Written by Juanita Fox
At Garden Spot Village relationships and community transcend age. Jen Miller, 22, began volunteering at Garden Spot Village in the summer of 2011 at age 17 when the Wellness Department needed some extra help at the pool.
In January 2012 she began working nights and weekends at the pool. After graduating from Warwick High School in June 2012, Miller began working full time through the summer. That fall she started at West Chester University, pursuing a degree in music education with a focus on percussion. During winter and summer breaks she returned to Garden Spot Village over the next several years.
When she completed her degree at West Chester in May 2016 Miller decided to wait a year before pursuing a full-time position in music education. “I didn’t want to burn out,” she says. While she added teaching experience to her resume through helping to direct the Warwick School District’s Marching Band during the fall of 2016, she continued working in the wellness department, teaching classes and helping in the pool.
As a music educator, she appreciates how her role in the wellness department allows her to learn and improve her teaching skills in a safe space. Miller enjoys teaching the members of her classes new techniques. She says, “When I bring a new concept or idea to class [the members] soak it up.” For example, when the wellness department introduced chair chi a while ago, the class sizes quickly grew because participants felt better and energized after the class.
In February 2017 Miller began to assist part time in life enrichment. The move offered her a completely different experience. “I met a whole new group of residents on trips,” she says.
Miller appreciates the flexibility her positions offer her and the leadership opportunities her supervisors present to her. “I can give input that is valuable through my role on the education committee,” she says. She filled in for another staff member for orientation one month and now regularly leads a session. “I’m willing to take on new challenges,” she says, which creates “lots of opportunity to grow.”
Miller continues to pursue music education, adding a role with Ephrata School District’s marching band this fall in addition to the assistant role at Warwick. She teaches front ensembles of marching bands, which includes the mallet instruments, keyboard and drums.
Her experiences teaching teens mirror her experiences teaching wellness classes. Regardless of the age, her students desire social interaction and want to know more about who she is as an individual. She says, “They want to connect with me, with others.”
“I think one of the best things you can do is get different perspectives,” Miller says. Her roles in wellness, life enrichment and marching band offer endless opportunities to do just that.