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Hamilton Educator Changes lives one service opportunity at a time

College pennants line the walls of the computer lab that serves as a classroom for Zellene Miller,
career development coordinator for Hamilton City Schools. They are the result of many inquiries she sent as she networked with potential future educators of her students.

Her students.

It’s a distinction made clear by the fondness she feels for each and every one of them. Dozens of
photographs are layered on her bulletin board – her wall of fame. Many graduates have contacted
her in the past 27 years since she began her work in the district to let her know where they landed
and what they are up to.

“Her purpose is the kids,” said Hamilton High School Assistant Principal Gene Hutzelman. “She
truly is all about the kids, and however she can help the kids.”

Miller, who will be retiring at the end of this school year, works closely with Career Technical
Education students to sharpen their interview skills and soft skills, and is the link for companies
hiring students. She has been instrumental in starting and leading numerous service and career
related programs for the school, as well as for connecting student volunteers to just about every
event throughout the City of Hamilton. “I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “I help create partnerships.”

Hutzelman credits Miller with helping him learn the ropes of Career Tech when he took on his
role five years ago. “She’s fantastic. She does so many things here, I wouldn’t know where to start. She’s a go-to person for an awful lot of people at the high school and this community.”

Ten years ago, she started an Ultrusa Women’s Group at the high school called Ability, Service,
Training, Responsibility and Achievement (ASTRA). With 30-50 students each year giving of
their time, the group boasts at least 60 service hours annually. She is so proud of her student
volunteers, she takes the time to make personalized certificates acknowledging their

Miller also started a group called Girls Leading our World, which introduces female students to
female role models in technical careers. Additionally, she is proud of her work as liaison
between the AurGroup Credit Union and the Hamilton High School Big Blue Credit Union,
which is unique in that students have access to a credit union and an ATM machine right inside the school cafeteria. “I think it’s important for students to learn how to make good decisions financially,” she said.

Prior to coming to Hamilton City Schools, Miller worked for Diebold Inc. for 20 years making
ATM machines, vaults and safes. There, she was able to facilitate community programs such as
Positive Education Reaching Teens, which linked her with the school district. The transition to
full-time educator was a dream job.

“I have enjoyed the people I work with, especially the children,” she said. “I feel like I have
learned just as much from them, and I hope they have learned from me. It’s bittersweet, because
I know that it is time for me to retire, but I have enjoyed my job.”

Miller plans to take some time to travel with her husband and spend time with her two children,
six grandchildren and one great grandchild. However, she said it won’t be long before she
reconnects with the many Hamilton area organizations she holds dear to continue community
service work.

“We all have a purpose, and our purpose is to help each other to do whatever we can to make life
easier for someone else whether it is time or money or whatever you can do,” she said.

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