Mrs. Rosalea Poling Miller
GHS 1966 Class Sponsor
A Letter to Mrs. Miller
by Patricia Orendorff Smith
Dear Mrs. Miller,
How do I begin to tell you what a difference you made in our lives? You are
the one unforgettable teacher to many Glenville, West Virginia students. At
Glenville High School, you taught us to stretch beyond our closed-in hills,
to think beyond our small minds, to appreciate the arts and music, to wrap
ourselves in books....
I tried to tell my daughter, Lisa, what it was like growing up in
Glenville. No matter how often she heard my story, she could not grasp what
I meant. To her, Glenville looked like a small town punctuated with
Glenville State College sitting at the pinnacle. I tried to get her to see
how I grew up with freedom to be a child. People looked out for us. If we
got into trouble, Mom and Dad knew about it before we got home! Glenville
was a tight community full of love and compassion.
Lisa and I traveled back to your Memorial Service. It was there where Lisa
met your devoted husband Espy Miller. He was a man of distinction, well
dressed, a little stooped with age. Many of my classmates attended, Carol,
Raymond, Jorene, Karen, Mary Ann and Jeannie. Did you see us, the many you
influenced? Did you hear Carol Ford read letters penned by your former
students? Did you see the glow spread over your husband's face? He looked so
sad but pleased. Remember last year at the 40th class reunion Lyndall sang a
song to you, "Lord let me be someone special in the eyes of the people who
love me, and the only thing I'll ever ask of life, is to die knowing my
loved ones were proud of me?" That is the way it is; we are proud of you!
Carol Ford wrote:
"In the fall of 1954 Mrs. Rosalea Miller took some 30 awkward, loud,
pimply, and unappreciative seventh graders into her homeroom in the old high
school building on the second floor. I wonder what she thought! A challenge?
Am I up to THIS? We never knew. Mrs. Miller went to work on the rough edges
right away. She gave us heavy doses of love, time, guidance, and concern,
sprinkled with her enthusiasm for education, music, art, and life. She
taught us to be proud of our ‘roots.’ She even involved Mr. Miller in her
learning schemes! During one sock hop, Mrs. Miller engaged Mr. Miller to
dance with each one of the 7th grade girls, so that we could practice the
dance steps that we had learned in physical education.
Early in the 7th grade, Mrs. Miller told us that we must choose our class
flower, color, motto, etc. Not realizing the ramifications of our choices,
we chose the white orchid as our flower. I am sure that none of us had ever
had a white orchid and probably had never even seen one, but we quickly
learned...that for special occasions Mrs. Miller, our homeroom teacher, was
to wear a white orchid and that...we had to pay for it!”
I picked up a poem Mary Ann Radabaugh had written. Part of it read:
A favorite name for a favorite Mom
An English teacher with a lot of charm
Gently spoken with a bit of wit
“Ma Miller” inspired students to never quit.
No task was too large, but what she could make it seem easy
And lots of fun for those “Freddies and Lizzies”
When Shakespeare she taught, she might dress as a witch
And stir that witches’ brew so they’d never forget Lit.”….
This was “Ma Miller”—ALWAYS CONCERNED
About the students she taught and how much they learned
SHE TAUGHT FROM THE BOOK AND SHE TAUGHT ABOUT LIFE
THAT IS WHY “MA MILLER” WAS SUCH A GOOD GUIDE!
You taught Business, English and French in the Randolph County and Gilmer
County schools. At Glenville High School, you organized the first Future
Teachers of America Chapter in Gilmer County Schools. I was one of your
students in typing class. One day you were timing our progress. My fingers
were flying across the keys when you said, “Stop!” When you stood over my
desk, you asked, “Is that correct?” You didn’t preach; you just let me
agonize overnight. The next morning I told you, “Perhaps it wasn’t.” You
allowed me to find my truth.
I was never part of the 24 seniors graduating from our class. I had moved on
to Indiana, Pennsylvania in eleventh grade when my father became Chairman of
the Music Department at Indiana State Teachers College. You always included
me in the class and reunions. Throughout the years you welcomed me into your
home on my visits to Glenville. You shared your Thanksgiving with Jeannie
and me—the first time I had tomato aspic and oyster and chestnut stuffing.
My face turned green. I had never eaten such things. You were happy to hear
of my successes and exposure to the world. I wonder what you would think of
my writing career? You taught me stick-to-it, to do my best, to conquer, to
excel! You were always thrilled with my accomplishments!
At your Memorial Service, Raymond told me it was because of you and your
encouragement that he became a principal. “Can you imagine me a principal?”
he asked. Think of all the souls you influenced?
Remember how you would read stories especially “Lorna Doone” to us if we had
our homework done? Think of how many people you encouraged to
I learned through your letters to your nieces and nephews that you were a
complete tomboy growing up--climbing trees and standing on your head. You
loved to play in the creek. I find it hard to believe since I only knew you
when you dressed so spiffy--your clothes so neat and pressed, your
hair coifed to perfection.
After cookies and punch and conversation with long lost friends, Lisa and I
left the church. “You don’t have to say anything,” Lisa said. “It was all
there—the people—what Glenville is all about—through the life of Mrs.
Miller. I see what you have been trying to tell me. Don’t say a word!”
By January 28, 2002 a Library Memorial Fund in your honor totaling $1090.00
had been given to the Gilmer County High School Library to buy books. Carol
said our class gave $800.00 toward the book fund and added “Mrs. Miller
would be thrilled that even in her death, she was giving the gift of
learning to more Gilmer County students.”
A floral tribute at the Memorial Service included the usual white orchid.
Carol carried the white orchid to Meadow Lanes Cemetery after your service.
She placed it on your grave—a remembrance of all you touched.
Patricia Orendorff Smith
Indiana, PA 15701