October 18, 2012

Buddying Up In Gratitude

Mercy Knuppel and Jim Madrid enjoy the letters they
received from preschool and 5th grade buddies
A huge thank you to everyone who attended Friends’ event with Christine Carter last night.  As you might imagine, for a writer with a regular column like this one, I have a pretty tough editor.  An Englishman.  Wears a tie most days. A real stickler, he adheres to strict deadlines and wouldn’t let me hold the presses until after Dr. Carter’s talk last night.  You’ll get my reflections on this inspirational and educational evening a week from now.

In the meantime, all kinds of great things continue to inspire me every day in the classrooms of our school.

On Tuesday, Jessie and Katelynn invited me into their pre-K afternoon class.  The preschoolers had just finished spending time with their fifth grade buddy class, creating thank you notes to our wonderful custodial staff, Jim Madrid and Mercy Knuppel.  Another sign of our increased focus this year on not taking anyone for granted, as part of The Gratitude Project.

All of our classes have a younger or older buddy class. At Friends’ we believe it’s vital to expand our horizons beyond our immediate peers.  Preschoolers in particular receive a huge boost to their social learning by spending time with older students.  They are learning about social interactions, how to converse, to make connections, and so on.  For older kids, most just love participating in meaningful activities with younger buddies. Older students gain confidence in themselves which helps them, in turn, improve social situations with their own peers.

At Friends’ School, buddy classes join together for various activities and celebrations. For example, cleaning the Wellman Ditch on Earth Day, delivering May Day baskets, reading together, doing craft projects, or simply joining together to say thank you, as we experienced this week.

In the letters to Mercy and Jim, our students wrote some of these delightful sentiments.

Thank you for making my room look spotless.

Thank you for taking our trash, compost and recycling out, because it keeps our school healthy and clean.

Thank you for cleaning all the stuff in the whole school.  We appreciate you very much.

Thank you for cleaning up my room, so when I get here in the morning it’s nice and clean!

I like how you have a huge vacuum backpack.

And my favorite…

Dear Jim and Mercy, here are a few questions from magical Mollie.  Do you ride horseback?  Do you do gymnastics? How do you do it?

I’m looking forward to hearing their answers to those questions!

A close up view
Jim and Mercy often arrive to work at school after the children go home. Even though they are a big part of our community, many of our students and parents have not had the opportunity to meet them.  To some, the classrooms and hallways may appear to be cleaned by magic.  However, as I’m sure you are aware, it takes a lot of work and time to keep our school looking good and shining bright. The school’s pristine appearance reflects Jim and Mercy’s deep care for our school, its students, parents and staff.

Mercy and Jim have been keeping Friends’ School spotless for almost nine years.  Jim worked for forty years (yes, 40!) as a pipe fitter in the construction business.  Mercy had a career in real estate and then managed a jewelry store in her hometown of Brighton, Colorado.  When they both got laid off, they were offered work by Mercy’s daughter Carol Sandoval. Carol owns Baker Sandoval Cleaning with whom Friends’ contracts for our custodial services.

Cleaning our school after hours is the start of Mercy and Jim’s day.  After leaving our buildings spick and span, they head out to clean several other office buildings, often getting home around midnight.

If you see them around, please join our students in saying thanks. Thank you, Jim and Mercy, we are all very grateful for what you do for our school.

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