Service oriented: Nicole Miller has spent a lifetime helping others
Nicole Miller stays busy – and not just because she has three kids and works for Big Sky School District.
She spent Monday night decorating the hallways of Lone Peak High School with other moms for Homecoming week, is a regular at the scorekeeping table for volleyball games and is on the list to help with football games.
“It’s fun to watch [volleyball games] that way. In some ways it’s easier to watch them that way, because you can’t chit chat with your neighbor and you have to be focused on the game,” she said. “There’s a nice camaraderie with the other moms and dads. It’s fun to have your weekly date [with the other parents].”
It’s fair to say that being mom to 17 year old Emery, 15 year old Bennett and 11 year old Keaton helped her find many of her volunteer roles in her adult life.
“I’ve always volunteered at my kids’ schools. I would run the book show, I would volunteer in the classrooms, parties, whatever the teachers needed,” she said. Now working in the school, her availability for volunteer work is limited to evenings. She and her husband Corky have volunteered often with concessions – the kids have helped with that over the years as well.
Looking back on the history of her life, her path has always been service-oriented – from riding her bike every summer when she was a kid in St. Louis to raise money for diabetes research to spending her summers growing-up being a volunteer camp counselor at a camp for kids with disabilities.
“I guess volunteering has always been a part of my life,” she said.
She earned her master’s degree in social work and spends her days working with kids who have struggled with coursework in a position called Response to Intervention (RTI). She and Julie Hodge function as permanent tutors – “helping kids who are struggling with a piece of information for whatever reason.” The two work in six-week increments with students to help and assess them.
“It makes our school extremely progressive. It’s great for any kid, but it actually helps kids with dyslexia stay in the classroom,” she said. In classrooms across the nation, children who struggle with reading are often removed from the classroom. What they do can “really help keep kids from falling through the cracks.”
She did cut her hours this year so she could get her teaching certificate and also so she could chase Emery around with volleyball a bit more. Still, she is often at the school on her technical days off.
Making a difference and helping others has always been an emphasis in her work and personal life. Her husband sometimes worries that she stays too busy.
“I guess (I have always tended toward raising my hand too often. I feel like I am a pretty reliable fallback: ‘If you can’t find anybody else to do it, I’ll do it.’ I say that a lot. A lot of times they find somebody, so that’s good. It keeps me from being overcommitted. If somebody gets stuck, I’m there to help them out,” she said.
I like helping people. I’m a helper, I guess,” she said with a chuckle.
That service mentality has been passed-down to the Miller children. Emery is a member of the Interact Club and went on the service trip to Guatemala. Bennett did a service trip with his cousin to Hawaii. They helped restore local waters by clearing-out areas to create a more natural habitat for local fish hatcheries. Keaton participated in Boy Scouts.
After a long day of working and volunteering, Nicole sat down in the front room of her home to be interviewed for this story. Keaton created a “big beautiful fire” in the fireplace and invited her to relax.