Steve Bell

Philomath Middle School principal Steve Bell, right, talks during an assembly in his honor in 2016 for receiving the middle school principal of the year award. At left is his mentor, Larry Sleeman.

ANDY CRIPE, MID-VALLEY MEDIA

The middle-school years can be very interesting from both a parent and student point of view. I've got a little bit of experience with this through my son and I can recall the growing pains myself back in the day while a junior high student in Mesa, Arizona.

While interviewing Philomath Middle School principal Steve Bell this afternoon, I asked him about his years on the job and why he enjoys it.

"It's got that great mix of kids seeking independence yet not really ready, and then older kids that are starting to become a little more independent, starting to figure it out, how to be a little more responsible, have student activities but not a super late night," Bell said.

Personally, I think the middle-school years are extremely important in terms of how a person will approach life with adulthood on the horizon. Which path will they take? Bell sees those years as an opportunity to build confidence.

"It's a spot where kids are not sure of themselves and not sure of people in their lives many times," Bell said. "We try to provide that place where they know they'll consistently be respected and appreciated and cared for, which is not the typical middle-school stereotype. We try to really take away the fears of growing up and give them positives."

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