By Miriam Lee and Rylie Young
The Charter News
“We’re a giant jigsaw puzzle, with so many different pieces and I felt like Mark was a piece of the puzzle that was kind of connecting all of us.”– Carla Calhoun
A month ago, ACA’s beloved counselor, Mark Silverman, passed away. Mark had been out on medical leave for about a month before he died; he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It all happened so quickly, most of us had no idea anything was wrong. Although Mr. Silverman had only started working at this school in September, he was highly involved and it felt like he had been here for years.
He stayed true to his motto, be “kinder than necessary” and most students say they felt comfortable talking to the counselor.
“There’s a bit of a stigma when you’re talking about going to a counselor, ‘Oh I don’t need to talk to anybody and I’m fine there’s nothing wrong with me’. I feel like he took that stigma out of it a little bit here at ACA because we hadn’t had a counselor that visited classrooms, and greeted kids at the door and in the hallways before. People knew him and he was like ‘come and talk to me about anything. It’s fine it doesn’t matter what it’s about and it’s natural and normal to need to talk to a counselor’,” says Mary Coleman.
ACA wasn’t the only school that admired and enjoyed Mark Silverman. On December 17th, the school he worked at for 27 years, West Linn Primary, had a memorial. Several ACA admin and students attended. Sources say it was a packed and cheerful event, there were many speakers of all ages who shared their loving memories of Silverman.
“His daughter spoke of his ‘dad magic.’ All of us here at Willamette got to experience that ‘Mark magic’ in a different way,” said co-worker of Silverman, Kelly Oliver.
It is apparent that Mr. Silverman had a positive impact everywhere he went, even in the short time he worked at ACA, we still felt that “Mark magic” Oliver spoke of. Students at ACA referred to him as “rare like a unicorn,” which can speak for itself.
The ACA admin knew that losing a counselor would be tough, during academic recovery and the first two days we came back from winter break they had two grief counselors in the library. In the time without a counselor, the staff was told to be alert and listen if students needed someone to talk to. After a week, a new counselor was hired named Maryann Remsburg.
Remsburg said, “It’s always really hard coming in after someone has passed away of course. That’s a really tough situation for everybody. So coming in on a sad situation is hard but I’m glad I’m here and get to know you guys and support kids who need it.”
Of course with a loss like this, the community is dealing with extensive grief which should not be dealt with alone. The ACA admin has been extremely supportive throughout the grieving process, making themselves known as a resource to students and families as well.
“Mark had a positive impact on all of us the short time he was here, and we all feel lost, and if you are a student who is especially having a hard time processing or dealing with the loss, reach out to your ES, to your parent or grownup; don’t struggle alone. We’re here for you and don’t exactly know how to navigate a loss either, but we can find resources,” says Carla Calhoun.
During the first week back from winter break students created a poster in memory of Mr. Silverman, sharing kind tributes and notes left to him and his family. The class Looking for Heroes In Literature also expressed their gratitude towards Silverman with poems that can be found displayed near the front entrance of ACA. A couple of journalism students have done tributes to Mr. Silverman as well.
It is clear that Mark Silverman is and will be deeply missed by the people here at ACA. If you are someone you know is struggling with grieving the loss, remember that we are all in this together and you can reach out to the new counselor, or any other ACA admin.
“I’m not him but I’m here for you guys.”– Counselor, Maryann Remsburg.
Contributions can be made in Mark’s name to:
Portland Audubon Society
Dougy Center, The Center for Grieving Children and Families
Mark Memories can be sent to:
Answer this quick poll/survey to make a tribute to Mark Silverman here
Brainerd, Diana. Personal Interview. January 14th, 2019.
Bloemer, Seanna. Personal Interview. December 16th, 2018.
Calhoun, Carla. Personal Interview. January 17th, 2019.
Coleman, Mary. Personal Interview. January 16th, 2019.
Lute, Erika. Personal Interview. January 16th, 2019.
Minor, Patrick. Online Interview. January 23rd, 2019.
Oliver, Kelly. Online Interview. January 24th, 2019
Remsburg, Maryann. Personal Interview. January 16th, 2019.
Willis, Aaron. Online Interview. January 22nd, 2019.