Our custodial service provider met with our cleaning staff for some training this morning in the cafeteria at the Boiling Springs High School 9th Grade Campus. After a Chick-fil-A breakfast and he and Gracin Watson, a rising senior at Chesnee High who is an awesome young lady spoke, it was my privilege to address the group.
If you have walked the halls of our schools and buildings, you know our crowd does a super job; the floors shine and the buildings are clean. They take pride in their work. You will also note that they exude a positive attitude; they are friendly with teachers and staff and realize they are role models for our children.
I relayed the story of how I remember the custodian at my school in West Virginia when I was in first grade, 50 years ago. While the teacher was all business (she walked around slapping a ruler in her hand), and I only remember the principal coming into our room once when one of my classmates kept falling asleep, it was the custodian who anytime did some type of task in there would, just before he left, turn to the class and say, "See you later, alligator," to which we all happily replied, "After while, crocodile!" I do not know what the teacher thought of it, but to a group of 6 year olds, he was a special man we appreciated. I think he cared about us.
There are many custodians I have known in my employment who have made a difference: B.B. Linn and I were the only males at East Dale Elementary; if a teacher needed a file cabinet moved, he and I did it. Harold Sims ate his lunch everyday with John, a student with Tourrette's Syndrome at East Park School. Frank Jones, the custodian at Aynor Elementary and a bivocational pastor, would often encourage the children by saying, "Go for the gold!" Michael Hickman and I went on the gym roof at Conway Middle to see what we could do as Hurricane Hugo blew the vents away; we quickly discovered it was not a good idea to be on that roof. People at the District Office worry about what we will do when David Griffin retires; he always smiles and will do anything he can to make our jobs easier.
It takes us all to educate these children, and sometimes it is the unsung among us who make the biggest difference.