Here’s a little true tale I’ll call The custodian and the ditcher.
Walking back to class during my planning period I just spied a student being read the riot act… by the school’s custodian. It was an African American man speaking to an African American teen telling him about how “he needed to get to class, grab onto this chance for school” while giving him a heads up as to how there are just a whole “mess of people that want to simply turn kids like him into little gang bangers that’ll end up doin’ time — cause there’s a whole lot of folks that make good money off of that in this country, both the gangs and the government.”
I had to smile. I mean how often is it that we devalue what it is that our “non-teaching” adults on campus can bring to the table when it comes to the quest of educating kids? For years I have said that the security guards, the school lunch personnel and so on would love to be asked to do more than merely clean the garbage or scoop out the corn kernels and plop them on lunch trays.
Yet we don’t ask. And we don’t empower. And we don’t trust. The fact is, school employees, for the most part, LIKE KIDS (at least as much as teachers do, LOL) and would love to lend their wisdom and insights if only they were empowered to do so.
My feeling is that it’s a great waste of our natural resources that we do not ask more of the people who would be quite willing to do more. Just because a person is a school custodian is no reason not to believe that this person can’t also be an educational ally.
And when it comes right down to it, don’t you think that the conversation I just heard came from a man who had a small degree of credibility to speak about the matter? Heck, maybe even more so than myself.