Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School

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Inspiring Students to See the World: Meet Mr. Michael Miller

“What inspired me to go into teaching foreign languages was that I grew up hearing different languages at home,” OLSH French and Italian teacher, Michael Miller, said. “My mother, grandmother, and other relatives all spoke an Italian dialect at home and it was always a part of my life.” 

Building upon his multilingual upbringing, Michael was inspired to pursue foreign language education by his French teacher at Carlynton High School.

“Much of how I model my professional career is based on my high school French teacher. She inspired me to have fun in the classroom, to make things interesting for students, and to foster an appreciation of other cultures,” Michael said. “She even introduced me to Nutella!”

In 1995, Michael graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Italian. He completed his Masters in Education for K-12 with foreign languages and secondary social studies in 1996. He began subbing at various schools in the area for two years after graduation. 

In 1998, OLSH was looking for a French teacher. Their newest Chemistry teacher, Meredith Riesek-Terracio, remembered a former colleague’s brother who taught French. She suggested Michael to OLSH principal at the time, Sr. Francine. 

“When I told my mom about the interview at OLSH, she told me that she just finished praying the rosary and she had a feeling the next place I got a call from is the place I should be,” Michael said.

Michael was hired part time that year. He became a full time foreign language teacher in 1999 and has been teaching at OLSH for the past 23 years.

“My colleagues have made me a better person because I know everyone here strives for excellence,” Michael said. 

Michael teaches French 1-4 and Italian 1. He engages his students with review games and prizes and incorporates creative projects, such as making Mardi Gras masks and floats every year. 

Michael has worn many hats at OLSH during his 23 years at the school. He has been a class moderator three times, yearbook moderator, and is usually a member of the faculty Academic Challenge Team. He is currently on the National Honor Society Faculty Council and is the Language Department Chair. He has also led the French Club, Bon Appetit Club, and Trivia Club activities. 

Michael loves trivia and is very competitive. He put these skills to the test as he auditioned to be on Jeopardy twice - once in high school and once in college. While he did not make it on the show, he did get to meet Alex Trebek! 

Aside from trivia, traveling is Michael’s favorite hobby. Michael has been to Italy five times, two of which were with OLSH.  In 2014, he led a trip to France and Italy and in 2018 he traveled to Italy for 10 days with a group of students, parents, and teachers.

He is grateful he gets to share his love of traveling with his students at OLSH. 

“I love going on trips with my students,” Michael said. “Even though I’ve been to these places before, it is really special to see these experiences through their eyes. It makes me appreciate it all over again.” 

Michael’s first trip abroad was when he was in high school and he credits it for putting the “travel bug” in him. In college, he did a summer study abroad program in northern Italy and was also able to stay with relatives in southern Italy.

“My travels abroad have really helped me grow as a person,” Michael said. “They gave me a greater appreciation for American life but also a deeper appreciation of other cultures and new experiences.”

Of all his travels to Italy, seeing the village in Calabria where his grandmother was born was one of the most special to Michael. 

Family is one of the most important parts of Michael’s life. He is the youngest in his family as he has one older brother and two older sisters. He grew up with a large but close-knit extended family that always gets together for holidays and other family events. 

Michael’s favorite part about his job at OLSH is his connections with his students both in and out of the classroom.

“I really enjoy going to students’ activities to get a better sense of who they are,” Michael said. “The students appreciate when teachers show up to events and take an interest in their lives.” 

Even after his students leave OLSH, Michael appreciates those who come back to visit and catch up. He is especially grateful for the reassurance that he has left a positive impact on their lives. 

“Something special about OLSH is the alumni that keep in touch,” Michael said. “If they didn’t love OLSH, they wouldn’t do those things. It is really nice to have some positive feedback from the students you teach. It makes me feel appreciated and that I have touched their lives in some way.”