COMMERCE - Though her physical presence has ceased within the halls of Commerce Middle School, Shanna Miller's memory lives on - and will for a very long time.
Tuesday, family members and school officials gathered at the school for a dedication of the recently completed Shanna Miller Memorial Storm Shelter.
The safe room was made possible through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant written by Miller in 2003.
The 1,706. square-foot concrete building has a total occupancy of 230 people and is designed to serve the school and the Commerce community in the event of severe weather or disaster.
"This would never have been possible without Shanna," said Middle School Principal Herb Logan, who is also Miller's father.
Miller was employed at Commerce Middle School as a Special Education instructor, 21st Century Program Director and grant writer.
On March 11, 2005, she lost her battle with melanoma cancer and died at the age of 32, but she left behind a legacy of achievements that will continue to serve the children and community she loved.
“This safe room was very important to Shanna,” said her husband, Scott Miller. “It is important to me because our kids will be coming over here someday (from the elementary school) to use the building and it will be here for a very long time.”
In addition to serving as a community shelter, the Shanna Miller Storm Shelter is used daily as a science classroom, “a much needed addition,”, according to school officials.
“Because of Shanna's gifted efforts in writing grants, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given back to the surrounding communities through the purchase of computers, equipment, supplies and food for the after school program,” Logan said. “Fairland High School received a similar grant for a safe room through a grant written by Shanna.”
Miller, a 1990 graduate of Commerce High School, acquired more than $1.75 million for Commerce and neighboring school districts over a period of five years.
The community remembers Miller not only by what she contributed to the school, but also for her own accomplishments.
Miller was the first in Commerce's history to be named an all-state softball pitcher. She graduated with honors from Missouri Southern State University in 1994, obtained a masters degree from Pittsburg State University in 1998.
She was the first educator in Commerce to be named a National Board Certified Teacher and was named Commerce Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2003.
“She was a great wife and a great mother,” Scott Miller said. “She loved what she did.”
One of her last requests was for a scholarship program to be established in her name to help insure that other Commerce students could pursue their goals to further their education and become productive members of society.
In order to ensure that the scholarship can become an annual award, a committee was formed to establish guidelines and begin fundraising efforts.
Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m., a barbecue dinner and pie auction will be held at the Commerce Middle School to raise money for the Shanna Miller Scholarship fund.