Puyallup School District’s Maplewood Elementary on West Pioneer is blessed with a beautiful exterior and an equally stunning interior. The halls are perfectly polished and dust and grime is nonexistent.
But, of course, Maplewood’s beauty doesn’t materialize on its own. It takes hard work and a careful hand to ensure the school is kept clean.
Making sure Maplewood stays beautiful is made possible by Jerry Lansang, the school’s head custodian.
“He takes great pride in our school and makes it his mission to ensure that our building is clean, organized and quite literally, sparkling,” said Susan Walton, the school’s principal.
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Walton’s comment was included in a nomination form full of positive comments from Maplewood staff sent to the district nomination office in hopes Lansang would be selected as one of two recipients of the 2015 Classified School Employee of the Year Award.
The school staff’s hard work paid off.
Lansang is one of two 2015 recipients who will be recognized at the March 16 Puyallup School Board at Glacier View Junior High. The second recipient is Carie Sauders, a paraeducator at Firgrove Elementary School. Both will also be recognized in the April edition of the school district’s Connections publication, which is mailed out to every household in the district and is posted on the district’s website.
Lansang started at Maplewood in 2008 as the night custodian. Two years ago he was promoted to head custodian.
“I enjoy everything,” Lansang said. “I think I will retire here as long as they keep me. I never get tired here because I enjoy the work. I like working with people.”
Lansang was born and raised in the Philippines. He came to America in 1981 and became a U.S. citizen in 1987.
Meanwhile, Sauders at Firgrove takes her job as a paraeducator very seriously.
“I teach reading in kindergarten through fourth grade,” Sauders said. “I was a student at Firgrove from fourth through sixth grade. All three of my children attended Firgrove in the co-op program. It feels like home to me. I have a passion for teaching kids how to read. Reading is the foundation for everything in our lives. I help these kids to become great readers. I will help them with other subjects and help them be successful in their lives and in their school life.”
Walton said Lansang impacts student learning by keeping the school clean. And Lansang is making a difference, made evident by the respect he receives daily from students.
“Students always see me in the hallway and they say, ‘Hi, Mr. Jerry, and thank you for your hard work,’” Lansang said.
Sixth-graders who are leaders in the school regularly help Lansang set up the gymnasium for assemblies.
Sauders said it’s important to note that classified staff represent a good portion of employees in a school. Classified employees include paraeducators, custodians, cooks, interpreters, nurses and other support staff.
“We’re all there and we’re all teachers, and we all teach the children in some way,” Sauders said. “I want to emphasize how valuable we are for what we do for children every day, in our own way we make a difference in the kids’ lives.”
Walton said the school staff at Maplewood is considered all one team.
“We’re one team here,” Walton said. “We’re all here for kids. We’re all here to help each other.”