In the community

For Nyssa’s Mardock, the focus is on preparing students for the future

NYSSA – A conversation with Nyssa’s Amy Mardock reveals several themes fast.

First, she doesn’t like the limelight.

“I’m not that person. I like a ‘hey great job’ then walk away kind of girl,” said Mardock.

Second, she loves her family and believes her work is rewarding and makes a difference.

Mardock was recently thrust into the community spotlight when she was named 2024 Citizen of the Year by the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture.

Mardock was honored at the chamber’s banquet April 27.

Mardock works as a transition specialist for the Malheur Education Service District. Her job is to help students who face medical or learning challenges continue on from high school to either college or a career.

Barriers for students can include hurdles such as dyslexia, hearing, vision and learning obstacles or health difficulties, she said.

“I help them take their barriers and turn them into bridges,” said Mardock.

Mardock said she was proud of the Nyssa honor. She said her success, though, is based largely on the support of her family, including her four children.

A native of Rockaway Beach on the coast, Mardock said her husband and children inspire her every day.

“I’m blessed. They are always out there to help out. They just keep pushing forward,” said Mardock.

Yet Mardock also plays a key role in the lives of more than 50 students as a transition specialist.

Mardock said she views her work as a commitment for the community.

 “I feel like the kids are our future and the more I invest in them the better our future becomes,” said Mardock.

Mardock said one of the most significant moments in her work career happened when she was hired by the ESD in October 2022.

“It was a defining moment for me,” said Mardock.

Mardock said she never viewed herself as “being able to have an important job like that.”

“When I applied for the job, I was like, can I do this job? Am I good enough?” she said.

Jen Susuki, Malheur ESD student wellness coordinator, said Mardock was a good addition.

“She’s a fireball. She has so much energy and it is all directed to helping kids,” said Susuki.

Mardock said she loves her job.

“I am basically mom to a bunch of kids. I feel I am working my dream job,” said Mardock.
Mardock, who moved to Nyssa from Portland in 1999, said she’s encountered several key moments in her life, including grappling with the diagnosis of one of her sons with Type 1 diabetes when he was 9.

“That was a huge family shift,” Mardock said.

She said she was a stay-at-home mom when her son received his diagnosis but went back to work for the Nyssa School District to help pay for her son’s care.

“We couldn’t afford the medicine and all the equipment and stuff. We needed the extra insurance,” she said.

Her son’s challenges with diabetes placed Mardock in a unique position as she went to work for the ESD. She understood the challenges some students face with medical needs, especially as they prepare to leave high school and enter college or the workforce.

She works one-on-one with students. That work can begin as early as a student’s freshman year in high school.

Her ability to listen is another key, she said.

“If you stop and listen for a little while you will hear the real story. When I am working with my kids a lot of times the question I ask is what do you love most? So, when they tell me, if I can turn that into a job, then we’ve just won,” said Mardock.

Once that happens, she said, the students are “thrilled and now they have a dream.”

“So, the first question is what do you want to do after high school?” said Mardock.

That future can include finding the right college or job for the student. The work involves research and feedback from the student as Mardock helps them hone a post-graduation path.

If they have a medical disability, but want to go to college, Mardock helps them find universities that have a medical facility on the campus.

Then Mardock and the student contact the school for more information.

“I walk them through these steps and we get on the phone, both of us sitting together, and it is my job to engage and ask the right questions,” she said.

Mardock said success in the transition program is measured in different ways.

“Sometimes it is the big things like I have a student in college finishing up his second year. Sometimes the success is he or she found a job and they like what they do,” she said.

Mardock said she holds a regular work schedule – from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – but she is often contacted by her students on the weekends as they seek advice and help. Her commitment to her students doesn’t leave a lot of extra time, she said.

Mardock works with high school students at Adrian, Huntington, Ontario and at Four Rivers Community School.

She said each student is a personal investment.

“I have 24 graduation gifts I’m handing out this year,” she said.

When she is free she likes to be with her two boys and two girls.

“I like to go out with my kids, we call them mini dates. The girls and I will go to Dutch (Dutch Bros) or I will hang out with my boys. They like to go driving,” she said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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