This is Damon Orrell’s first year at Ashland Middle School but he is already having a big impact for students as an Educational Assistant in Erika Williford’s Resource classroom. “I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and I see a lot of myself in the kids I work with here. It helps me relate to their struggles, and I feel like I have strategies and mechanisms for helping them in the classroom. Having dealt with my own issues as a kid, I definitely want to be an advocate for kids who struggle at school.” In addition to working with 6th grade students in both Erika’s class and other classrooms, Damon supervises the Student Lounge at lunchtime and coaches the wrestling team.

Born and raised in the Seattle area, Damon first came to the Rogue Valley in 1996. During the next 10 years, he worked with a web design start-up and met his future wife, Fredricka, before moving back to Seattle. When their son, Noah—who is currently a 6th grader at AMS—was 4, they moved back to the Rogue Valley. “I love it here,” says Damon. “I did the corporate thing for 20 years, and I didn’t realize how much I was missing. The kids energy just radiates off them and I just soak it up and feed off their energy. I love watching them grow from shy kids at the beginning of 6th grade into teenagers by the spring. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of social-emotional growth as well as intellectual growth during my time here.”

In addition to making art and cooking, Damon is a huge Dungeons & Dragons fan, having played since he was a teenager. He has remained close with the friends he made during that time period and now shares his gaming passion with his son, Noah.  We’re so glad Damon made his way back to Ashland and AMS!