Garland Independent School District is a family affair for Samanda Miller and her family. The mom of two works as a parent engagement facilitator in the Garland ISD, while her husband of 11 years, Kendall, is the head football coach for a Dallas County high school. Samanda, a native Oregonian, and her lifelong Dallasite partner live in Rowlett with their two children, Sydney, 8, and Kara, 6.
5AM There goes my alarm to remind me to hit the gym. I’ve been trying to work out more but my 40s are here to tell me that I’m no spring chicken. But off to the gym I go.
6AM Back home. Quick shower and sneak in just enough news to figure out what to wear in this fickle Texas weather. Kendall and I have a few undisturbed minutes to update each other on our schedules. Even though it’s not football season, he is his school’s athletic director and oversees all campus athletic programs. This means that he usually has to stay late.
6:30AM Time to wake up the girls and get ready for school. This year I’m letting them eat breakfast in the cafeteria. It’s not ideal, but it gives them about 40 extra minutes of sleep each day. I’m still trying to decide if those precious minutes are worth the extra money I’m putting into their meal accounts every month.
6:45AM Kendall promises to call me later and is out the door. I finally have the girls ready so that I can brush their hair. This is an ordeal! Neither one of them likes this part of our morning routine, so I distract them with their iPads.
7:15AM Out the door and on our way to school. My last words to Kara as she gets out of the car are, “No licking!” Kara has Down syndrome and she’s being mainstreamed into general education this year. We’ve had some challenges, and I’m hoping that we’ve made the right choice with her placement.
7:30AM I’m finally alone in my car and can listen to something other than Kidz Bop. I tell myself that if I’m not running late, I’ll stop by Starbucks to pick up a chai tea latte. Who am I kidding? I’m stopping at Starbucks regardless.
8AM I make it to work—and on time too! I recently started a new position in Garland ISD as a parent engagement facilitator. Previously I was a middle school counselor and while I miss working with students, I love knowing that I’ve helped connect parents with schools in ways to support students’ academic success. My morning starts with catching up with my coworkers. Each person oversees a different program, but we coordinate what support we provide to schools and families to prevent overlapping services.
9AM I return messages and sneak in some emails about my own kids. Kendall and I are fortunate enough to work in the same school district as our kids, so it’s easy to keep the lines of communication open with their teachers. I also conduct training and staff development.
10AM The rest of the morning is spent visiting campuses to meet with administrators. Right now my focus is to provide literacy workshops to show parents how to support reading at home. I am also working on making video tutorials on how to use the Parent Portal, our online student management system.
12:15PM Lunch. On a good day it’s Panera or Jason’s Deli. On a stressful day it’s Whataburger. Today is a good day.
1PM My coworker and I are able to dedicate the afternoon to working on our videos. We’re in the last stages, so it’s final edits and voiceovers before it will go on the district website and YouTube channel.
4:30PM Is it time to go home already? I rush home to take Sydney to soccer practice. Hopefully the sitter made sure she’s ready to go because we’ll have to leave almost as soon as I get home.
5PM I get home and throw together a quick dinner while the sitter fills me in on the girls’ days. While I cook, the girls shout out their dinner requests—usually pizza or spaghetti. Whatever they request, it’s never what I’m cooking. It’s Tuesday, so that means tacos. We quickly eat and Sydney and I are off to practice. Kara stays with the sitter until Kendall gets home.
5:30PM While Sydney and her team run drills, I chat with the other moms. I never thought that I would be a “soccer mom,” but here I am. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Oregon, so a suburban soccer mom wasn’t ever how I envisioned my future self. Not that I’m complaining.
7PM Practice is done, and we are back home. Sydney eats a full dinner, which gives me time to talk with Kara for a bit. We practice her sight words and some speech activities until it’s time for bath and PJ time. Kendall is home too, so we all have a little time to relax all together and talk before bed.
8PM Story time and bedtime for the girls. They share a room, which gives me a chance to lay down with them individually as they go to sleep. I read aloud Peppa Pig for Kara and Dog Man for Sydney.
8:30PM Shh, do you hear that? That’s the sound of sleeping children. Kendall and I can finally talk again. We talk about our days, and then I start to get ready for bed while he turns to his computer to prep for tomorrow’s off-season workouts.
9:30PM I’m in bed. I watch a little television to decompress. I’m definitely not trying to watch the news right now, but it’s hard to look away.
10PM I try to stay awake to watch the news and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but I barely make it past the monologue. It’s lights out for this mom.