McLouth teacher prepares for Iraq

? Shawn Miller plays many roles in his life.

At his home in Tonganoxie, he is the loving husband to his wife, Gretchen. At work, he is a mentor, teacher and role model to dozens of students at McLouth Middle School. And he’s served as an assistant coach on the McLouth High School football team.

But now his country has asked him to continue a role he has played since he was 17 years old, that of a member of the Kansas National Guard.

Capt. Miller, commander of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, left home last week to continue training in preparation for deployment to Iraq.

“It’s so great to have a community like McLouth,” Miller told an assembly of the middle and high school students in his honor. “It’s tough to leave such a great community like this.”

Tom Pierce, McLouth assistant principal, said Miller surprised the faculty when he told them about his deployment.

“We were all very disappointed when it happened,” Pierce said. “At the same time, we are very proud of him, and he’s got all of our prayers and support.”

During the assembly, Pierce spoke about how great of an asset Miller has been to the school and how he has been a great role model.

He also presented Miller with two McLouth Bulldog flags.

“This is something he can look at and remember we are all here thinking of him,” Pierce said.

Pierce said when Miller returns, the school will hang the flag in Miller’s honor.

“I’m going to miss being in the classroom and interacting with all the students,” said Miller, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science.

At the assembly, Pierce told Gretchen Miller that if she ever needed anything like help around the house, to not hesitate to call the school and it would find help. Miller said he knows those making the pledge really meant it.

“It’s so great to have a community like McLouth. The whole town is really there for you,” he said.

Miller couldn’t say specifically when he was going to be deployed to Iraq, but he said it would be at the beginning of next year.