Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Custodian teaches literacy and social responsibility

March 13, 2009
BURNABY, BC, Canada — A custodian at Capitol Hill Elementary School started a club three years ago to promote literacy and teach students social responsibility, according to the Burnaby News-Leader.
Fran DeTracie, a 21-year veteran custodian whose job begins when students leave for the day, started the Junior Custodian Club as a way to liven her quiet evenings cleaning the desolate school, the story stated.
According to the story, she began leaving notes on the blackboards and desks praising students for cleaning up their areas; sometimes the notes would have spelling or grammatical errors for them to correct. On some occasions, when she was stripping wax off the floor, she would write questions into the old wax and students would write the answer back the next day before she’d clean it off.
DeTracie''s janitorial closet is painted with notes from the students who reply to her overnight messages; there are so many that soon she’ll have to begin pasting them to the ceiling, the story noted.
DeTracie said: "These walls are quite an inspiration to me. Some of this work gets pretty monotonous and all I have to do is look up and get inspiration. The neat thing is to watch their literacy skills develop over the years."
Although most kids take the janitor for granted because they don’t see the work involved, her notes teach them about doing the right thing and taking more responsibility for their own situation, the story added.
According to Principal Susan Masson, she knew DeTracie and her club were a hit one day when a little boy came rushing up to her and said proudly, “I came to tell you there’s a mess in the washroom that needs to be cleaned up. I’m a junior custodian, you know.”
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