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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

James "Doc" Miller Receives SCASD Distinguished Service Award

James 'Doc' MillerJames "Doc" Miller, recipient of the 2010 SCASD Distinguished Service Award
I confess: I participated in some local hoodwinkery during the past couple weeks. I participated in a secret plot to get Madison High School English teacher James "Doc" Miller out to Spearfish last weekend to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Speech Communication Association of South Dakota. Mission accomplished: reports from out west say Doc had no idea this award was coming.

This award should be no surprise for anyone who has followed Doc's career. The press release below summarizes a few of his accomplishments.

Permit me to add that Doc Miller means a great deal to me. I participated in seven of his theatre productions at MHS. He taught me sophomore speech and composition. During my brief tenure as a teacher at MHS, Doc provided invaluable mentorship. Doc hired myself and another former student, Toby Uecker, to help him run the Karl E. Mundt Dakota Invitational Oral Interpretation Contest, and when he stepped down from directing that contest, he entrusted that event to us. In every interaction I've had with him, on stage, in the classroom, or at contests, Doc has always exhibited a passion for giving students the opportunity to excel.

Doc Miller is a vital asset to our school district. Here's what his fellow professional have to say:

Long-time educator and stage director James “Doc” Miller was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Speech Communication Association of South Dakota at their annual banquet and business meeting, held September 10 at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Spearfish.

A graduate of Northern State University and with a Masters from South Dakota State University, Miller began his teaching career Polo, SD, and joined the Madison community and schools in 1976. While he has had his share of classroom accomplishments, the association’s award focuses on his achievements and contributions in the field of drama.

As theatre director at Madison, Miller helmed nearly 70 productions, many of them for the State One-Act Play competition. Under Miller's direction, Madison HS has garnered over twenty State Festival superior play rankings and numerous individual and ensemble acting awards. As one colleague put it, “Doc Miller has affected more lives, spotlighted more students, created more stars, and if not stars at least more confident students than any of us have a right to wish for.”

A former student applauded Miller’s inclusive program that welcomed every student who wanted to participate. Parents chimed in with praise for Miller, stating that he created a program that enabled students to “grow in their own skills” that “help form a well-rounded individual and that have a surprising amount of relevance to the real world outside of high school.”

In his position as play director, Miller has also served the SDHSAA by serving on various ad hoc committees, chairing numerous Oral Interp and One-Act Play events, and helping run tabulation rooms at state events.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to a deserving member of the Speech Communication Association. Selection is considered from among the membership, and a committee of past recipients nominates and votes on the current honoree. Many of Doc Miller’s colleagues were on hand to shower him with praise for this achievement [SCASD press release, 2010.09.14].


  1. “Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” (Yeats)

    Congrats to Doc! Fantastic, and so well-deserved!

  2. Becca (Bergheim) Pivonka9/15/2010 9:57 PM

    Congrats to Doc! You were, and will continue to be, a fantastic influence on your students!

  3. Pleased to see this happen for him. I only knew him as Mr. Miller, no Doc, just a first time high school teacher in 76 when I was in his first class at MHS. I saw him grow, and grow, teaching my other sibs, nieces and nephew's and traveled back to see his work. What an asset to my home town, a rare bread, indeed.

    Kevin J. Weiland, MHS grad of 1979


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