'We Can Learn From Each Other': Teacher Shares Touching Conversation With School Custodian

September 27, 2020

I asked him, "Why are you a custodian and not a teacher?"

Jamie Combs is a teacher in Kentucky and she wrote a beautiful story about the school custodian.

custodian dyslexia
Credit: Jamie Combs

This is what she wrote:

I had a most delightful conversation with a custodian at my school this morning.

I didn't recognize him and since I am new to this school, I introduced myself and learned that he is a floater who goes to whichever school needs him.

I was the lucky one who got to cross paths with him today!

He asked me what I teach.

I told him 4th grade.

Then, he asked me if I have any students who can't spell and I said I do.

He asked if he could show me the way he learned to remember to spell words.

I said sure!

He then wrote numbers and letters on the board as they appear on a phone.

Next, he wrote 262 and asked me if I can tell him what word that would be.

 

I correctly guessed Bob.

He said this was the way that has always helped him remember how to spell words and that this would be a fun game for kids.

He went on to share even more wonderful ideas with me and he was very animated and excited as he spoke which left me feeling inspired!

So I asked him, "Why are you a custodian and not a teacher?"

He said, "Actually, there are a lot of teachers in my family, but I'm dyslexic so I've always been told I'm too dumb for it, but I love being a custodian and I take a lot of pride in what I do.”

“When a teacher comes into their classroom, they can tell if its been cleaned. When I scrub a toilet, with these kids here, I never know if I am cleaning for a future president or a surgeon who will operate on me someday. Kids may not notice it, but school may be the cleanest place they go all day."

I left that conversation feeling like he has made me a better teacher today and what a shame it is that anyone ever made him feel dumb.

He is brilliant, but maybe not in the way most people measure.

I hope this post reminds us all that we can learn from each other, college degrees are not the only measure of brilliance, and you should never judge a book by its cover.

Dyslexic people have brilliant minds, too!

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