I dropped Joy off at school yesterday morning in person, as I always do, walking her right up to the doors where the buses for kids with special needs stop. Joy pulls the door open herself... and yesterday she managed to get all the way inside without further help, a new inchstone!
The aide who meets Joy with an animated hug and peek-a-boo each morning hadn't made it all the way down the hall yet, so Joy and I hung out for a bit. As we waited, one of the janitors, a guy who's been at the school at least since Rose was in kindergarten 5 years go, came up behind us. I greeted him by name, he said hi and then came over to Joy. "Hi, Joy!" he said.
"HA!" answered Joy, with the charming little wave of greeting she's developed.
The janitor came close and hunkered down. "High-five, Joy?" he offered and put up his hand -- and she gave it a cheerful slap.
I was delighted that this guy knew my daughter, and took the time to greet and welcome her! As the aide stepped up a minute later, I shared my delight with her. She said that they've been working on the relationship; that he has a regular trash-collection route that takes him past Joy's table at the lunch hour, which is where the regular greeting has been established.
Even beyond the school day relationships with the children, this guy goes above and beyond to be part of the community at off-hours events as well. For example, he comes out for the school's annual fun-run and helps out grilling the bratwurst, just as much a part of the community as the teacher who traditionally leads the "silly warm-up exercises" at the event.
So when I hear things like a certain presidential candidate's recommendation "get rid of the unionized janitors... and pay local students to take care of the school" -- well, here's one unionized janitor that I'm glad to have in our lives.
High-fives for the janitors and their contributions to our school communities!