Late Glen Ellyn teacher remembered for generosity, road trips
As a kid growing up in Wheaton, Michael Miele and his family would spend summers on the road, traveling to every state in the continental U.S.
Those family vacations inspired a lifelong love of national parks and historic places. And when he became a social studies teacher, Miele wanted to share the same learning experiences from his idyllic childhood with his students at Hadley Junior High in Glen Ellyn.
So Miele invited fellow educators and teens on trips of a lifetime in his motor home during summers and spring breaks in the 1980s. He charged them a small fee to cover meals.
But when his brother Brock sorted Michael's belongings after he died at 70 last week in his Glen Ellyn home, his younger sibling found envelopes of still-uncashed checks from the parents of his former students.
"He was extremely generous," Brock said.
Michael Miele died from an apparent heart attack Aug. 8. His services are set for Friday.
His family has received messages of condolences from Miele's old students who fondly remembered their trips to amusement parks and campgrounds.
"For weeks on the road, you can see a lot, and you can see it in detail, and I think he enjoyed that," Brock Miele said.
Miele left a lasting impression on students even though he never intended to become a teacher.
He went to Wheaton Central High School before transferring to Glenbard West School after his family moved to Glen Ellyn. He earned a master's degree in advertising from the University of Illinois.
After he couldn't find a job in the profession, Miele took a substitute teaching gig in the early 1970s. That turned into a full-time position at Hadley Junior High. He spent his entire career at the school, teaching social studies for more than 30 years until he retired.
"He was real big into teaching kids how to learn and how to look at things differently and analyze things differently," Brock Miele said.
Outside the classroom, Miele coached soccer at Hadley and Glenbard West. He was instrumental in starting a girls softball team through the Glen Ellyn Park District. And he served as the adviser to Hadley's student council and chess club, taking players to tournaments across the country.
"He always had a lot of energy, and he never stopped going," his brother said.
For an annual student-faculty basketball game, Miele, known for his dry sense of humor, showed up as Superman -- "long before comic book heroes became a cool subject for Hollywood filmmakers," recalled Frank Tomaszkiewicz, a current Hadley teacher.
"Most former Hadley students will remember Mr. Miele as part of a special group of teachers who made the school day at Hadley an experience not to be missed," Tomaszkiewicz said in an email.
His memorial visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Leonard Memorial Funeral Home at 565 Duane St., Glen Ellyn.
Burial will be private. Instead of flowers, donations to an animal rescue organization are appreciated.