Most believe that the children of this country are our future. Some are out there doing what they can to ensure that that future will be filled with contributing citizens. When kids get off track and lose their way in Houston’s Alief Independent School District some are enrolled into Crossroads Alternative Technology School. One of the specially trained certified, and high quality teachers working with this group is Michael Miller, who is a great example of looks being deceiving. Most see the dreadlocks, tattoos, and pretty smile. Some hardly ever get to know the man inside – the teacher, athlete, aspiring model, and volunteer coach for a community basketball team.
A graduate of Alief Hastings High School, Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance and a master’s in education administration from Prairie View A&M University. Mike’s style is relatable to his students. He is the “cool” teacher whose Jordan’s and tattoos help to permeate the wall some students build around themselves when it comes to authority figures. He reaches them with his style and teaches them with earnest the keys to their future successes. Quite simply, he stresses to students how his education has helped him to, “pay bills, help people, and have a little fun.”
When he noticed the lack of options for kids in the Alief area to have fun and fill their time with productive activities. Mike was inspired by Dr. Ron Clark’s to do something “big and unique.” In his off time he created a basketball team and the Alief Community Center using his own funds to order uniforms and get it off the ground. “It gave them something to look forward to. They are really involved.” Mike also gave an impromptu speech with an audience of the Mayor and Houston City Council addressing the budgetary concerns of the community center.
His mother and the mentors in his own life impressed upon him the importance of giving back. Miller is passing this on to the kids around him. He worked with other parents and teachers to help the Crossroads Basketball team to raise funds by taking orders, making ice cream cones, and flipping burgers at a local McDonald’s, taking in over $200 to benefit the team.
Miller’s passion for teaching was born while working summer programs. “The kids would light up.” He was able to “connect with them culturally.” Mike uses this connection to encourage them “to do well”. He’s pretty unconventional – in appearance and his outside-of-the-box teaching style. This sort of educator seems to be able to reach students that others cannot.
Mike is an accomplished athlete himself as a member of The Houston Gators who took first place in the Class A division in the Pre-Season Classic early this year and the Super Shootout in May. He also walked away with the MVP award. The team also ranked third in the overall TFFA State Rankings for this past summer. While studying at Prairie View Mike was a part of a track team that won two back to back SWAC Championships.
He also pledged the Delta Theta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. whose Sigma’s From the Heart campaign shines a light on their member’s accomplishments in business, community service, fitness, and education. Their first fundraiser “The Men of Sigma 2012-2013 Calendar” benefits children with autism and the education of fellow Sigma undergrads. Mike, whose line name is Yellow Man, is featured in the calendar donning a suit and a little less in another photo. Check out the calendar and make your donation at www.heartofsigma.org.
The New York photo shoot for the fraternity’s calendar wasn’t his last time posing for the camera. This summer he walked the catwalk at the Joe Jeans & Nissan Fashion Show and was recently spotted in VYBZ NY Night Club’s “Fashion Vybz”.
Miller’s Caribbean heritage is a source of pride and every year he shows it at Houston CaribFest. His favorite event is Jouvert (day break), the street party that kicks off Carnival. Mike can be found jumping and dancing until the morning light, painted for the festivities. His favorite Caribbean artists are Machel Montano and Yellowman.
His days are filled with mentoring and educating kids, helping to raise one of his own, and spending valuable time with his mother, working hard on the field, or partying hard when he can fit it in.