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Mop Bucket Philosophy: Insights from the custodian

Jeremy Schurr is the head engineer at Brookview Elementary. He often shares his thoughtful observations and ideas with his Brookview colleagues and district leaders and we thought you'd enjoy them as well!

Shortly after Brookview opened, I remember one of the first preschool classes coming into the cafeteria for lunch.  After getting his tray, a boy in the class attempted to serve himself ketchup from the condiment cart.  Being short of stature was a definite obstacle to his goal.  First he tried his tippy toes, but to no avail.  He then hopped up, put his elbows on the edge of the cart, and somehow, someway, was able to free a hand to pump the ketchup; feet dangling.

It's probably cliche, but it often rings true; the role of teacher and student isn't fixed, oftentimes it's reversed, which is one of the greatest benefits of working in a learning community.  As a staff, many of us started out working in other fields (think about your first job), and in those initial jobs, the larger social benefit may have been harder to trace or detect, for instance, I remember my first job was in a convenience store, in which I knew my wage primarily came from the profits we got from selling the cigarettes that we enticingly displayed.  It's difficult for me to think of a workplace that has a more clear and direct socially positive impact, than working in education.

Ideally, what we participate in, is what we hope gets reflected in the neighborhoods outside our school buildings.  It's easy to minimize or forget our potential impact; checklists, deadlines, and schedules can do a good job obscuring, but the modeling, the give and take, the consequences, the celebrations, and the bonding clearly leave a mark, not only on those we serve...but on us.

As this strange and challenging school year grinds to a halt, it is easy to focus on what didn't go right, what we lost, or what got left behind.  I suggest looking at our resiliency, our care, our ingenuity, and the focus that the circumstances tried hard to derail.  Ultimately, the circumstances failed, and the focus became stronger.

There was a holdup in the serving line, and when I went to investigate, I noticed that one of the preschool boys was helping his classmate.  He was asking her how many strawberries she wanted, and he counted out loud as he scooped them onto her tray.  Here were preschoolers who were already putting into practice what we hope to instill in them when they graduate, a lesson in which we all can benefit.

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