Melvin Mack has a job to do. He’s in charge of taking out the trash. He even volunteered for the position.
“I was the only one raising my hand,” he said. “I just wanted to have a job so I could help the class.”
He empties the trash for his second-grade class at Sunflower School. The school lost its part-time evening custodian after the Lawrence school district had to cut $2.5 million from its budget for the year. Teachers saw the opportunity to turn a negative into a learning opportunity.
“We’ve always had these chores, but now we’ve had to make sure these chores do get done and make sure that it is clean for everybody,” said second-grade teacher Tammy Valencia.
Students are in charge of a variety of jobs and everyone has to pitch in to clean their desks.
“It’s important to keep our room clean and not spread germs,” said second-grader Josie Abernathy. “We don’t want people to get sick.”
Disinfectant wipes were on the school supply list, and Valencia said the children go through them quickly.
The students don’t mind a little extra work.
“We all like jobs,” said second-grader Jordan Lavin. “There’s a lot of stuff to do.”
Plus, maybe for just a little while, they feel like they’re doing adult stuff.
“Grown-ups usually take out the trash,” Melvin said, adding, “it’s important to always recycle stuff.”
Valencia said the cleaning gave her kids a sense of pride and accountability. It might be necessary now that there are fewer custodians to do the same amount of work, but the kids are rising to the occasion.
“Sometimes it’s an added chore, but it’s what we have to get used to at the moment, and right now it’s making kids proud of where they’re at,” Valencia said.