DERRY — A local elementary school has honored a longtime district educator by renaming its gymnasium.
Derry Village Elementary School now calls its gym the Stephen A. Miller Gymnasium to honor Miller, who worked at Derry Village for 35 years as a physical education teacher, assistant principal then as principal.
Miller retired in 2014. The school board approved the naming of the gym in Miller's honor last year.
At a gym dedication ceremony May 30, Miller was surrounded by family, students, school staff, and district administrators as he was celebrated for his many years at Derry Village.
Current Derry Village Principal Chris McCallum gave the students a brief history lesson about Miller's tenure at the school and all he accomplished, first as teacher then administrator. He also spoke of the gym's history and how it eventually was expanded to its present size.
"For you, it's an amazing time," McCallum told students, "to be part of an historic event."
McCallum served as an assistant principal under Miller's watch, calling him a mentor and someone who supported his own journey from teacher to an administrator.
McCallum went on to say Miller was a strong advocate for educating students and did this in many ways, introducing new programs and systems and being an excellent data collector and interpreter for reaching out to individual families and students.
Having the gym named for Miller is also fitting as he was a longtime supporter and teacher of physical education.
In keeping with Miller's retirement wishes five years ago, McCallum said there was no retirement party and Miller's final request was to drop the keys on the desk on the last day and walk out the door.
"And that's what he did," McCallum said. "And we are proud to be part of his history. It's very important to hear stories of the past. That defines us as a school and are the building blocks of what we are today."
Derry Village celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
For Miller, it was an honor to be back at Derry Village. He was joined by wife Jeanne, sons Corey and Brett and future daughter-in-law Ashley Fodero.
"It's hard to believe next year will be 40 years since my first year of teaching," Miller said.
He credited his wife for her support and thanked administrators and staff for all they do at the school and in the district.
"And one last thing before I say thank you again, please don't call ever call your class gym class," Miller told the students. "The gym is what you are sitting in. Your class is physical education."
Miller was presented with a plaque to be placed in the gym in his honor. A reception followed the dedication and Miller joined McCallum for a final dismissal duty at the school.