Students taking career skills courses at Woodland High School receive hands-on experience working with young children; learn how to cook and manage restaurants; and learn skills in budgeting and economics.

Kimberly Miller teaches a number of career and life skills courses at Woodland High School including Early Childhood Development, Culinary Arts, and Family Consumer Science which include lessons in mortgage management, budgeting, and much more. Miller’s Early Childhood Development students pair up with preschoolers, learning how to guide and teach skills to young students. “I’ve been teaching Early Childhood Development for many years and I always love seeing the connection between the high school kids and the preschool kids,” said Miller.

In addition to working with preschoolers from the Woodland Preschool Cooperative, the high school students learn how to work with young children to improve fine motor skills, sequencing, and pre-reading schools. In addition, they learn coursework including sex education, the stages of pregnancy, and childhood development all the way up to age 8. Students also become certified in CPR and Bloodborne Pathogen Management. By the end of the semester, the high school students develop and design classroom curriculum which they use with their preschoolers. Students taking Early Childhood Development receive 15 college credits from the year-long class.

During one session before the holiday break, the high schoolers paired up with preschool students and started the class by talking about one another’s Thanksgiving holidays. Following their conversation, the high school students helped their preschool partners make reindeer hats out of construction paper, tongue depressors, cotton balls and googly eyes. Both the high school students and the preschoolers had a blast making their hats. “During the sessions, the high school students work with the preschoolers using different child management techniques such as making choices, natural consequences, timeout, and redirection,” said Miller.

Miller has taught in Woodland Public Schools since 1991, first discovering her own love for teaching while in her sophomore year of high school. “My family is filled with teachers so I was always exposed to the concepts of teaching students,” explained Miller. “I started teaching in Oregon, but moved back to Woodland because I wanted to be closer to where I grew up in Naselle.”

In addition to teaching courses, Miller manages the SkillsUSA Leadership Club, an organization designed to help students prepare for the workforce by learning leadership and job preparedness skills through community service such as free daycare and competitions including ones focusing on culinary arts and restaurant service. “We’re the state champions in restaurant service for two years in a row,” said Miller. “The competitions are incredibly competitive with students having to manage the front-of-the-house including seating patrons and taking orders all the way through to ensuring each patron receives the correct order and great service.” The highest-performing students at the competitions receive certifications entitling them to work at high-end restaurants.

Miller loves the quality of the students in Woodland’s schools. “We’re so fortunate because we have the nicest students here,” said Miller. “I really enjoy making connections with my students, even so much that when my students graduate, it’s almost like having to say goodbye to my own kids.”