Custodians Deserve Our Respect, Praise and Admiration

In the 1985 movie, The Breakfast Club, one of the high school students in detention asks the custodian, Carl, how one becomes a janitor.

The student then explains his question by saying that another kid in the room is interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.

Carl realizes the question is insincere and that he is being made fun of for his profession.

He responds with an insult I‘m not at liberty to quote in a family communication like this. Carl then impresses the students by telling them he’s aware they’ve turned the wall clock ahead by 20 minutes.

Deserving of Respect

Janitors don’t always get the respect they deserve. They work hard. Very hard. Their jobs are difficult.

Keeping the environment clean and safe is an important responsibility. Regardless of whether their setting is a school, restaurant, retail store, office building or warehouse.

Fortunately, there are a number of people who respect custodians and show it. And there are many janitors who quietly go above and beyond the call of duty to make other peoples’ lives better.

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

Singing and Signing

James has been a custodian at Hickerson Elementary School in Tullahoma, Tennessee for 15 years.

“Mr. James,” as he is known, is deaf and sometimes difficult to understand when he speaks. The kids love him. The kindergartners decided to surprise him recently.

They both sang and signed “Happy Birthday” to him. He let out a joyous yell, then covered his face and tried to hold back tears.

After the scene went viral on social media, teacher Allyssa Hartsfield said, “James is awesome… Today he has definitely put smiles on faces all around the world.”

A Closet of Hope

Every school has a supply closet. But the supply closet at Tucker High School in Tucker, Georgia is different. In fact, it even has a name.

“The Giving Closet” was created by custodian Carolyn Collins several years ago. That was after she discovered there were a number of homeless students with plenty ofneeds .

Needy students at Tucker can now get some of the things they require from this closet. Such as school supplies, clothing and even food. Thanks to Collins and the donations she collects.

“It’s hard for some of the kids to walk up to you and let you know they don’t have (something),” Collins said. “But most of the kids love me and call me ‘Auntie’ or ‘Grand Mama,” so they trust me.”

Devoted Decorator

Jill Faust is a custodian at Indian Meridian Elementary School in Choctaw, Oklahoma. She took the temporary assignment for two weeks. That was 23 years ago.

In addition to keeping the school clean for the kids and faculty, she decorates the hallways.

And that’s for every holiday. Including recent Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities. She fills the walls with decorations she creates, with materials she personally gets. Why?

“Because… I love the kids,” she said. “I have eight grandkids and they’re my heart and soul. And these kids are, too.”

School Savior

Jill is not the only custodian who does much more than keep things clean. Every once in a while, a janitor might even rescue a life.

That’s what occurred recently at Angelo Elementary School in Brockton, Massachusetts. After a driver dropped off a young student across the street instead of in a designated area, the youngster bolted toward the school.

A car moving in the opposite direction was headed straight toward the first-grade boy. Janitor Miguel Rentas, serving as a crossing guard that day, shouted at the driver. His voice was heard and the driver stopped just short of striking the child.

“Often it is said that real heroes don’t wear capes,” said school principal Marcia Andrade Serpa. “(Rentas’s) actions were nothing short of heroic.”

Support Your Local Janitor

Next time you see a custodian, smile and say hi. Maybe give them a compliment.
Show them you appreciate the work they do that many others take for granted.

You just might make their day.


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