Students from 50 years of Henry County High School’s drama and speech department gathered Sunday afternoon to honor the dedication of the former Little Theater to Linda Wilson Miller, who has served HCHS since it opened in 1969.
The theater, now christened The Linda Wilson Miller Theater, welcomed former students and others touched by Miller through the years to honor a beloved educator and coach.
Miller no longer teaches theater classes at HCHS, but has continued to coach the speech/debate team post-retirement.
“My son might say I spent more time here than at home, and he might be on to something,” Miller addressed the room with a fond smile. “This is my second home.”
Principal Michele Webb opened the ceremony and spoke about the many years Miller has served the students of the school before introducing Grove School Principal Tim Mason, who originally suggested the theater be dedicated to Miller.
Mason said he knew of many at-risk students through the years who were influenced and bettered by Miller’s teaching.
James Matthew Wyatt, current speech and drama teacher and a former student of Miller, said she taught him two things above anything else — dedication and passion.
Wyatt said Miller took him aside after he missed a couple of speech team tournaments, and reminded him of his responsibility to the team.
Webb introduced video submissions from notable former students Bart Herbison, Nashville Songwriters Association International executive director, and actress Summer Crockett Moore, who were not able to attend the event.
Holly Todd, another former student, who taught speech and theater at HCHS after Miller’s retirement and before Wyatt took over the position, spoke about how Miller modeled professionalism and poise as her teacher.
Perhaps Miller’s most notable former student, Emmy and Tony award winner Cherry Jones took the stage next.
“When I won my first Tony, the first person I thanked after my director, the playwright and my castmates was Linda Wilson Miller,” she reflected.
Jones said anyone who had taken a speech or theater class with Miller would know the theater’s dedication was well-deserved.
Miller remembered her many years of teaching, from time spent in the classroom to time spent traveling to competitions with students.
She thanked her own mentor, Ruby Krider, and said she was beyond thankful that she was able to make a lifelong career out of something she loved.