Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | 2:13 p.m.
When the Clark County School District named an elementary school after him, Neil C. Twitchell and his wife, Wanda, took it as a tremendous honor, but also as a responsibility to stay involved.
For the 29-year veteran of the Clark County School District, some days that means coming to Twitchell Elementary to support the school children in their talent shows. Other days, it means coming to read to them.
This morning, it means treating the faculty to a build-your-own-omelette bar that he happily prepares for teachers and staff on one condition — anyone who wants to eat has to flip their own omelette.
Don't bother looking for a spatula, however. Instead, Neil Twitchell, who was a principal at four schools, teaches each teacher how to do it the old-fashioned way — the way he learned when he was a teen working as a fry cook at a diner near Zion National Park.
"It's just a quick flip of the wrist, then you bring it right back," he says as he effortlessly sends an omelette flipping through the air and then catches it dead center in the frying pan.
No one is denied the experience — not even the reporter who shares a last name but is meeting him for the first time. And when the omelette lands on the frying pan handle , he chuckles and, with a quick flip of the wrist, the eggs are back in their place.
For the Twitchells, having an elementary school bear their name was more than they ever could have imagined.
"It's a wonderful honor; a beautiful honor," Wanda Twitchell said.
"It's difficult to describe," Neil Twitchell added. "It's not something we ever expected, but it is a tremendous honor."
Since the school opened its doors, the Twitchells said they have tried to make it a part of their family. They frequently bring their children and grandchildren to visit the school and do musical performances. The omelette cookout is a holiday family tradition the Twitchells have brought to the school.
After years of keeping busy with church assignments and caring for family members, the couple said they are happy to have more time to devote to the school.
"It gets us closer to the kids again," Neil Twitchell said. "We've spent a lot of years when we couldn't participate in the schools."
Principal Susan Smith said the way the Twitchells have shared themselves and their family with the school has lent invaluable support to the teachers and students.
"You couldn't find two more genuine people," she said. "They're very sweet."
After breakfast, the couple made a quick stop in Julie Jones' second grade class to read to students. The Twitchells had read to a large group of school children during a reading event a few weeks before, and Jones' students wrote them letters to invite them to read to just their class.
"(The students) think they own the school," Jones said as the Twitchells read. "They're like mini superstars."
In addition to all that they do for teachers, Jones said, the couple are positive role models for the students.
"They're like adoptive grandparents," she said. "It's an interesting aspect, because the kids have someone that they can look up to."
Jeremy Twitchell can be reached at 990-8928 or [email protected].