Characters of Clearfield: George Smeal talks about his experience being a Custodian

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Clearfield Elementary School

Rylee C. Ogden, Staff Writer

Most students appreciate the cleanliness of Clearfield Area Jr./Sr. High School, but do they ever think about the group that makes that possible? Custodians play a massive role in keeping the image of Clearfield Area School District exceptional. In this article, we will take an inside look at Clearfield Custodian George Smeal.

George Smeal has been employed by the Clearfield School District since September of 1998. This will be his 25th year as a custodian. Mr. Smeal’s favorite aspect of his job is the students. He stated, “I love when students come up to me and give me a high five or just say hi Mr. Smeal, or hi Mr. George. You and they are the reason we do what we do and like I said already, your success is the passion that drives us to come to work every day.”

Mr. Smeal currently works at the elementary school, where he has been for nine years. However, he started at the high school and spent first sixteen of his total years. Mr. Smeal explained the tasks custodians take on day to day. Mr. Smeal explained, “…working inside the building fixing student lockers, cleaning and disinfecting the locker rooms and restrooms, scrubbing hallways, replacing lights, ballasts, and stripping and sealing classroom floors. I also work a lot outside the building, mowing the lawn, and weed eating.” He also went on to explain his part in preparing the sports facilities and fields for games and practices.

The custodian also gave some insight into his change from high school custodian to elementary school custodian. He explained, “I didn’t realize it back nine years ago, but it is a whole different animal at the elementary. The students are just learning the basics of life here and they are all soaking up everything that is taught to them. I see a lot of student-to-student teaching and learning going on here, some good and some not so good, but that’s the life we are living. We as adults constantly try to show the young students what the good choices are so they know what to choose for themselves.”

With that being said, it is apparent that Mr. Smeal, along with the other custodial staff, genuinely cares about the students. He even shared some advice for high school students. Mr. Smeal advised, “…cherish and use every day that you are in school to better yourselves and the lives of others. There are so many positive ways you can do this and so many opportunities every day to better yourselves and others in the school. If you make an effort to understand just one new concept that is being taught, the teachers and staff will meet you halfway to see that you get it right. It may take several days but stay focused on the goal of learning new things and it will benefit you in the time you are in school, and especially when you are out of school. The life you live in school is a very short time compared to the life you will live out of school, so make every moment count now.”

Many misconceptions surround the janitorial staff. A Clearfield teacher, Mrs. Bookhamer, commented on what she believed was a misconception about the staff. She stated, “One of the biggest misconceptions about janitors is that all they do is clean. They do lots more. They have the looming responsibility of keeping this huge facility in good shape. There is lots of maintenance and repairs that keeping up a building this large requires.” Mr. Smeal also commented that one big misconception is that the staff have the summer off; however, it is their busiest time getting everything ready for the next school year.

It is clear that the custodial staff does not get the recognition they deserve. Next time you pass a custodian in the hallway do not be afraid to say a simple, “Hello” or “Thank You.” A simple gesture can make a world of difference.