After today, Grant Elementary School will be one staff member short.
Calvin Miles, home/school communicator at the school, has been called to duty and will head to Fort Leonard Wood for military police training Sunday. After that, he’ll be deployed to Germany, but Miles doesn’t know where he’ll end up or how long he’ll be gone.
Miles, 46, serves in National Guard Detachment 2/1137th Military Police based in Fulton. He said the staff in his unit are heading abroad to allow others to come home.
“I’m ready to do this and give those other guys a break,” he said.
Numerous other Missouri National Guard units were mobilized on Monday, including four units from Jefferson City, as well as personnel based in Hallsville, Columbia and others from Miles’ unit.
Teachers, staff, students and parents of Grant Elementary are letting Miles know he will be sorely missed.
There’s been a huge outpouring of support for him since he notified the school yesterday, Miles said.
“Parents, teachers, families — from the top down it’s been a tear-jerker,” Miles said.
They’ve been bringing him candy, cookies, cakes, pies, cards and letters, he said.
Miles will leave his wife and children behind, and preparing them won’t be easy, he said.
“I’m letting them know I’ll find a way to stay in touch,” he said.
The family plans to get in touch with a support group in Columbia for friends and family of those on duty away from home.
As home/school communicator, Miles goes out of his way to make sure that parents are able to sign important papers and that families have transportation to after-school events, said Annie Cardetti, who teaches kindergarten at Grant.
In addition to his job as home/school communicator, shortly after Miles came to Grant he took over as coordinator of a safety patrol program run by students. The program helps the staff of the school find problems on the school grounds or on school buses, said student leaders in the program.
Miles also coaches the school’s basketball team, said Lurie Krumm, a first-grade teacher at Grant.
“The empty spot here is going to be really huge,” said Gail Underwood, a second-grade teacher at the school whose daughter is an Air Force lieutenant stationed in Florida.
He has touched everyone at Grant deeply, she said.
“If someone has a problem and can’t figure out what to do, you can go to Mr. Miles and he can help you,” said Spenser Crum, a fourth-grade student at Grant.
One parent, Julie Davis, took a small medallion engraved with Ulysses S. Grant’s name and profile to all the classrooms for the children to rub and send a memory or thought with. Miles will be able to carry the medallion in his pocket while gone.
It’s something to connect the children with Miles, Davis said.
Miles said that knowing people back home are behind him would help him stay strong while he is overseas.
“We love Calvin,” said Bonnie Caldwell, secretary at Grant. “We don’t want to see him go.”