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Lessons from a School Custodial Worker

by Professor Joe Martin

I’ve come to realize that everyone in education is a teacher; many just weren’t assigned a classroom. I came across a funny (but true) story that illustrates the power of creative teaching. Allow me to share it with you to help you relieve a little teacher stress today.

A certain private school in Washington, D.C. recently was faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Every night, the maintenance man would to remove lip prints, and the next day, the girls would put them back on the mirror. Finally, the custodian decided that something had to be done, so he reported the situation to the principal.

The principal agreed, and she called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required to clean the mirror. So he took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet several times, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, were no more lip prints on the mirror. The moral of the story is: there are teachers, and then there are Educators. And know that our actions can “teach” much louder than words. As always, teach with passion!





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