There’s playfulness and a spirit of kindness that fills the halls at Mark Twain Middle School. From the custodial staff to the students, teachers and administrators everyone seems to share a certain warmth and enthusiasm.
“It’s a welcoming and friendly place for adolescents to grow,” said SFSD Superintendent Andy Bellando. “The staff really go out of their way to get to know the students and the small class sizes help promote strong connections.”
Bellando explained that entering middle school can create anxiety for families because it represents a major life transition.
“At Mark Twain, parents and students quickly discover that the wonderful teachers and staff provide an incredible and supportive environment for such an important time in the life of child.”
This month, science teacher Daniel Jamsa, who was recognized earlier this year by Silver Falls School District as Middle School Teacher of the Year, led the school in a fun April Fools prank. The activity involved gathering students outside to represent their school on a Google Earth satellite fly-over competition. According to the very official looking document created by Jamsa, schools were
to go outside and create something that showed their pride. NASA would let groups know when the satellite was flying over. At the appropriate time, students lined up by AG to spell out Silverton OR. When released back to their classes, the joke was announced to the school. You can watch a video of the prank in action here.
“He’s probably the most creative science teacher I’ve ever met,” said Mark Twain Principal Nancy Griffith who explained that the April Fools activity created a strong sense of school pride.
In terms of kindness, there is also a special bond that exists between mainstream and special needs students at Mark Twain.
“Our special education students spend part of their learning time in regular education classrooms and it’s been amazing to see how the mainstream students look out for them. They are very protective,” said Griffith.
Griffith told a story about a special needs student who received extra support from peers at a recent school dance.
“Every time I checked on him, he was being visited by a different student. His classmates were genuinely making sure he wasn’t alone and that he was having a good time. It made me proud,” said Griffith.
Environmental Services employee Mike Craig greets students and visitors alike with a smile.
“I enjoy the staff, students and being able to do my job everyday,” said Craig.