Written by Audra Lange | Photo submitted
Brad Miller says his favorite artists are his students.
“Some will say that’s cheesy, and I’m okay with that. Every day that I get to see something that a student creates out of their own imagination gives me so much love for the world. It is hard to find many artists today that are excited to try things even if they may fail, but my students always are willing to share their own ideas even if they are unsure of what the outcome may be,” he said.
His passion for his profession is part of the reason Miller — who earned his BSE in art education in 2017 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater — is the recipient of a statewide teaching honor.
The Wisconsin Art Education Association has named Miller the Outstanding Beginning Art Teacher for 2020. The association’s mission is to develop a professional community with a passion for inspiring creativity, innovation, advocacy and excellence in art education. Miller, who teaches at Mount Horeb Middle School, was recognized for his exemplary skills in the classroom.
Miller wanted to pursue teaching art since his senior year at Verona Area High School.
“I vividly remember talking with my high school ceramics teacher during class one day and he asked me what I was going to do after high school. I said there was a good chance I would be a teacher like him. We talked a lot about that over the rest of my senior year, about other options, or other careers, but it always came back to teaching. He is someone that I still look up to today, and I luckily have had many chances to work with him personally making art. He gave me many chances to expand my knowledge, and I hope to do the same to my students one day.”
His experience at UW-Whitewater was anything but ordinary.
“Coming into UW-Whitewater, knowing that I wanted to teach, I knew that I needed to learn not only what my professors were teaching, but how they were teaching. From English, to astronomy, to art, I made sure to look at how they were sharing the information just as much as what information they shared. I have been able to choose for myself, and my students, what methods are going to work in that time to teach what needs to be taught.”
Apart from his classes, Miller says there’s one thing that stands out from his experience at UW-Whitewater: the people.
“I have always been grateful for the people I met along the way at UW-Whitewater. They all taught me that there are people from all over the country who have different backgrounds that we may know nothing about, and sometimes all we need to do is listen to them. If I were to talk to someone who is thinking about coming to UW-Whitewater for art education or any other field I would have to say: There are many opportunities to pursue in today’s world, yet there are not many that give you a feeling of community with every group you choose to be a part of. UW-Whitewater served that need for community from the professors to my social group; they pushed me and kept me on track throughout my education.”
A professional artist himself, Miller has a studio in Stoughton where he creates what he deems as “functional art” (bowls, vases, etc.) with clay.
“I think that saying you are an artist is a really important part of the art teaching world. If I were to tell my students that I was just their teacher, and not an artist myself, I think it wouldn't show them what opportunities are out there for artists.”