Despite the ongoing pandemic, a string of good news is coming out of the Marshall School District.

A Dec. 1 regular meeting of the school board reported on the findings of recent “30-day interviews” with new employees, with favorable feedback coming from staff members at each of the district’s four buildings. High School Principal Eugene Syvrud, who himself was just hired by the district in August, reported that his new staff members are proud to be Cardinals, with the entire group becoming very “tight knit.”

“I can’t tell you what it is, but there really is just something special about Marshall,” Syvrud said. “And (the staff members) all feel it.”

Syvrud also said that 184 of his students had an attendance rate above 95% in the first quarter of the school year, with 50 of those students maintaining perfect attendance, a feat that Syvrud said was “impressive” due to virtual learning conditions.

“I looked forward to tonight, because tonight was going to be about celebrations,” school board President Debbie Frigo said. “So much of the discussion for the last six months has been about how we’re going to deal with COVID and you’re proving to us that we can do it.”

Middle School Principal Paul Herrick said that he doesn’t have a lot of new staff members in his building, with two hires splitting time with the high school, but he said that he has heard good ideas from them. Elementary School Principal Kathy Kennon reported that her new staff members are enjoying the amount of collaboration that happens at the school and that they love working in Marshall.

“We really want teachers to know that we value what they do and we care about them as people,” Kennon said. “To hear that they’re feeling that was probably the biggest compliment that we could have gotten.”

Early Learning Center Principal Rich Peters said that his building has welcomed 10 new staff members to fill the void left by retirements and staff moving to other buildings. Each of the new hires said that their experience at Marshall so far has matched exactly what was promised by the district.

“One of my favorite quotes that someone said is, ‘Overall, this is a 180 from my other district — I feel so supported here,’” Peters said.

Peters also mentioned that many of the staff members found the district to be supportive, honest and transparent, featuring a “team mentality.”

“I’ve been on the board for now five plus years and what is being said in these 30-day interviews has not always been said within this district,” Frigo said. “I think that the leadership team that (District Administrator) Dr. (Dan) Grady has formed has brought this to Marshall. I think it’s a testament to Dr. Grady and his leadership but it’s also a testament to you working well together.”

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