As a Staff Sargeant for the U.S. National Guard, Ryan Miller has two jobs: perform missions for his unit — sometimes for weeks at a time — and teach seventh- and eighth-grade science at Eastmont Middle School.
Thanks to the support of Stacy Kurtzhals, former principal of Eastmont, Miller’s transition between deployment and working in the classroom is as seamless as it can be. Kurtzhals makes sure Miller has the plans he needs, that his students have a substitute if necessary, and he can trust his classroom is in good hands while he is away.
Miller nominated Kurtzhals, who is now a Program Administrator in the Special Education Department, to receive the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program with the Department of Defense because of her assistance. “She was very aware and helpful,” Miller said, referring to recent deployments. “She is an amazing person to work with and always helping her team to be the best.”
The ESGR Patriot Award is given in recognition to supervisors who provide support through a wide-range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off, granting leaves of absence and caring for families, according to the ESGR website, www.esgr.mil.
Miller works as a dental assistant for the Utah Air National Guard. Usually, his duties include monitoring the teeth of 1,400 servicemen and women to help them receive the care they need to be able to serve where they are needed at a moment’s notice. He is deployed on international service missions where he works to build communication with various nations and help those who don’t have regular access to dentists.
Most recently, Miller spent two weeks in Morocco on an assignment that happened to fall during the school year. Kurtzhals stepped up to help Miller fulfill his responsibilities at both of his jobs.
“The support you give is essential to what our mission is,” Lt. April Paulsen told Kurtzhals during the presentation of Kurtzhals’ award. “(Ryan Miller) is not only supporting other countries, but here at the home state. He couldn’t do this without your support.”