into the Middle Division through the sixth-grade orientation at Dorr,” Director of the John Dorr Nature Laboratory Glenn Sheratt said.

Miller attended every single Dorr program for the sixth grade during her time at the school and was always looking for ways to make new sixth graders feel at home, Amilicia said. On visiting days for new students, she would bring all of the students into her office to have lunch and hold a Q&A with them, she said.

“Coming into the middle school was new and scary for a lot of us, and while some classes began fast paced, as a math teacher, Miller was patient and considerate of every student’s needs. She recognized that we were all coming from different places and took the time to ease us into our new space,” Liliana Greyf (8), one of Miller’s former advisees, said.

During her time at the school, Miller organized the annual sixth grade trip to Williamsburg as well as a sixth grade carnival for children from the Mercy Center, a home for underprivileged women and children.

Hanna Hornfeld (8), another one of Miller’s former students, believes Miller will be remembered for her unmatched school spirit and her pride for her students. In fact, Miller is hugely responsible for creating Middle Mania the way it is today, Ingram said.

“When we were in sixth grade, it was our first time being part of Middle Mania and seeing Mrs. Miller’s enthusiasm was really what got us excited about it,” Kelly Troop (9) said.

Miller was on the red team and it was a tradition that she would bring out her iconic red hat for spirit each and every year, Amilicia said.

Aside from her responsibilities at the School, Miller was known for her quirky interests and hobbies.

“Mrs. Miller loved the Pink Panther and played the theme song at every grade meeting; it became our favorite weekly ritual,” Whitney Dawson (10) said.

Miller was also a golfer and a lover of horses and of beaches, Ingram said. Anyone who had her knew she was a huge Mets fan, Greyf said.

“Mrs. Miller was the sixth grade team’s fearless leader and will be dearly missed,” Service Learning and Student Activities Coordinator Caitlin Hickerson said. Miller will continue to be remembered, she said.

According to psychologist Dr. Liz Westphal, art history teacher Avram Schlesinger is creating a page in this year’s yearbook in memory of Miller and her contributions to the school.

At the annual trustees dinner where Harmon was honored for 30 years at the school, Harmon asked Kelly to take the time to pay tribute to Miller instead. “She is the reason I’m here, and I never want to forget that,” Harmon said.

“If the sixth grade were a ship, I would consider Camille to be the captain, propeller, and anchor. She is the leader – one that leads by example, keeps things moving, and holds things down especially when needed in rough waters. That’s who she was,” Harmon said.

Miller is remembered fondly by the school community but also by her friends and family, especially her husband Gary and their daughter Lauren.