“I woke up this morning a Sachse Mustang,” says Frank Miller, entering his new office at 9449 Church Road, and I’m going home tonight a Lake Highlands Wildcat.”
So began the tenure of LHHS’ newest principal, a 1986 graduate of Highland Park High who has lived in and near Lake Highlands much of his life and says he grew up with a strong attachment to the neighborhood.
“My best friend went to Lake Highlands and my first job was waiting tables at the original Chili’s on Greenville Avenue. We have family raising their children here [LH resident Kendra Jones is his wife’s cousin], and,” he jokes, “I love my White Rock Coffee.”
“I’m very aware of the pride in this area. It’s one of the most attractive things about this area – that the PTA is strong, the community is strong. There is a tradition, and I want to embrace our past and leverage that. I want it to be a calling card for us. At the same time I want to acknowledge our present and aim for our future. I believe this can be one of the best schools in the state.”
Miller taught history, geography, speech and theater before becoming a principal, and before that he learned woodworking from his grandfather and traveled with theatrical productions as a stage carpenter.”
“My first goal is to get to know everyone, to build relationships,” Miller says. “I want to be at as many functions as possible – Chamber events, football games, volleyball, choir, Wrangler performances – whatever is going on. The more you see a kid doing something, the more you can start a conversation.”
Miller says he’ll quickly jump into analyzing ways to improve.
“We just got our state data, and we earned four distinctions, which is wonderful. I need to take apart that data and develop a plan to get better.”
“I want this to be a better bargain than sending a kid to Jesuit or Ursuline or Hockaday,” adds Miller. “I want, when our diploma is side by side with another, for that recruiter or employer to say ‘I know what that means, and that has value.’ Because if our kids are going to go to Stanford and Harvard and Yale, they have to be able to compete nationally.”
Miller, whose previous school had demographics very similar to those of LH’s, said he understands the challenges of Title I schools with at-risk student populations.
“You have to really focus in on your instruction and treat every kid the same. Good instruction is good instruction and it’s targeted and data-driven. I believe whole-heartedly that every parent wants what’s best for their child. We’ll have to look at barriers, but we can harness assets and work together.”
Miller recently moved to Fate to be nearer his Sachse job with wife Malinda, third grade son Evan, Kindergarten daughter Grace Caroline, and 2-year-old “handful” Amelia, aka Millie. The family enjoys the space and freedom of “country living,” but Miller says they’ll now make a family decision about whether to move back to LH.
Miller says he looks forward to meeting members of the community at LHHS events this fall.