Off The Cuff: Ben Miller
A recent nominee for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Adult Educator of the Year Award, CCRI’s Benjamin Miller is an outstanding leader and advocate for adults looking to reimagine the education experience.
Miller, a native of Dyersburg, TN, who has lived in Rhode Island for nine years, works primarily at CCRI’s Providence Campus as an Adult Education Facilitator, where he teaches and coordinate for the college’s Bridge Program to help adults with literacy and math to prepare for their GED exam and the college's RI-BEST classes, which allow students to take college-level courses and get additional academic support while earning college credit.
With a bachelor’s degree from Lambuth University and his TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, Miller boasts more than a decade of experience working with everyone from kindergartners to adults as an ESL instructor, workforce co-teacher/coordinator for Integrated Education & Training (IET) programs, and a GED/High School Equivalency facilitator.
Miller’s recent nomination as the RIDE Adult Educator of the Year recognizes his excellence in the field and his years of dedication to closing education gaps for students of all ages, including an exciting four-year work experience in South Korea teaching ESL to students from kindergarten through eighth grade. In today’s “Off The Cuff,” we dive deeper into Miller’s most fascinating educational experiences and learn about his professional goals working at CCRI and beyond.
What was your feeling on being nominated for the RIDE Adult Educator of the Year?
“It’s always nice to feel validated for the work you do. For me, it’s about working with adults who’ve had some sort of barriers in their educational journey, immigrants who’ve had to redo things they’ve previously worked on, or local adults who couldn’t continue because of family issues or because they just generally struggled with learning. I enjoy being with them and helping them find ways to succeed. For most of our students, their goal is to get their GED to either continue onto college or for career advancement.”
How did you get your start in education?
“I began in education in 2010. I actually started working as an ESL instructor in South Korea. I did that for four years – two years teaching kindergarten through eighth grade and then two years working with an English program at a university there. Then I transitioned back to the United States in 2014 and worked briefly at Roger Williams University with their ESL program doing transitions for a lot of foreign students and I also worked part time with another non-profit adult agency, Progresso Latino, in Central Falls. I was there for about five years and came to CCRI in 2020.
What led you to South Korea and how did you enjoy the experience?
“I kind of randomly was looking to get into education, but wanted to travel, so I came across this and had some random associations who said, ‘I did that back in the day!’ so I applied to the program and worked through their private education system. You’re always a little bit of an outsider. The United States is very multicultural, but over there it’s one culture. Thankfully, there’s a pretty robust expat community over there doing the same thing, so I think that’s a benefit. You can connect with people who are in the same boat and build your own community that way.”
What is your goal at CCRI working with adults?
“My overall goal is to help people have a new educational experience and to demystify education and break down some of the bad experiences they had. A lot of our students who failed out of our traditional K–12 system are coming in with a lot of trauma around that, so helping them realize their own potential land helping them understand that the knowledge they’re gaining is really about them owning it and not the other way around. They got used to that, ‘The teacher said this, so I’ve got to do it this way.’ It’s about them owning that potential for themselves and break old habits. Math is a big one that people struggle with the most because they instantly come in with the idea of, ‘I need to turn off my brain as soon as I hear math,’ or, ‘I really hate math, so I’m not going to do that.’ It’s about helping them understand, breaking it down, and making it a hands-on experience and validating what they do know. I think that’s an important part of the process.”