Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
July 28, 2017 // Schools

Joe Miller to lead at St. Adalbert

Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

Joe Miller

Although not Latino by birth, Joseph Miller’s heart has always been called to be with the Latino community. Thus, his preparation and background for his new position as principal of St. Adalbert School came not only from his academic studies and degrees, but also from being present and coming to know the many Latino families he now will serve.

“Our goal is to help students grow in self-confidence. Every student here is gifted in unique ways. We will be successful if we help each student to realize they are gifted, to grow those gifts and to share them for the benefit of all. There is a wonderfully talented and dedicated faculty in place at St. Adalbert, who believe in these kids and will continue to build them up,” Miller said of his new leadership position.

Born and raised in South Bend, his heart for service was fostered at an early age by his parents. Miller’s father cared for the church as a deacon while his mother served in numerous capacities, from sewing altar cloths to teaching at Catholic schools.

After earning a degree in communication from IUSB Miller spent a year in volunteer service with the Midtown Center in Chicago, helping underprivileged children learn. His heart for education and Latino culture blossomed when he next joined the ACE program with the University of Notre Dame serving in Brownsville, Texas, and earning an MAT degree in education. This lead him to learn Spanish and theology for an M.Div. from the University of Notre Dame as a seminarian with the Congregation of Holy Cross, where he studied in Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico and Chile. His experience in Peru, in the neighborhood of Canto Grande, was most formative and spoke to his heart.

Miller there heard about the preferential option for the poor, lived in a concrete way, and felt the Holy Spirit calling him. This way of making God known, loved and served, the motto of the Congregation of Holy Cross, spoke to his heart. Upon returning to the United States he worked at Saint Joseph High School as a language teacher and football coach, and developed a new program called Latino Outreach Initiative.

While teaching, he came to know many of the St. Adalbert families, some who were first-generation graduates. At the same time, then-Bishop John M. D’Arcy began to emphasize the importance of reaching out to welcome and serve the rapidly growing Latino population within the diocese. Miller responded to this call by building relationships with current and future St. Joe students in the local Latino community – particularly from St. Adalbert. Many of those relationships continue to this day and are at the heart of his approach to school leadership.

After marriage and beginning a family, Miller discerned a call to move from teaching to administration. For the past three years, he has served a diverse population of students as principal of Holy Family School, where he was the first layperson and first male principal.

For the upcoming school year at St. Adalbert, where he will be the first Spanish-speaking principal of the 99-percent Latino student population, Miller reflected: “I hope that our school can be a place where all students find confidence and hope that they are good, known and loved.”

“Joe has demonstrated a great devotion to the Latino community here at St. Adalbert/St. Casimir over the years. First as a graduate student in theology at the University of Notre Dame, coming over to our parochial school and translating for parent-teacher conferences, and then as a Spanish teacher at Saint Joseph High School, his alma mater, recruiting and advocating for our Spanish-speaking families and ensuring their enrollment by driving a bus from St. Adalbert’s to Saint Joseph High School each morning,” said Father Paul Ybarra, CSC, pastor of St. Adalbert and St. Casimir Parish. “Joe is an outstanding educator and minister in our church; we are fortunate to have him.”

Miller shared: “I am eager to continue to as a Catholic school principal because the mission of the Catholic school is so important and consistent with my own mission in life … To share and attempt to live the good news.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.