Anybody who's called 'Mama' is special. Over the years, thousands of people have called on 'Mama' Surles at Capitol Heights Junior High. "It is a badge of honor, you just know her as 'Mama' Surles because she's a caretaker, she's a nurturer. She's as much a part of Capitol Heights as the stone walls are."
Marcia 'Mama' Surles teaches phys-ed to seventh graders, the same age she's taught since her first day on the job. Now students tell her she taught their parents and in some cases grandparents. With each generation she's formed a bond. 7th grader Sarah Letts says, "the first time I saw her, I thought she's very friendly and she's a really great person. If you ever need somebody to talk to you can go up to her and she'll listen. She's just like my second mom."
Classmate Mark Baldon adds, "almost everyday I get joked on because I'm short. And when you want to talk to her she'll be there for you."
Surles doesn't tolerate teasing and disrespectful behavior. A mock court here tries cases and hands out discipline, so her students can learn right from wrong. Surles says, "I like to see them mature from seventh grade to ninth grade, the way they have changed over the years. When they come back to visit to see how well they have done, or just come to say, 'hi'. I just love the young people I work with."
Surles' 26 year career has been spent entirely at Capitol Heights; but she is contemplating retirement at the end of this school year.