AUBURN — Longtime Edward Little High School Principal James Miller announced Monday he’s retiring.

“I told the staff this afternoon,” Miller said, tearing up once while talking about his decision to leave. His office walls sport the maroon and white school colors.

He’s an Edward Little man.

Miller, 64, has been the high school principal for 24 years since taking over for Larry Labrie. Before that, Miller was an assistant principal at Edward Little and at Walton, the former ninth grade school. Before that he taught math.

Miller graduated from Edward Little in 1970.

Edward Little “has become my life in more ways than one,” he said. “I’ve made it my hobby as well, so that’s a struggle with what do I do next year?” He smiled and said he’ll find something.

“I’m not a sit-still person. I’ll be taking a few months to decide what I want to do with my life now that I’ve graduated. It’s taken me 40 years to get out of high school,” he joked.

After college, Miller taught two years in New Hampshire. He was hired by the Auburn School Department in 1976. After 40 years, “it’s time to bring some new life, new ideas, fresh vision,” Miller said.

Superintendent Katy Grondin said she plans to begin the search soon and have a new principal hired by late spring to allow for a smooth transition.

Grondin praised Miller as a high-energy principal who never lost sight that everything was about helping students.

“His commitment level has never waned over the many years,” she said. Through educational changes and reform, Miller embraced new ways.

“He’s a lifelong learner,” Grondin said. “His major focus are these kids.” He understands the importance of supporting staff so they could be their best, Grondin said.

“He lives and breathes that school,” she said. When a teacher or administrator is struggling, Miller calls to counsel and offer help. “He will definitely be very missed,” Grondin said.

Edward Little librarian Patricia Gauthier agreed.

“I’m sad to see him go, but I’m going too,” she said. She retiring in June.

“Jimmy’s always been there,” she said. “Everything he’s done it’s all about the kids.” He’s good to work for, “but also a catalyst for us to do our job and do it well.”

Miller is married to technology integrator Carol Miller, who is also retiring from the Auburn School Department in June. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.

Through his 40 years in education, Miller said students haven’t changed.

“Kids are still kids,” he said. But society has become more violent, and “it worries me,” he said. Social economics have changed. More families struggle.

He wishes that Auburn got a new high school. “That would be nice for the kids and community. It’ll be here eventually. I wish I could have been here for it,” he said.

Miller said he has no regrets. “I’ve had a great run.” He never had a day when he wished he was doing something else. He said he looked forward to coming to work every day. He used to get lonely in the summer when the staff and students weren’t there.

“I’ll miss the staff and students,” he said.

Miller said he hopes he’s made a difference in the lives of students and that he helped build a stronger community.

On Thanksgiving he got a call out of the blue from a former student. “He said, ‘You probably don’t remember, but something you said to me 15 years ago turned my life around.’” The man said he never thanked Miller and wanted to.

“Those are the things you work for,” Miller said. “Building a community, building a society, building young adults into becoming adults. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about math content and science. It’s about building people.”

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Possible pull quote:

“Those are the things you work for. Building a community, building a society, building young adults into becoming adults. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about math content and science. It’s about building people.”

— James Miller, retiring principal of Edward Little High School

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