Amy Miller was special.
An educator with a lifetime of success she arrived at the Institute of Education as Secretary of the Joint Board of Teacher Education, just after retiring from St Josephs Teachers College as a Principal Lecturer. The Joint Board at that time was operating on a shoe-string. The Office was a medium size Seminar Room. The staff consisted of the Secretary, Amy, and three junior staff members. The magnitude of the tasks to be done could not be more unfavorably matched with the meagreness of the resources available to carry them out. This is no way deterred Mrs. Amy Miller.
Amy was the Secretary of the Board conferring with College Principals, Ministry Officials, University Lecturers and Administrators concerning teacher education policies. She was the legal officer interpreting Joint Board Rules and Regulations. She was the chief organiser of the external assessment of practical teaching. She was the proofreader of examination papers and, at some times, the courier ensuring that these papers were delivered to colleges on time.
I can personally attest to these circumstances of the Joint Board from being Principal of the Mico and after returning to the University in 1981 and becoming Chairman of the Joint Board. Miller the Chairman and Miller the Secretary raised some questions of relationship as Millers but there was none. She was one of my tutors in the workings of the inner operations of the Joint Board not seen by outsiders. Her tutelage both sobered and challenged me. Amy was just precious: a gem.
To deny that Amy was amiable and affable would be to overlook her generous physical endowment that signalled ease of relationship and to ignore her even greater heart and nobility of spirit. Amy got along with everybody. She laughed in a manner that was infectious that brought response even from those reluctant to smile. She saw the better side of all of us and by that always got the best from most of us. She seldom complained and when she did so it was with compelling reason.
The time came when Amy retired from the Joint Board. But having left the scene of daily toil Amy was always called up to render assistance in multiple ways. She was an external examiner when there was a need. She participated in the external assessment of teaching practice. She continued to proofread examination papers. Amy was always there whenever help was needed. From her home in Mona Heights, she was not far from the Joint Board and the work of the Joint Board was never far from her. She was that kind of dependable, salt of the earth, reliable, steadfast and solid personality that is the bedrock of institutional continuity. She was never intrusive but always available when called.
Born in colonial times, Mrs. Amy Miller went to school when students sang “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules the Waves”. She started her teaching career when the coals of nationalism began to catch fire. Motivated by the flames of that fire Amy became a nation-builder. She saw the possibilities of a new Jamaica and sought to bring it to past. She made her contribution at whatever level of the education system she worked at. All can attest to the quality of the contributions she made.
Long life has allowed Amy to outlive the majority of her peers. Those of us who crossed her path from the vantage point of a succeeding generation hold fond memories of her charm, intellect and indomitable spirit. We salute an outstanding Jamaican at the time of her departure from this earth.
I deeply regret that I am unable, for reasons of previously planned obligations from which it is virtually impossible for me to excuse myself, to pay this tribute personally. To her relatives and friends accept my sincere condolences.
Amy, rest in peace! We will see you in the morning.
Institute of Education, UWI, Mona