Meet Sophie Miller
What is special about AIS?
I am always amazed by the energy and passion for learning at AIS, from both students and teachers alike. Despite any highs and lows in a school year, the sense of community here is inspiring. Agnes Irwin always finds a way to strike a balance between honoring traditions and striving for innovation and growth as a school and community.
What do you love most about teaching art?
Art is culture. It can embody the history of the world, innovation, and self-expression. I love teaching this subject because my students are able to connect their projects and topics to other classes at AIS, often allowing us to collaborate with other teachers and subjects too. Art allows students to explore and express who they are, teaching them patience, perseverance, and embracing creativity as part of personal discovery.
How did you, yourself, become interested in art?
I grew up surrounded by art and artists in my family. My parents and grandparents took me to museums and art galleries, and provided me with art materials regularly growing up.
Were you always a creative person? Do you have a favorite medium?
Yes, as long as I can remember I have been making, drawing, and thinking about art and design. Outside of teaching, I am a graphic designer and a printmaker.
Tell us about one of your favorites projects students have taken in your class?
Last year's collaborative and cross-divisional 150 Repeat Patterns was one of my favorite projects so far at Agnes Irwin. Seeing so many student perspectives and experiences at AIS represented in unique artistic ways was really special.
One of my favorite recurring projects is in my Media Arts I class where students redesign their favorite music album, book cover, or movie poster. This is the final project in the class and requires students to draw on all their knowledge of the principles and elements of design, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, as well as conducting research on the original design work for their subject, and explaining styles or artists who influenced their renewed design concept. At the end, each student writes a short essay, referencing their research and inspiration for their project as well as presenting it to the class.
How important is it to allow for creativity in girls' education?
I believe it is essential and critical that creativity is at the center of girls' education. In my teaching I find students learn more deeply and more meaningfully when their projects encourage the use of their imagination and make space for self-expression and discovery.
How has technology affected your classroom practices?
As a graphic design teacher, access to technology is important, and at AIS I have had full and continuous support to provide my students with the best technology — such as the Adobe Suite, high-quality printers, drawing tablets, and programs for font design, 3D prototyping, website wireframing, and even augmented reality. Overall, I do my best to use screen time with students as a tool, and not just a platform for learning. I believe it is critical for students to understand and practice creating with their hands first, drawing, painting, and building concepts prior to digital development.
What fun fact about you would surprise people?
I grew up riding horses and competed in college at a national level. I still ride today, although just casually.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
"Patience and perseverance" is a personal mantra for me artistically. As a teacher, I hope to inspire and grow creative confidence in my students, so they remember that creativity and inspiration sometimes takes time. I also try to teach as many possible mediums so my students know that being a creative or artist has more than one path and career choice. You can always find ways of being creative outside of your career in equally meaningful ways.
Started at AIS: 2016
Teaches: Middle and Upper School Art, and coaches Middle School JV Field Hockey and Basketball.