A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Elaina Miller

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Elaina Miller

Elaina Miller is the principal at Cooks Corners Elementary School, which is located in Valparaiso. She herself attended school in the area at Morgan Township Middle/High School, starting in kindergarten and going all the way up to her senior year. Her undergraduate studies were done at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and her graduate studies at Indiana State University. She earned her Bachelor's degree in elementary education and her Master's degree in educational leadership. 

After earning her bachelor’s, Miller returned to the Region from the South and began working as the director of child care at the YMCA in Valpo. She was in that role for several years until she realized she wanted to do something a little different. What followed was a quick stint selling insurance even though she didn’t necessarily love the industry. Her truest passion has always been education, so she went on to renew her teaching license and was then hired at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. While she taught kindergarten, she earned her master’s in administration. The rest is history, and she’s now going on nine years as principal. 

Simply being a professional educator is what allowed Miller to first hear about an opening at Cooks Corners. She chose educational leadership as the vocational route upon which she desired to travel, and as soon as the proper time presented itself, she seized the position she’s been in since June of 2015 promptly. The thing that’s remained a constant throughout her career pursuits is her desire to make a difference. 

“I want to make a big impact on education in whatever capacity I can. I was blessed to get the job I now have. The part that brings me the most joy in this position is all of the school community’s growth I get to witness firsthand. I’m a visionary, so I love to help people create and then achieve their dreams,” she said. 

Being principal means being a leader, so Miller’s day-to-day completely concerns leading those around her by example. Every day, she chooses to positively influence others, whether they be her fellow staff members or students in the classroom. She considers her co-workers to be family, which permits a sense of unity to make its way into her heart. 

“If something undesirable or unmanageable happens to one of us, we're all going to swoop in and be supportive and uplift each other so we can continue on the path to growing to be the best that we can be in all areas of life. It’s never just about academics alone. Creating relationships is so essential to fostering a school environment where students and staff want to come everyday,” she said. 

Miller has a family outside of work, too, as she’s a married woman with three children. She and her husband own a cottage on Bass Lake. Spending time with her kids and friends is an especially important pastime of hers. he takes pride in finding joy in the simple things in life.

“Finding joy everywhere, whether I’m at home or at school, matters a lot to me. I don’t see work as work; that’s what it is, yes, but for me it’s more a chance to serve the community. As for home life, doing the mom stuff is my prime pleasure, so I’m all for the football games and time on the lake,” she said. 

One of Miller's hobbies is exercising, which often includes long walks with her family/school therapy dog, Marley. She lives in a den of foodies, so taking trips out to eat often is something the family does for fun together. However, they’re not out and about every night, as her husband’s a grill-master who operates a smoker with swagger. That’s merely one of the reasons she and the rest of the Millers are regular hosts of the cookout besides her welcoming and inviting spirit. 

Since she’s part owner of Peddlers Pizza Pub in downtown Valpo, Miller’s familiar with the particular behaviors of the city’s citizens. Both the kindness and empathy that’s shared throughout the community is nothing novel to her, and living with that energy about her has since revealed to her why she’s so thankful to be where she is. 

“So many times have I seen the community just step up to help others in need, and just rally and support one another. You walk downtown, and you get a real happy vibe. I love that. I love raising our family here and just being a part of this community. It's great to be here,” she said.