Dr. Jeff and Christina Miller, new faculty members in the Division of Communication and the Division of Teacher Education, have years of experience in directing theatre productions together and have spent many years educating and mentoring both their own children and students from across three different Christian colleges.
Dr. Miller has taught for many years at Christian institutions, including Northland Baptist Bible College and Maranatha Baptist University. “I always [taught] some public speaking classes because you’ve got to have that staple,” he said. “Then at Maranatha I recently created a [communication] theories course.”
Dr. Miller said he had a double major in English and theatre in college. He said his English major helped him in his career. “[My English major] helped me to get my first job in education, and it got me close to literature, which I love,” Dr. Miller said. “That was a natural tie-in to theatre. And honestly, a good teacher, who’s a good reader, has some really interesting elements to share with their class because you’ve experienced a little bit of the world outside of your contemporary world.”
Dr. Miller said he proposed to his wife in Times Square. “The week we went to Broadway I had strep throat and mono,” he said. “We bought the tickets. It was all set to go, and I had the ring. I was so nervous that day because I hadn’t set up any place to get engaged and she thought I was going to break up with her. And that’s how the day ended, with us getting engaged.”
Christina Miller said she originally became interested in special education because of one of their children. “One of my children was speech delayed,” she said. “So we had to get him tested when he was younger and I knew nothing about special ed at that time. That kind of got me into the special ed world to get him help and to be able to get his speech up to where it needed to be.”
“I became really passionate about helping alternate learners. I thought, ‘You know what? I want to study this,’” she said. Miller said she started a degree in special education and worked in the Academic Success Center at Maranatha Baptist University. Miller enjoyed helping students with different learning styles succeed in her position at the college.
Miller said there is a strong connection between psychology and special education, which are both fields she teaches.
“A lot of what we understand about disability originates in the brain,” she said. “A lot of our typical disabilities are neurologically based, and so learning disabilities like dyslexia, which is probably the most common learning disability, we now know is a neurological difference.”
Miller said she likes teaching students to be compassionate toward those who are different from them and struggle in different ways than they do. She especially enjoys teaching her subjects from a biblical worldview because she can teach her students not only how to have compassion, but also to point others to truth.
Miller said she and her husband met and connected after college over their shared interest of speech and theatre. “All 23 years of our marriage we have directed together and done a lot of productions,” Miller said. “In the past 11 years, he and I have done 27 productions together. It’s just been a lot of fun. It’s just kind of a fun piece of our family.”
“My life quote is, ‘broken crayons still color,’” she said. “I like to encourage people who come from brokenness. … Just because you don’t color sharp like everybody else, or like the people you think come from perfect families … doesn’t mean that you don’t color.”
Miller said that as a child dull and broken crayons always bothered her and that she always wanted a crayon sharpener. She connected this to some of her personal life experiences, specifically her experience in growing up in a broken home.
She said she has had the opportunity to minister to people that others who did not come from a broken home would have a harder time ministering to. She also said that there are some people who she could not minster to because of her story but that can be ministered to by people who did not come from a situation like hers.
“It reminds me that God is writing our story,” she said. “And part of that is accepting that broken crayons still color.”