January 9, 2018 / Advisers of Note

Yearbook Advisers of Note: Meet Allison Miller

Written by Jim Jordan

As I’ve traveled around the country teaching yearbook at workshops and summer camps, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many great yearbook advisers. Many are brand new and both scared and excited to take on the amazing task of producing a book that covers an entire year in just nine months. Others have been doing great work with great kids for years with little fanfare or recognition.

In this blog, I plan to periodically recognize these folks with the new feature Advisers of Note. Our first Adviser of Note is Allison Miller of Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas.

Profile:

Allison Miller
Marcus High High School
Number of Students in Your School: 3,300
Number of Years Advising: 3
Number of Pages in Book: 440
Number of Books sold in 2017: 1,700
College Attended: University of North Texas, undergrad and postgrad
High School Attended:  Trinity High School, Euless, Texas

Q&A:

Did you do journalism in high school? If so, what publication and what was your role?
I actually didn’t. I was involved in photography. I didn’t switch to journalism until college.

What have you liked most about advising a yearbook?
I like that I get to explore my creativity and help my staffers explore theirs every day. I get to help them find their talents and watch as they flourish. I’m able to see their excitement grow as they realize their potential.

What has been the most difficult part of advising for you?
The most difficult thing for me as an adviser is learning to let go. I am here to advise, not decide. I am very particular about certain things and, I admit, I like to be in control. I have had to really learn to stand back and let the students make decisions. I can guide them and give them advice, but it is their publication.

What advice would you give to a first-year adviser?
You’re going to be learning a lot of things in a short amount of time. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s OK! Just take notes. Next year, those notes are going to be your answers. You learn from your mistakes. To quote my favorite musical, “For up from the ashes grow the roses of success.” And I honestly believe my success has come from my failures.

What made you want to come back for year two?
Year one was really tough. It was the year of Murphy’s Law for me. I think that’s why I came back. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it—that I could fix the problems I had and find a better way to do things. I wanted to push myself and the kids to make a better, stronger book.

What keeps you coming back each year?
I absolutely love the relationships I have with my staffers. They are my children. Aside from buying them meals and supplying them with other random things that they need, I get to help them grow. The relationship between an adviser and their staffers is unlike any other. You travel together, you laugh together and you definitely cry together. I cherish the relationships that I have gained with each staffer that has come through my room.

What goals have you set?
I set new goals every year. Sometimes, it’s to simply remember the things I manage to forget every year. Sometimes, it’s organizational. Sometimes, it’s a staff goal–to grow the relationships they have among each other and to improve communication. I can tell you, I never have just one goal that I’m trying to reach. I think that’s what keeps me trucking along during those really hard moments.

Tell a story that is indicative of your life as an adviser.
We were at a convention. We had 26 staffers with us. We arrived early and had only our [adviser] hotel rooms available at the time, so we had to store all the staffers’ things in our rooms. We had multiple broadcast students who had contests that afternoon. They kept calling because they needed to get in the room to change their clothes or do their makeup or whatever else they needed to prepare for filming. I had just lent my shoes to one girl who needed some that matched her dress and I was standing in the bathroom doing her hair as my phone was ringing. There was a “crisis” back in the classroom. I stood there curling her hair as she stood in my shoes, and I talked my staffer through the crisis on the other end of the phone. I actually remember thinking to myself “this is what my life has become.” I smiled. My life is constant chaos with deadlines and crises and problems to solve, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I now thrive in chaos.

Tell a story about a moment in your adviser career that you will never forget.
I don’t think I can narrow down a singular moment. My career as adviser has been short thus far, but I have so many wonderful memories. To boil it down to one answer, I think I would say my fondest moments have been the ones of genuine affection from my kids. The times that I show up and there is candy on my desk with a thank you note or a text that says “what do you want from Starbucks?” as I’m driving to work. Any moment that the support and the love is reciprocated is a moment I will cherish.

Contact me at jim.jordan@walsworthyearbooks.com with names of any advisers who need to be recognized for their outstanding work. 

Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.