Luca Kelley Nielsen/Sagamore Staff
After working in graphic design, at a Newton day school, a Norwood clinic and Boston College, Deborah Miller is bringing her talents to Brookline High School’s BRYT program. Originally from New Jersey, Miller has lived in the Boston area for 25 years and majored in photography at Boston College. She enjoys Wes Anderson movies and walking her dog in Coolidge Corner.
Do you enjoy the environment at BHS and the way teachers welcome you?
I love the environment here. I was so excited to get a job here. Not to give too much information in the beginning here, but my youngest graduated last year, so this was a great way for me to stay connected to the high school. Sort of a dream job. To become a social worker here is amazing.
What inspired you in the first place to become a social worker? Do you have any major role models?
For social work, it was wanting to be able to make a difference in helping people. Not something really measurable, not on a big scale, but to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. I think one of my role models is my mother, who was a social worker, and some teachers that I had. My high school English teacher was one who was a really big influence and somebody who can really have an effect on your self perception and motivation.
What advice would you give a student at BHS?
I would say follow a path that holds to your values. As an adolescent in your high school years, it is really tempting to go on with other people and what they expect of you and what they want from you, or other ideas of what people think is fun or cool. It would be really hard to find what your own values are, but that’s an important thing to figure out and stick to.
Out of all the programs at BHS, why is BYRT very important to you personally?
BYRT is special because it helps kids that have missed a lot of school and it especially addresses illnesses for social or emotional reasons or mental illness kind of things with psychiatric hospitalization or a medical hospitalization. We get a lot of kids that have had concussions. For the kinds of things people do not necessarily know that students need more support in kind of bouncing back from. To be able to provide this is a really thoughtful and specific way of helping students transition back into being more full-time students and fully integrated into the school. It is seen as a short term program, which is one of the differences with the other programs, which is helpful.
Were there any rewarding experiences from your time as a photographer?
When I was doing my thesis, I wanted to photograph the Boston Commercial Fishing Pier, and it was really my experiences there and interacting with the workers there. It started out as an abstract visual study, but then I got really connected with the guys that work there, and not necessarily the fishermen. Building the trust in that relationship and being able to maintain that and also having them be comfortable letting me photograph them was the combination of elements that really came together for me with that. It was building those relationships and then capturing those images that was really rewarding, and I think that also feeds into becoming a social worker and developing relationships and engagement.