Miller wants to turn insight she’s gained into improvements with school board reelection


Trustee Eileen Miller (far left) with her family.

Eileen Miller is seeking reelection to the board of education to further the district’s work with the equity audit and continue to work on the reopening of schools.

“I encourage everyone to look past the actual equity audit because I believe the issues raised with NYU Metro only take attention away from valuable feedback,” said Miller.

Miller agrees with the recommendations to diversify hiring practices, which the district has already begun, and to streamline data collection to identify disparities more easily. “I also hope we can work towards creating ‘affinity spaces’ to allow for brave conversations among marginalized groups and their supporters,” Miller said.

One of the recommendations Miller disagreed with in the audit was that “Pelham leadership must methodically work to repair community harms.” Miller said she believes there are “other entities better positioned to assess and address harms across our community,” and that it is not the job of the Pelham Schools, as the district’s focus needs to be on the community inside the schools.

“No student can learn academically or socially, or achieve excellence in anything in an environment that feels unsafe or diminishes them because of their race, economic situation, gender identity, home life or any other factor. Given our scarce resources, our buildings must be our primary priority.”

Another point brought up numerous times in the equity audit is the implementation of the Princeton Plan, which would allow students across from all elementary schools to meet before reaching middle school.

“While I disagree with their suggestion of the Princeton Plan, I think more can be done to create meaningful relationships among students at all the schools earlier than sixth grade. I would advocate to use our experience with flexible Wednesdays to create groups made up of students across elementary schools, bus them around to be together and create meaningful projects for them to accomplish together, all year long,” Miller said.

Miller stated she believes the equity audit “is one piece of a puzzle and it’s important that we consider all pieces together.” After reading and listening to students’ personal experiences in classrooms, along with experiences shared outside the schools, like the Art Center Laundry exhibit, “these lived experiences of students tell me that we need to actively pursue Cultural Competence.”

“We are soon going to be presented with recommendations from the Cultural Competence Committee and will have to determine which are the most effective ways to guide our school community to progress.” 

According to Miller, her involvement with the strategic plan and participation on the cultural competence committee “best positions me to ensure that we keep students’ voices and their lived experiences at the center of this work.”

“I have very much enjoyed my first term as a board of education trustee and feel like I’ve started some good work that I’d like to continue,” Miller said. “I have so much insight into what students and staff have told us they need, and I would like to continue to see that insight turn into actionable improvements.”

Miller believed that fall reopening of schools will be a major challenge for the board. “My experience this past 14 months positions me as among the two best qualified candidates to see this through. The fact is, there is no substitute for having already faced this situation,” Miller said. “We have put together an immensely qualified group in the Reopening Task Force and with their guidance, plus our resources in other Districts, and guidance from New York State, the board is extremely well positioned right now to take this on.”

Miller, a mother of two, said that while having her children home from school due to Covid-19 has not been bad, her work on the board has “never been about my own children or our own family situation – it is always about the entire community. The best form of education across the board is to be in school, full time, in a safe way.” 

“I know from my work with Pelham Together that meaningful connection with peers or caring adults can make a world of difference to a young person and I want to work to create those connections in brave spaces, as well as everyday life.”

“Through my work with Pelham Together, and in speaking to many parents, I know there is a great deal of support needed in the area of mental health,” Miller said. “The issues students are facing may only begin to surface now as we return to full and greater classroom time, or even over the longer term as people process how the last year has affected them and their families.”

She also mentioned the possibility of learning loss, especially in younger grades, “where the work is so foundational.”

The two seats on the board are currently held by Miller and Jess Young, who is also seeking reelection. The other three candidates are Michael Owen-MichaaneIan Rowe and Janice Powers. Terms of office are three years. The vote for trustees and the district budget is May 18.

Editor’s note: The Pelham Examiner is publishing individual profiles of the candidates for the school board. Below are the other stories published to date.