FLUSHING — Flushing High School social worker Pam Miller is the 2021 recipient of the Service Above Self Award presented by the Rotary Club of Flushing.
Miller, a longtime staff member at Flushing Community Schools, was presented with the award for her dedication to counseling students and launching outreach efforts for kids and their families.
Marty Barta, Rotary Club of Flushing president and former assistant principal at Flushing High School, said that Miller works relentlessly to get students the help they need, whether it involves situations at school and at home or scenarios involving mental health.
“(Pam) is deeply concerned about the students with whom she provides services,” Barta said. “She is confidential but also knows at what point she needs to seek help from outside sources. She is an exceptional listener, and the students know that she listens to their concerns.”
Along with her counseling work, Miller is described as having an “open wallet” because she frequently buys clothes, shoes, coats, lunches, food and other necessities for many students and their families in the Flushing community. For instance, Miller established a Prom Dress room, where she allows students to pick out dresses for an upcoming dance if they cannot afford to purchase one themselves.
Although she purchases many of the items herself, Miller has put together a network of community organizations and people whom she calls on for assistance when necessary. Over the years, she has arranged for beds, refrigerators and other household items to be delivered to families who need them and coordinated meals for families in the Flushing Community School District—especially around the holidays.
“Pam adopts students and their families every year during the holidays, gathering gifts that the students and the family want and need,” said Barta. “She digs deep into her own pocket to provide a holiday for these families. She takes no credit for these gifts, saying they are from Santa or from an anonymous donor.”
When the COVID-19 shutdown happened, Miller volunteered to help pack and distribute meals for FCS families—never missing a day of food distribution. She also volunteered at Flushing Christian Outreach Center to help pack and distribute food.
Professionally, Miller heads up the high school’s PPSC (Promoting Positive School Climate) efforts. In this capacity, she leads students, teachers and staff members in promoting a positive school climate at the high school by spearheading Raider Rewards when students are “caught doing something great.” She also hangs positivity banners throughout the high school and plays a huge role in preparing for the district’s annual Raider Rally to kick off a new school year.
In addition to being a problem solver for students, Miller serves as the high school’s “truancy officer” by tracking students’ attendance, arranging meetings with students and parents when a child has attendance issues and—when necessary—filing truancy paperwork with the county. Miller attends truancy hearings at Genesee County Probate Court and does all the follow-up work on getting students back on track and attending school.
The Rotary Club of Flushing’s Service Above Self Award reflects Rotary International’s motto and seeks to recognize someone in the Flushing community who goes above and beyond (Service above Self) in their service to the community and beyond, thereby exemplifying the Rotary motto. The recipient is always a non-Rotarian.