Ethel O. Miller School
Ethel O. Miller was an elementary school teacher of the African American School beginning in 1924. Her husband, Asbury Mansfield Miller, was the school’s principal, known by his students as “Prof” since he also taught the junior high grades at the school. At the time the couple joined the staff at the African American School, it was 19 years old and in poor condition with broken windows and peeling paint. The curriculum was developed for students attending 1st through 9th grade, but no high school classes were added until 1947. At that time, students exceeded available space, and many classes were taught in the basements of nearby churches. It was obvious a bigger facility was absolutely necessary.
Ms. Miller taught at the African American School for at least 15 years. She did not live to see the new school built and dedicated in Batesville in 1952, but her name lived on in the school’s name, the Ethel O. Miller School. The original school stood where the gymnasium of the more modern building is now erected. Even while the school was new, it did not enjoy the same level of accommodations as other schools and students suffered daily on uncomfortable chairs and learned very little aside from basic classes, although students were offered home economics and the chance to play on or watch their award-winning Buffalos basketball team. Ms. Miller was instrumental in offering as many programs as she could piece together, giving students experience in the Glee Club, Rhythm Band, and acrobatics.
The Ethel O. Miller School served its community proudly for 60 years, from its roots as a two-story schoolhouse to its modern mid-century building. While it was not abandoned because of age or condition, in 1964 public schools integrated and the students at Ethel O. Miller School slowly joined their classmates within the Batesville Public Schools, beginning with the elementary students in 1964 and culminating with the high school students integrating in 1966. The original 1952 structure is still visible at 850 Oak Street, gently cascading down the hill in a series of connected buildings only two blocks away from the museum. Go by and pay homage to an outstanding example of Batesville’s history and the woman whose name graced the austere building.