By Nita Miller
It’s All About You was the topic of Dr. Ferrell Miller’s presentation at the January 25 Celebration of Optimism meeting at the Hampton Inn in Junction City. Ferrell used the three parts of the accordion the keyboard, bellows and bass buttons to demonstrate that “music on the accordion cannot be played unless all three parts work in consort with each other. He stated that “this is true in life. We make decisions about who we trust, who we spend time with, what kind of person we are and want to become, will be one who works with or against others to compromise and make things better.”
Ferrell was five years old when he began taking lessons to learn to play the accordion. At the end of a trial period, he was given an aptitude test to determine potential and for his parents to make a decision about continuing with lessons. He failed his first test and his mother cried and asked that he be given a second test. That happened and perhaps he was allowed to pass the second test. That was the beginning of his relationship with his teacher.
Aileen Spratt, his long-time private teacher was one of his greatest supporters. She encouraged him and challenged him to compete in local, state, national and eventually international competitions through his junior high and senior high school years. In 1959, Ferrell was the State of Ohio Champion Accordionist and was designated to compete in the international competition.
Ferrell admitted to the Optimist Club members that he did not apply himself in high school. He never read a required novel and rarely did his homework. When it came time to graduate high school, his counselor told him he had not prepared himself for college and should not plan to do so. His mother again cried and told Ferrell he would go to college and study music. So, he began classes at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and after several attempts was asked not to return to his studies because of poor performance in classes.
In 1967, Ferrell was drafted into the US Army in part because he was not enrolled or was attending a university. During his two year tour in the Army, he discovered his purpose, which was to share his talent and love of music with young people through teaching students how to work as a unit in a choral performance. He went back to BGSU after having married his wife, Nita. Ferrell successfully completed his student teaching experience and degree requirements to become a teacher. A job opened at Fort Riley Junior High on Fort Riley for a vocal music teacher and he was selected.
Ferrell spent 14 years as a vocal music teacher, achieved his Master’s Degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in School Administration from Kansas State University. He was hired as an Assistant Principal at Junction City High School for 4 years and believed that working together to improve an entire school like Junction City Middle School was his calling and was hired as the Principal there for 21 years. Ferrell received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University in 1994.
“It’s All About You and whether you choose to improve yourself one day at a time; believe in yourself no matter what others think; surround yourself with positive/optimistic people; have a desire to work with and serve others and do your best every day” he said.