Eaton Elementary staffer shares joy

Eaton Elementary School teaching assistant Amanda Green, in a clown mask, stands with her first-grade class.

Eaton Elementary School teaching assistant Amanda Green is doing her best to spread cheer one silly mask at a time.

Green has become popular at school for wearing face masks depicting silly characters in an effort to make students and coworkers smile during tough times. She wears a different mask every day with characters like Shrek, the Grinch, Animal from the Muppets, a dog with its tongue sticking out, a tiger roaring and Kevin McAllister from the “Home Alone” movies.

“I just really wanted to do something to make it not so scary,” she said. “You know, when the kids come in, they’re so young, and they see everybody in masks, and I just thought, ‘You know, why can’t it just be fun?’ Make them smile, make them happy while they have to go through all this mess.”

Green loves the interaction with students. When they see her “Home Alone” mask — where actor Macaulay Culkin’s character Kevin is depicted slapping the sides of his face — kids will make the same face back at her. They make roaring faces back at her when she’s in her tiger mask.

“When you know what all these kids go through at home, and you lay awake thinking about what you could do to make their day better just while they’re with us at school just to make them happy and not sad or anything, buy them an ice cream, or just wear a silly mask for a few minutes to make it a little better,” Green said.

Green has been a teaching assistant at EES for 15 years. She first started volunteering at the school when her son was nervous about attending.

“I would help anybody at school, anybody that would let me cover books or run copies for them, I would do it,” she said. “And I told him I would be in school somewhere, so he wouldn’t have to worry so much. Well, the next year it just so happened a position came open, and they offered it to me, and I just snatched it up because I loved it. Who wouldn’t? I just tell everybody I’ve got the best job in the world, and I really believe that.”

Sara Barrett has always known her sister had a “giving spirit” but didn’t see its full extent until Barrett’s daughter started attending EES.

“I started talking to the teachers and the other parents that have known her,” Barrett said. “That’s when I really realized she makes such an impact on this community because it just spreads. If you do something nice for someone, or they see a good deed being done, that inspires them to go and do something. Just every morning, she’ll send a picture of the mask she’s wearing to me and to our mother, and it just makes my day because I know that is her goal is to make those kids smile.”

This isn’t the first time Green has gone above and beyond. Barrett recalled a time when EES hosted a hat day and Green not only wore a hat on her head but wore baseball caps pinned all over her clothes.

Green has also been known to bake cakes and leave them on teachers’ desks as an anonymous gift. She’s never been one for recognition or the spotlight, Barrett said.

“Everyone was so uncertain about what it was going to look like going back to school, and the teachers were worried and the kids,” Barrett said. “I can’t even imagine having a kindergarten child starting their very first year of school and having to go in all of this. But to walk in the door of the school and see someone that has a silly mask on like that, that’s just as good as dressing up in a costume to cheer somebody up. … This is being an example for others. Especially in such a dark time, and with so much that is still unknown about what the future holds and to be a light in the community, that’s just really powerful.”

EES Principal Ashley Baessler said Green does anything to put smiles on the faces of students and teachers. Green is one of the first faces the students see in the morning, so the silly masks really do get noticed.

“Amanda is one of our sidewalk greeters in the morning that helps take temperature checks, and the kids look to see what mask she’s wearing that day, and she runs several small groups with students on reading and math, and it just excites the kids in this time where things are a little different from what they’re used to, and it just brings a smile to your face. It brightens your day,” Baessler said. “… She’s continued to roll out mask after mask that we never even knew existed, and I personally look forward to seeing what she’s going to bring out that day to make everyone smile.”