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A LEGACY TO LEAVE BEHIND
For 19 years, students have seen him pass winks and encouraging nods on their trips to class. For 19 years, they’ve seen him relentlessly represent his favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and roam the school with his walkie-talkie. For 19 years, Assistant Principal George Miller has been bridging the gap between administration and the student body.
Mr. Miller will be retiring September 2020, as required by the state, after two decades of working at Dreyfoos; however, his legacy will be remembered through the way he bonds with students and through his many quirks. One in particular is how he comes to school with a new tie every morning, donning patterns ranging from florals to drum sets.
“The ties really broke the ice [between] me and the student population because they knew me for my ties,” Mr. Miller said. “[At] Parent Open House, I would wear a tie that was kind of different and parents would come up and say, ‘Hey, so you’re the cool assistant principal.’ And I didn’t try to be, but the kids remembered the tie[s], which means they remembered me, which means they knew they could come talk to me if they had a problem.”
His signature quirk has led to a game of sorts between him and the student body. According to the game’s rules, the first person to compliment Mr. Miller’s tie on any given day receives it at the end of the day as a gift. He will often pull students aside in the halls or out of class for a few minutes to bestow them the honor of receiving one of his ties.
“I think the kids appreciate it when I give them one of my ties, especially if they like it,” Mr. Miller said. “A couple of parents have commented that their daughters or sons really appreciate the tie, [that] it was a nice gesture, and they have it hanging in their room. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Although the tie game has been something Mr. Miller has become known by, it hasn’t always been around. The tradition began about three years ago, when one student he was close with happened to be graduating, and she commented that she liked his tie. Mr. Miller decided to give it to her “as a graduation present.”
“At the time, I had 500 ties,” Mr. Miller said. “What am I gonna do with them? I have more [now] from gifts, and if I saw one that I liked, then [I] bought [it], but most of them were gifts.”
Mr. Miller isn’t hard to find, being that he is typically in one of two places: his office or the cafeteria. However, some students have gotten so interested in the “game” that Mr. Miller has had them come up to him in the parking lot, the halls, and anywhere he might be in hopes of getting his tie before anyone else.
“I’ve had a couple kids waiting for me when I park my car in the morning to see the tie I have and if they like it,” Mr. Miller said. “I’ve had kids yell at me because they saw me coming down [to the cafeteria] for breakfast [and say] ‘I really like your tie.’ [But I’d say,] ‘Too late, somebody already got me at my office.’ I think it’s cute.”
It can be easy for students to feel distant from administrators, but Mr. Miller tries to break that barrier each day, from asking a simple “How are you?” to giving away treats, like ice cream and chocolates. According to Mr. Miller, the tie game served as a good “door-opener” between him and students.
“Everyone knows Mr. Miller,” theatre sophomore Daniel Reiter said. “[He] is the type of person I aspire to be like. He’s someone [whom] all students feel comfortable talking to and someone that is willing to do anything for the students.”
Before Reiter attended Dreyfoos, he used to hear “a different story about [Mr. Miller] every day” from his sister. “My sister would always talk about him, and I knew I wanted to meet him and become friendly with him,” Reiter said. “And, I did.”
Before coming to Dreyfoos, Mr. Miller worked at Suncoast Community High School, Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, and Santaluces Community High School, among others. Upon coming to Dreyfoos, Mr. Miller started as an assistant principal and kept the position throughout his career here, creating the master schedule, facilitating testing, and organizing field trips and SRAs.
Mr. Miller’s favorite part about working at Dreyfoos has been the student body. “The kids are more appreciative,” Mr. Miller said. “I think that their ‘artisticness’ makes them special, kinder, gentler—they’re not hardcore. These kids have a sweet edge to them.”
Likewise, the student body has found many things to love about Mr. Miller. Many students have formed special relationships with him, whether they’ve known him for their whole high school careers or only for a single year.
“Dreyfoos won’t be the same without him,” dance junior Kaylee Frost said. “Mr. Miller will be the man I will get to brag to the future students that I met. He brought smiles wherever he was and you were lucky to have ever witness[ed] him strut around in his Eagles suit.”
Although a number of students, like Frost, “sadly” have yet to receive a tie from Mr. Miller, his amiable nature will still be something students can carry with them beyond high school. His positive personality stands out to students and makes him a role model for many, including Frost, who described Mr. Miller as “hilarious, helpful, and just a joy to be around.”
Reiter, although only recently becoming close with Mr. Miller, agrees with Frost that his legacy will be “long-lived after he [retires] because all the stories about him will get passed on each year.”
“It makes me really sad that Mr. Miller is retiring because I haven’t had much time with him, but I’ve been able to get to know him really well last year and this year,” Reiter said. “While I’m sad, … he’s done so much for Dreyfoos and for me and I wish him luck on his next chapter of life.”