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School custodian spends part of shift mentoring students

Posted at 10:22 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 12:55:33-04

A custodian at Florence Elementary School proves you don't have to be a teacher to make a positive impact on students' lives.

John Evans, also known as 'Mr. Evans' at school, has been cleaning the school for over 10 years.

He makes sure the school is clean and that students are successful.

"He's someone that goes above and beyond what his actual job title is," said Principal Dr. Dan Hoeck. 

Beyond his janitorial skills, Mr. Evans spends part of his shift reading with students, checking in on their day, helping them with homework, and talks to students when they act out at school.

"It takes a village to raise kids so him being able to and willing to talk to students, to check in with them is key," said Hoeck. "That's why those check-ins are huge because sometimes kids - that's the only positive interactions these kids get throughout the day. And he does them daily."

Hoeck adds Mr. Evans creates a positive environment for students and staff.

"Their eyes light up when they see Mr. Evans. Everyone's does. Whether it be in the cafeteria, after school or see him walking down the hallway, as soon as they see him, they smile and light up," said Hoeck. "He's just that kind of guy that brings that type of charisma to the school."

Mr. Evans, who says he's considered going back to school someday to pursue a career in education, believes students need a 'positive adult pal' at school.

"Even though I'm here to keep the school clean, I love to make kids happy," said Mr. Evans. "And I see a lot of kids nowadays go through a lot of different things. So if I can be there for them even to check-in, I'll do it. It's about them and their success. They're our future."

Mr. Evans will sometimes even skip his dinner break to help students.

"Like with Lavelle, I'll take my break for him. just to give him that chance to get his reading out of the way, get it done, so he understands and then we'll go have some free time for a little bit," said Evans. 

When some students act out or have a tough day, Evans says he tries to listen and encourages students to do their best. 

"They come to me pretty often, and usually, they turn it around. I try and give them something to think about. I know they're young but something to try and prepare them for their future," said Evans. 

Especially with today's digital age, Evans says kids need a positive role model and someone to support them.

"You don't know what a kid has been through. I've seen often times, they'll come here, they'll cry. I'll see kids after school sitting in the playground, crying because they don't want to go home. And if I could just input something positive into their lives, just install it in them, and it makes them happy - I'm just happy to give it to them."

"When you hear the word custodian, you don't think of this glamor glitz job. It's a tough job, but the fact that Mr. Evans is able and willing to spend part of his day being a role model for these kids and takes the time to get to know them, that's key," said Hoeck.