Pam Millikan’s proudest
moments come when she
sees former students around Franklin working as doctors, lawyers and in the military or with their own kids.
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Each time Millikan sees
them, she’s reminded of the time she had with them while they were in middle school.
Middle school is an impactful time for most students, as
much of what they thought they knew about the world is changing, she says. And Millikan relishes that she’s spent nearly four decades working with students during that formative time in their lives.
“I’ve known those students and feel I was a part of helping them to become the strong
leaders they are in the community, in their occupations,” Millikan said.
In two weeks, Millikan will retire as principal of Franklin Community Middle School, a job she’s had for nearly 25 years. In all, she’s spent 38 years in education, and all of that time was spent in a middle school.
“I love the age because
(the students) are so unique,” she said.
“They tell you what they think. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t. And they’re full of energy.”
Millikan grew up in Nineveh and attended Ball State University. Her first job was in Logansport in 1969. She returned to Johnson County four years later, as an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Custer Baker when it was still a middle school.
Millikan took seven years off from teaching in the 1970s to raise her two daughters and returned to Franklin schools in the 1980s to continue teaching language arts. In 1986, she became the middle school’s assistant principal and was named principal in 1990.
Leading a middle school requires someone to always be prepared to meet with students, parents and teachers about unexpected problems or conflicts, but Millikan always remained calm and level-headed, even during chaotic days, Superintendent David Clendening said.
“She didn’t just react,” Clendening said. “We’re going to miss that.”
That sense of calm comes largely from her father, who taught her how to step back and look at the factors contributing to a situation before deciding what to do about it, Millikan said. She also credits the teachers and other employees she’s worked with at the middle school with making her job easier.
She regularly told her staff that if they didn’t love working at a middle school then they needed to leave. That ensured that teachers and other employees were committed to helping students build on the lessons they learned in elementary and intermediate school and prepare for high school.
“It makes my job easier because they do their job so well,” Millikan said.
During her time at Franklin schools, Millikan has worked with the school board and other administrators on building projects, including the conversion of Custer Baker from a middle school to an intermediate school, and turning the old high school into a middle school.
“I felt like I was a contractor for a while,” she said.
Over the past decade, she’s watched as students have used technology and the Internet more in the classroom and in their daily lives.
Millikan worries that young students don’t always have a responsible adult ensuring they aren’t finding harmful content on the Internet. But she also rejects the notion that technology has fundamentally changed kids.
“They’re still just as genuine as they ever were,” she said.
In her retirement, Millikan said she likely will spend time working with the Association for Middle Level Education, an international group advancing education for students 10 to 15 years old. She’s also looking forward to spending time with her husband, daughters and grandchildren.
“That’s probably the thing I will enjoy the most,” she said.
Name: Pam Millikan
Time in education: 38 years
Longest job: Has been the middle school principal at Franklin since 1990
When she retires: In two weeks
Family: Husband, Steve; daughters, Andrea Perry and Leah Millikan; grandchildren, Oaklee and Cooper Perry