Best Buddies has had a busy month! Read below to get updates on the following: Bowling, Friendship Rock Garden “Be the Rock” Inspiration Cards, Disability Awareness, and Meet our Leadership Team. On Saturday, Best Buddies members and their families went bowling and played arcade games. There was lots of laughter, encouragement and celebrating!
They’ve also been working hard on their Friendship Rock Garden that is now in front of the school to spread the message of kindness, friendship and inclusion. Thank you to the many students, staff and community members who contributed to this project by painting a rock and by donating the supplies to make this happen. We appreciate you so much and are proud to be part of such a caring and supportive community! Rocks will be added to this garden each year to show that when we work together, we’re capable of achieving great things!
The rocks will stay in our garden to serve as a reminder that kindness, friendship and inclusion matter and make a huge impact on our community. We’ve also created cards to keep the inspiration going. If you find a “Be the Rock” inspiration card, pass it along to someone else or keep it for yourself if you relate to the message.
Best Buddies also created a disability awareness poster to remind people that it’s important to get to know others to be able to see all of the wonderful qualities they possess. It can be easy to look at someone and make assumptions about their lives but if we dismiss someone based on what we think we know about them, we could be missing the opportunity to make new friends and learn something new from them. Members decorated puzzle pieces to represent the different positive traits that we possess (courageous, talented, kind, humbling, brave, honest and many more).
In the coming weeks, Best Buddies will be working on their Inclusion Pledge Campaign. Stay tuned for more updates on this!
They wouldn’t be able to do this amazing work without the dedication of their advisors and student leadership team:
Meet the Nissitissit Middle School
Best Buddies Leadership Team!
From left to right: Mrs. Girard, Ms. Frey, Ms. Schumaker, Ms. Santiago, Ms. Djerbaka, Mrs. Norftill
Ms. Santiago is our school Social Worker. She provides individual counseling and individual/group social skills lessons to students in grades 5-8. She helps students to improve emotional regulation skills, communication skills and problem-solving skills. She visits classrooms regularly and loves interacting with students in a variety of school settings. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her dogs, cleaning & organizing, and spending time in nature. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is our ice skating event (and all the other fun family events) where families try something new, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company!
Mrs. Norftill is the ACHIEVE Program teacher at our school. She provides engaging, interactive lessons that teach life skills to students in grades 5-8 the abilities they need to succeed in society. She manages the education of the students in her program by helping them to learn how to handle everyday tasks that will help them to gain independence and move forward in life. She works primarily one-on-one or in small groups to assist students with unique challenges develop basic life skills, such as cooking, hygiene, and money skills. She thoroughly enjoys interacting with her students in a variety of ways, and always feels rewarded by these endearing and exceptional exchanges. When she is not at school, she enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her family and her dogs. Her favorite Best Buddies memory took place at one of the after school meetings. Elizabeth recognized that another member was having a difficult time engaging with her peers so she went over to talk with her. Elizabeth took the time to appropriately engage her in conversation, with her sweet and endearing ways, and within a few minutes, Elizabeth had her smiling and talking. It really touched Mrs. Norftill’s heart to see how happy they were to spend time with each other. In a short period of time, they both began to develop a meaningful friendship. Through this kind gesture, Elizabeth exhibited the true meaning of being a Best Buddy.
Mrs. Girard has been a paraprofessional at Nissitissit for nine years. She is part of the Language Based Program in fifth grade and currently works on the blue team. Before that, she worked in preschool and kindergarten and has been a part of the district for eleven years.She enjoys providing extra support to the students in various classrooms including Unified Arts. In her spare time she enjoys music and spending time with her family: her husband Donnie, her son Justin (who is a senior at Fitchburg State University) and her daughter Cassandra (who is a freshman at Franklin Pierce University). Her favorite Best Buddies memory is when the Pepperell Fire Department and our resource officer Officer Francis came for a visit. Two of our 5th grade members, Ben and Cameron climbed into the back of the cruiser, made themselves comfortable and were calling out to everyone to come over to them and they were laughing and having so much fun. That had everyone else laughing and joining in on their fun.
Ms. Djerbaka is the 8th grade +STEPS teacher at NMS. +STEPS represents “positive social thinking and executive planning supports.” Ms. D supports her 8th grade students within the general classroom setting for all core academic classes. Ms. D teaches study skills and academic support class. She also teachers social skills, which is her favorite subject to teach! Ms. D has worked at NMS for 4 years now, and the middle school population is definitely her passion. This will be her first year helping out with the Best Buddies program so she is very excited for this opportunity to work with all of the wonderful student leaders in this club!
Ms. Frey is a 5th and 6th grade +STEPS teacher. She works with students in small group ELA, reading, academic and social skills classes as well as in their general education classes. Ms. Frey has been at NMS for the last six years and loves it! Before NMS she worked at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation and Lighthouse School. When not in school you can find her camping, hiking, kayaking or cooking up elaborate meals for her family. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is when the Best Buddies group went ice skating. Ms. Frey, Nick, Chris and Lucy made a chain of ice skaters… believe it or not it didn’t work out as planned!
Ms. Schumaker is our 5th grade special education teacher. She works in the +STEPS program. She worked with students in the general education classroom as well as provides a small group ELA, reading and social skills class. When she is not in school she enjoys going to the gym and participating in Zumba, hanging out with friends, family and watching the Patriots game. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is when some of the buddies were able to attend the Special Olympics to cheer on the Nissitissit Middle School athletes.
Cody is an 8th grader and is our Buddy Director. This is Cody’s third year in Best Buddies. He joined Best Buddies to meet new friends. His favorite Best Buddies memory is playing capture the football. Cody is a hockey player and his team won the 2019 BHL Championship!
Sadie is an 8th grader and is our Assistant Advisor. This is Sadie’s first year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies to see what it was like and she is enjoying herself so much! Her favorite Best Buddies memory so far is visiting the Discovery Museum. Sadie likes gymnastics and likes to write.
Public Relations Officer
Elizabeth is a 7th grader and is our Public Relations Officer. This is Elizabeth’s third year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies because she was in the Sidekicks program in elementary school so she thought Best Buddies would be fun. She also wanted to make new friends and hang out with other kids despite their differences. One of her favorite Best Buddies memories is the Special Olympics. Its because she got to spend the day doing fun activities with friends and everyone was so happy and excited. It was great! Elizabeth has many hobbies. She is the co-president of the Student Council and she is in chorus. She is also a competitive baton twirler and she spends most of her free time reading, practicing baton and playing with her puppy!
Ryan is a 7th grader and is our Secretary. This is Ryan’s third year in Best Buddies. He joined Best Buddies because he loves to make new friends. Out of all of the amazing Best Buddies memories, his favorite is helping at the Special Olympics. Besides Best Buddies, Ryan loves Jiu Jitzsu and Scouts.
Elisea is a 6th grader and is one of our Kindness Co-Chairs. This is Elisea’s second year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies because its a fun experience and because it helps to make more relationships with people. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is apple-picking. She likes to read, play softball and basketball and is involved in gymnastics.
Kate is a 6th grader and is one of our Kindness Co-Chairs. This is Kate’s second year in Best Buddies. She joined because she loves the feeling of helping kids her age who have different abilities and she also wanted to make new friends. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is seeing Conor running the race at Special Olympics. Kate plays soccer and basketball. She also likes football. She enjoys playing outside in the woods with her friends and playing with legos and other hands-on projects.
Brian is a 7th grader and is on our Kindness Committee. This is Brian’s third year in Best Buddies. He joined Best Buddies because everyone is kind and nice and he saw people helping out. His favorite Best Buddies memory is going to the trampoline park and playing dodgeball. Brian likes to play basketball and football.
Sophia is a 6th grader and is on our Kindness Committee. This is Sophia’s second year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies to make new friends and get close to others that she wouldn’t normally meet. Her favorite memory from Best Buddies is last year when we had a dance party in the gym. Sophia is a dancer- she does ballet, tap, jazz, Irish step, hard shoe and modern. She also plays the piano.
Hannah is a 6th grader and is on our Kindness Committee. This is Hannah’s second year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies because she loves making new friends and she also thought it sounded cool. She was in Sidekicks in fourth grade and loved that so she wanted to try the middle school version of that which is Best Buddies. Her favorite Best Buddies memory is when everyone got to decorate the lobby for the people going to the Special Olympics. Hannah’s hobbies are arts and crafts, reading, soccer, flute, basketball and science.
Ciara is a 6th grader and is on our Kindness Committee. This is Ciara’s first year in Best Buddies. She joined Best Buddies because she thought it would be fun…and she was right! Ciara’s favorite Best Buddies memory is sitting with friends. She’s looking forward to our family events. Ciara likes to play with her cousins and nephews.
It’s never too late to join Best Buddies! If you’d like to join: please speak to Ms. Santiago, Mrs. Norftill, Ms. Girard, Ms. Djerbaka, Ms. Frey or Ms. Schumaker.