Archive for Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kids step up to fill cleaning void

Loss of custodian turns into lesson

Sunflower School second-grader Melvin Mack, 7, empties the trash for teacher Tammy Valencia’s class Tuesday. The school lost its part-time evening custodian after the Lawrence school district cut $2.5 million from its budget.

Sunflower School second-grader Melvin Mack, 7, empties the trash for teacher Tammy Valencia’s class Tuesday. The school lost its part-time evening custodian after the Lawrence school district cut $2.5 million from its budget.

August 26, 2009


Banner Williams and Gahyun Park, also 7 and second-graders at Sunflower, clean a classroom table.

Banner Williams and Gahyun Park, also 7 and second-graders at Sunflower, clean a classroom table.

Kids help keep school clean

After budget cuts saw some school custodians lose their jobs, kids at Sunflower Elementary School are taking on the responsibility. Kids handle tasks such as cleaning desks and picking up trash. Enlarge video

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.


Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

And what is wrong with being a custodian? We have done pretty good and my hubby has been a custodian for a few years. My family has a roof over our heads, food in our cupboards and my children have health insurance. Heck, my hubby still has a job so we're very thankful for that!!

I think this teaches the kids some responsibilty. Keep it up and hopefully this will continue to grow throughout all of the schools in the district.

Zachary Stoltenberg 6 years, 3 months ago

My dad always told me, it doesn't matter what job you do, do it the best you can and put your whole heart into it. Not only will this teach the kids some responsibility, maybe they will grow up into teenagers and adults who won't take advantage of custodial workers. These people are a valuable part of our school system, offices, everything. Thank you to Dancemom and her husband, without people like you we would all be living and working in piles of our own trash!

salad 6 years, 3 months ago

So it's perfectly OK to assign kids a cleaning duty, because the district can't manage it's money, but it's NOT OK to assign a student a cleaning duty as punishment for any of a variety of infractions*. The irony......

*This is completely true, I've witnessed it firsthand: kids can have detention, but you can't make em do anything like cleaning or taking out trash or picking up trash, etc.... Woe be to the teacher or administrator who tries and then has the kid or parents complain or sue that the kid was exposed to "an unsafe environment (germs)" or some other BS.

alm77 6 years, 3 months ago

Salad, picking up should never be a punishment. It's just reality that things need to be cleaned. It would be rather unhealthy for kids to see their personal responsibilities as punishments.

I think this is GREAT! Builds character.

multiagelearner 6 years, 3 months ago

So my kid can use cleaning supplies and chemicals that I don't let them use at home to clean up after the districts mismanagement of money? Bleach and Amonia are not chemicals my 6 year old has access to at home. Most pediatricians would agree. Wake up and keep our kids safe!

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

Where does is say they are using bleach and amonia?

yellowlight 6 years, 3 months ago

In Japan, the students clean the schools. They don't have custodians.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

z - thanks:) I pass it on to my husband.

I wish the nay-sayers would read the arcticle b/c the way I read it, the kids are excited to help.

yellow - Little overboard, wouldn't you say.

I think in some situations they should be required to clean up after themselves. If some of the negative commentors only knew what goes on at the secondary level. Some of the kids have no respect for school property or anyone else using school property. They pee in the trash cans, heaters, on the towels they've thrown on the floor. They take their feces and rub it all over the bathroom stalls. They just don't care. I'm not saying this about all the kids just the ones who little to destroy property. I'm sorry I offend anyone, but I think there needs to be consequences to things like this. And yes I know how teenagers are, I have one. She has graduated HS and is in her second year of college. So not all teenagers act like that.

salad 6 years, 3 months ago

To be clear, I absolutely think that kids should have to clean up in their schools. I think they should have to walk around and clean up the school as punishment too. Heck, I even think that fractions and algebra should be used as punishment. The only problem with using math as a discipline method, is that no administrator could check the work; you'd actually have to get a teacher for that. I find great fault with the concept of, "we can't afford janitors, so you kids have to do it now." As mentioned, it should be part of the normal school day practice, that kids have to clean up after themselves.

multiagelearner 6 years, 3 months ago

If they are using clorox wipes and the video shows windex or a window cleaner, Both with chemicals I keep out of my child's reach! If they have to sign up to use the internet, maybe we agree to let them use chemicals in the classroom.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 3 months ago

I can't tell if multiage is joking or not. When I was these kids age I was spending every Sunday neck deep in all manner of household cleaners. Not because I was trying to eat them but because my Mom was making me (gasp) clean the house, and I was learning how to properly use dangerous substances rather than just avoiding them. Good responsibility and safety lessons.

Do you really want to make sure your kids never eat the cleaning products? Make them actually clean with them a couple of times and they'll never want to go near them again, guarenteed. Plus you get the extra benefit of having a clean home.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

They didn't get rid of all the custodians. The school still has it's main day custodian, they let the part time evening on go.

salad - wasn't commenting on your post as others that say kids shouldn't be doing labor.

multiage - i guess if it bothers you, send a note to school or maybe donate some safe/earth-friendly supplies for them to use. I still don't see any harm.

salad 6 years, 3 months ago

Dancemomx2 is correct. She is talking about the behavior of one specific group of teens: BOYS. Teenage boys should be required to use a millitary style latrine (outdoors), and should have to dig it themselves. Civilized teens (girls) can use the indoor facilities.

bellamber 6 years, 3 months ago

Take Back the Night Benefit Concert at the Granada all ages doors open at 7 show is from 730-midnight 5 bands for $5 Live music for a great cause! help end sexual and domestic violence

bellamber 6 years, 3 months ago

because it's a great cause. . .and I'm shameless in my efforts to try to make a difference! :) come out and enjoy some good music. 5 bands for $5 All ages. . . meaning you can even bring out the kids who (like the ones in the article) are also working to make a difference!

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

rehab - i can say this, as i'm knocking on a piece of wood, my husband has worked for the district for over 5 years, we have 3 children (19 - in college, 9 - public school, 2- my in home daycare) we have not gotten a flu shot in over 8 years. Thankfully none of us have gotten sick. I don't plan on getting one this year either. So to me it seems strange that the majority of our friends and all of the parents who bring their children to me are the ones who get the shots every year and are the ones who get sick. In almost 10 years as a provider I have only closed twice due to illness in my family. One was unavoidable, our 2 year old had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery the other was due to an extended families funeral. So I all for them helping just be sure to teach them to wash their hands after dumping the trash, going to the bathroom or even anything that might call for washing hands. That is one of the first things all of the children who come into my care learn how to do. So I'm not sure what the right answer is, but I don't believe putting them down b/c they want to help is the right thing to do.

salad - i wouldn't go that far, girls can be just as nasty, i've heard horror stories from both sides.

midwestmom 6 years, 3 months ago

Are they using classroom instruction time? How does this effect the number of 'learning minutes' per year the district is mandated to provide children in exchange for dollars?

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

rehab - i have a 2 yr old and he adds my home daycare. thank you.

vertigo - can bet the students or teachers at the school he is in will ever clean anything. thats the way it is now. the majority could care how the school looks. oh and guess what the parents leave it a mess after meetings and award ceremonies.

you guys can be as negative and find as many mistakes as you want, in my posts, don't care. at this point i think it's sad when you haven't walked a day in my shoes or my husbands. so bring it on.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

rehab - i do not sit at home. i run a family child care business out of my home. thank you. it should say attends not add. thank you. you also have no room to talk b/c you have no idea about my business. get off your high horse.

please tell me where i dismissed those other custodians jobs at. some of them were let go from my husbands work and if you would read my earlier posts i said i was thankful he has his job.

Lori Nation 6 years, 3 months ago

Dang are they going to be driving buses from now on also??

Cheap labor don't you think?

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

Iristh1230 - thank you for the laugh, that was a good one.

uh-oh now i'm dismissing the bus drivers. everyone has an opinion just like everyone has a butthole. you don't have to like it. i'm not trying to offend anyone and i believe this has gotten way out of hand. especially when it comes down to my children and how i make a living. i don't take money from the state. i earn every penny. and the children who have come and gone have loved my home and the care i have given them. they have turned out to be good kids. i'm sure i've said something else i'll be attacked for but oh well, deal with it and read into it how ever you want.

denak 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow, I really can't believe that there are people who are against this. Who think there children are "too good" to do this. For those who do, do you pick up after your kids at home also? Are they responsible for their rooms and other household chores?

I think this is a good idea. We aren't talking about kids cleaning up vomit, or using extra strength industrial cleaners, or using a weed whacker to trim the weeds. There isn't anything wrong with having children clean up after themselves. Kindergartners can pick up their toys/books and put them in the proper bins. Children in 1-4th grade can pick up trash, put in in the garbage, put their chairs on their desk, older kids can use wipes to clean off the desk, take out garbage, sweep, vacumn, etc. What ever is considered age appropriate.

Children learn respect for their property, the property of others and for themselves, when they learn to do for themselves.

Melvin Mack's teacher had it right. This is an opportunity to teach the kids about pride..pride in their environment and pride in themselves.

The kids think this is great and for once, we, adults, should listen to them.


P.S. I love Melvin's hair!!! What a cutie!

casper43 6 years, 3 months ago

I see no issue with the kids cleaning up their scool room and I am grandma to one of the kids doin the cleanin. It is a great chance to teach them some responsibility. I know that Melvin is very proud of the job he is doing in his class room and it seemed that all of the kids are proud.

Thanks denak, he is a cutie.

labmonkey 6 years, 3 months ago

Cmon...part of the grade school experience is talking to the crazy old janitor.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 3 months ago

That's all I was trying to say. Where did I go wrong? The kids are enjoying it, so let them be. I'm just trying to figure out why some attacked me for things I said. And the funny thing is none of them have posted since my last one. Oh well, to each his own.

Jama Crady Maxfield 6 years, 3 months ago

it is unfortunate that some of the custodial staff lost their jobs......I don't think anyone is saying otherwise. However, in light of such an awful situation, this is a great solution that teaches kids some form of work ethic, and pride in their school. Great idea Mrs. Valencia! For the parent who doesn't want her precious kiddos touching cleaning products, give me a break. I teach high school kids and those kids grow up to be the ones who refuse to walk their trash to the trash can but rather leave it on the floor. Good luck to you, as I think you're going to need it when they get older.

mngirl 6 years, 3 months ago

Dancemom- you have to right. I see nothing wrong with what you have said!

This is a fantastic way to teach kids responsibilty and they enjoy it!

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