CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I may not remember the name of all of my high school teachers but no one who went to school at East Mecklenburg High School between 1973 and 1982 will forget Leroy
“Pop” Miller. Pop died last Friday in Kansas City, Missouri.
I recently sat down with some former students and staff to reflect on his legacy. My friend Phil Brooks appreciated the way he seemed to know every one of his 2,000 students.
"Just the way he could walk through the school, no matter what section of the school he was in, and call out everybody by their last name.
His sister Laurie Brooks remembers a man who knew how to help bring a shy teenager, who was new to Charlotte, out of her shell.
"I never would have run for class president, joined a civic organization. He just brought it out and he made me feel like family.”
That’s a word I heard used to describe Pop over and over again. We all felt accountable to Pop in the same way we were to our parents.
Former student George Miller said, “If you didn't perform to his expectations, he wanted to know why. Pop had a special gift to identify to figure out what your gifts were. He had a way of steering you where you would excel, where you could shine with your gifts whatever they were.”
His longtime assistant principal, Barbara Ledford, says Pop intuitively believed in management by walking around long before it became popular to be a “visible” leader.
"And Pop knew that. Just intuitively, knew that this is what you needed to do and the students obviously felt that he knew everything that was going on."
He led West Charlotte High School during the first year of busing for integration in 1970, and then moved over to East Mecklenburg High School three years later. But no matter what was going on outside the school, he worked hard to maintain a focus on education inside.
"I'll never forget, one day a large number of students walked out of class and he was walking the hall praising complimenting all the teachers and students who were in the building in the classroom still learning still conducting class. And he was not out there chasing and trying to get the students who were disruptive back. He was letting the students know the good decision they had made and what they were doing for themselves for their peers for their parents for the city and for education," former teacher Judy Windle said.
Leroy “Pop” Miller’s funeral will be this Sunday at 3:00 pm at Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church. The public is welcome to attend.