Each day looks a little different for Richie Smith, day custodian at the middle school. “Throughout the day he can be seen in virtually every corner of the building delivering supplies, responding to emergencies and making sure the building is clean and safe for all students and staff,” says middle school principal Chris Reed. Although his typical duties include cleaning the cafeteria floors after nearly 500 pre-teens eat their lunch, Mr. Smith tackles everything—right down to jammed lockers.
“Usually all it takes is to pry it a little bit with a screwdriver,” says Mr. Smith. “Some of the students still have a heck of a time with their locker. They ask me, ‘can you help me with my lock?’ I can, I have a key to get in, but you have to learn your combination! So I help them figure it out.”
“Richie also cheerfully handles a multitude of last-minute requests that require a rapid response and for him to coordinate the assistance of several of his colleagues,” says Mr. Reed. Secretary Nancy Campagnone agrees.
“He is flexible, always looking out for the interest of others,” she says. “He is kind, helpful and will do anything you ask him to do! He has a very even temperament which is what you need when you work in the middle school. He does not get easily rattled when he needs to be doing two things at once.”
And more than just muscle goes into keeping the facilities clean, safe and ready for learning. Mr. Smith is proactive member of the team. “He is a very good communicator and problem solver,” says Mrs. Campagnone. “In the summertime when trying to schedule the cleaning of the building, he keeps us well informed of what rooms are being cleaned and when. For example, he may see that we are doing school physicals so he will talk to me about how that might impact hallway cleaning. He is a thinker.”
Mr. Smith says he really enjoys the deep-cleaning he and his colleagues can provide over the summer. “It’s rewarding to see how nice the building looks at the end of the summer,” as he prepares to help welcome everyone back to school.
Mr. Smith has been at Glens Falls City Schools for 14 years, having grown up locally and graduating from Corinth Central. When not at work, he volunteers his time helping others.
And while Mr. Smith isn’t presenting a lesson in front of a
classroom, he’s still teaching students through his actions,
attitude, and service. “Hopefully I’m also teaching them to
pick up after themselves,” he grins.