This week is American Education Week, with each day dedicated to sub groups that support students on a daily basis. Today we celebrate Education Support Professionals (ESPs), and I would like to celebrate one ESP in particular.
For the purpose of this piece, the person I am talking about is named Fred. I chose Fred intentionally, based on the book The Fred Factor which focuses on the story of a mail carrier who loves his job, cares about those he works with & goes the extra mile to support all he comes into contact with. My Fred can be found doing many things around the school and grounds to ensure that staff and students are in a safe, clean and well maintained environment. These are the things Fred is here to do, and he is always willing to go the extra mile. I appreciate that he enjoys his profession and engages in ways to support students and staff beyond the duties in his contract.
Fred is special, he is our custodian, artist in residence and magician.
Fred paints wonderful seasonal murals that welcome students, staff & parents into the school. They make the office area feel welcoming and are always a topic of conversation. Fred doesn’t HAVE to do this, but he does, because he recognizes the joy it brings to those who view his work. Fred doesn’t stop there! He paints thematic scenes on grade level hallway windows to add beauty throughout the school. The scenes he pants generally deal with the content the grade level is working on. Fred finds ways to make a connection to students’ content through his art.
Fred isn’t only a WONDERFUL custodian, who doesn’t make judgements, when I have half a bottle of glitter spread through the classroom, or a decaying pumpkin taking up residence on a book case for students to observe.
Fred is also a man full of magic, wonder & excitement.
Fred goes by many names in our school, when you ask the students, they will tell you his name is Magic Man or Funny Guy. I will never forget the first time I saw Fred perform magic for the students during lunch. The cafeteria was abuzz with laughter, shock and awe as Fred performed magic tricks for the students. Imagine 127 kindergarteners enthralled by all that one man could do.
There is never a moment when Fred is not interacting with students, checking to make sure they are okay, and teaching them something new.
Recently, my students were collecting applesauce caps (think squeezy applesauce) because the Magic Man showed them how to play a game with them. Fred isn’t obligated to do the aforementioned things, but he does, and does them with such a genuine heart, the impact on students is remarkable. Student are excited to go to the cafeteria to see what the Magic Man has in store. Their faces light up as he mimes to them in a hallway. The Magic Man is a staple!
Fred impacts students daily, and without him knowing it he impacts the staff as well. Fred’s attitude is infectious, the genuine passion & care he puts into his work is appreciated.
After thanking Fred for cleaning up a mess left after a busy day in Kindergarten, he told me, “I do my job well, so you can do yours well, & the students can learn in a safe, clean place.”
No truer words have been spoken, because of who Fred is and what he does, I can do what I need to do.
For that, Fred, know you have all of my rESPect!
I hope as educators we realize the importance ESPs play in the lives of our students & if we are transparent, our lives as well. I would love to hear your anecdotes about your “Fred”. Possibly take it a step further & share it with that person! What do you appreciate about the ESPs in your setting?