Juli Isola, school librarian at Bernice Ayer Middle School, with a student, left. Dr. Mariah Mayer, social science teacher at Bernice Ayer Middle School, with students, right. Photo provided by Amanda Soboleski

Thankful Thursday tradition: building BAMS connection with families


By Amelia Windal

At Bernice Ayers Middle School, community is key.

Teachers and staff members realized that families were struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so they came up with a way they could communicate with families, make a positive impact, and strengthen their connection with the San Clemente community before Thanksgiving break in 2021.

In 2022, the staff wanted to continue the tradition, said Vice Principal Amanda Soboleski. Together, the staff set a goal of making five phone calls each. Staff members each chose five students they felt deserved the recognition, and called the students’ homes, taking the time to share what makes each child special — their attitude, effort, kindness, following school rules academic achievement or growth. The goal was to make 200 calls, but they exceeded the goal by making 270 calls in one day. Positive phone calls home came from teachers, administrators, counselors, the school librarian, and support staff.

“One mother was shocked and started crying,” said social studies and Peer Assistance and Leadership teacher Dr. Mariah Mayer. “She said no one has ever called home to say something positive. Another parent loved what I shared about his son and asked me to call his wife as well, because she could really use some encouragement today.”

Some families received multiple calls, and it made a huge impact on them, Soboleski said. The school did not want language to be a barrier, so there was a system in place to call each parent in the language best suited for them, she added.

The impact was felt by both parents and staff members, Soboleski stated, adding that Thankful Thursday allowed the staff to focus on positives and gave them great pride and joy.

“We have a great community, we have a supportive community and our kids are amazing,” Soboleski said. “Many parents expressed that they needed to hear something positive and that the call came at the perfect moment.”

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