I’m there every day

I enjoy my job – seeing the children from kindergarten all the way to high school, what they’ve become, what they’re going to do. I think they figure I’m reliable. I’m there every day.  And, if I’m not on the bus at the elementary school they won’t get on the bus. If I’m not sitting in that seat, you can forget it. They just stand there.

We heard you haven’t taken a day of sick leave in your career. What motivates you to be here every day?

The students – to get them their schools so they can get an education. They are the future.

I enjoy it. Plus, I’m up early. I walk my dog at 4 a.m., and then I come home and get ready to go to work and do my pre-trip and everything. I drive students to Princess Anne High School, Pembroke Elementary, Pembroke Meadows Elementary and Independence Middle. One of my students recently lost his father in an accident. I understand he’s staying with relatives in another city, so I asked the school what I could do to help and I donated money.

Has there ever been a day when you thought you couldn’t go to work?

No, not really.

What’s your secret?

Walking. Walking! I have a golden retriever that you have to walk. He’ll go get his leash and he’ll stand there with those big, brown eyes. And, no matter how you feel, you’ve got to go. We usually walk 2 to 2.5 miles. We try to do it three times a day.

How long will you drive your bus?

As long as I feel well.

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I’m very proud of my family

I was born and raised here in Virginia Beach. I lived in Pungo my whole life. I attended Virginia Beach schools: Creeds, Trantwood and John B. Dey. I graduated from Kellam High School – the old Kellam High School – and that’s where I met my wife.  I’m very proud of my family because my wife is an intellectual disability teacher at Corporate Landing Middle and my son just became the assistant principal at Landstown High School last week. My parents still live in Pungo. They’re originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. My father worked here at the school system for many years and he retired from here. He was in the carpentry shop. He ran that for many years when the old School Plant used to be at Oceana. Then, he came here. He was in tile and carpet when he retired.

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I like to play volleyball

I want to be a famous volleyball player. I like to play volleyball. I’ve played for two seasons. My first season I was kind of nervous, but then I felt comfortable with the group of people because I knew them and they went to school with me. I found out it was my sport because I was really good at it. I was playing T-ball then, since I was 3 or something. Then, when I was in kid pitch, I got hit in the mouth and my tooth was dangling – one of my grown-up teeth. Then I started playing volleyball.

What makes somebody good at volleyball?

You are aggressive. I’m really aggressive. And then you wear knee pads and you slide across the floor, so I’m good at that, of course. I’m good at hitting it. I’m good at serving it overhand. I’m the only one on my team that can serve overhand.

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I have a lot of culture around me

My favorite class has to be Spanish because I have too much culture around me not to speak the language. My family, we come from the islands. My dad’s side of the family comes from Montserrat and my mom’s side of the family comes from Puerto Rico. My mom’s dad’s family comes from Jamaica. I have a lot of culture around me. I just want to build up so I can communicate with them in all the ways they were used to when they were younger.

Have you thought about what you want to do when you get older?

I’ve always wanted to make cars and just build them. I think it would be cool to invent an actual hybrid car – like cross two brands of cars into one car, half and half. Let’s say, I’ll take a Bugatti and a Nissan. I’ll put the engine of the Bugatti inside of the Nissan and make it really dope. It would be called the Bugatti GT-R because there is a Nissan Skyline GT-R. That would be really cool.

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Valentine’s Day is more about friendship

I think most people think Valentine’s Day is more about love, but I think it’s more about friendship. Some people think it’s all about having a Valentine, but you don’t need one – you can just have everyone to be nice to.

So, everyone is your Valentine?

Basically, yes.

Why do you think it’s important to be nice and kind to everyone?

Well, because Ms. Hand talked about it and she said, “It brings a mile of smiles.”

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They’re really my kids

This is my fourth year at Lynnhaven Middle. The best part of my job is getting to see the kids every year and how they change and get better and to know some of their story. And a lot of it breaks your heart a little bit; you just never know what students really are going through until you work [in a school]. I have two kids. They went through school. I mean, just in general, you don’t know what kids are dealing with nowadays, and sometimes you can make them laugh or smile, give them a hug, make them feel a little bit better, listen to them and be there for them. I mean, we’re here for the headaches, the stomachaches, the PE injuries and things like that, but you develop relationships with kids. You just see them grow. They’re really my kids. My husband says, ‘They’re not your kids,’ but they’re my students; they’re my kids. I’m glad I get to be here every day for them and hopefully I can give them something if they’re not getting it at home. I use a lot of humor in my nursing because that’s just how I relate. If I can make kids laugh or smile, I enjoy it. I’m not changing the world by any means, but you can make a difference.

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I love my job

I was born and raised in Pungo. I went to Creeds Elementary for grades 1-7 and then I went to Kellam. They didn’t have middle schools then…or air conditioning.

I started out with the division in 1972 as an electrician and I was an electrician for 26 years. Then they created the night crew. So for almost 20 years I’ve been in charge of plumbing, electrical and HVAC from 2-10:30 at night. I was head of security officers that work overnight. I was in charge of them for 3.5 years.

Are you a night owl?

Yes. I love it. I love nights. I go to bed at 1-1:30 in the morning.

What would you say about the night crew?

Oh, they’re great. It takes a special person to work nights. I have 22 people – they do HVAC, electrical, plumbing, A/C filters. We take care of all that at night. We have two night crews. The other night crew is everything but mechanical systems. It’s been good. I love my job – love my job and I love the people.

Are you retiring? 

No. Maybe in a couple more years. I might make it to 50 years. I don’t know.

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Hawaiian travels

You got to go to Hawaii, right? What was that like?

It was good. It looked like a tropical island. You couldn’t go out, like, far in the ocean. There were tiny fish swimming up around my grandma and my grandma’s friend’s legs. This kid, he was looking for the fish in the water. He was snorkeling.

I heard you brought back a special gift for your assistant principal. What did you do?

We used some wrapping paper and we put some sand in a bottle and we wrapped it up and we gave it to her.

Why did you do that?

Because she asked me nicely. She said that she wanted some sand from (Hawaii).

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I’m passionate about school spirit

What I’m passionate about at Kempsville is school spirit – 100 percent. I like to dress all crazy. Me and partner in crime, Abby O’Neil, try to step up every spirit day. When I got here four years ago I noticed there wasn’t a huge participation in spirit days. I thought there was a little more school spirit when I was here…maybe not much. I graduated in 2009. Honestly, when I was here, I only did some of the days. Whereas, now I try to go all out. Me and O’Neil try to push each other all the time because it’s fun and it brightens the school up.

I’ve dyed my beard before for Chief Pride Day. I dyed it red and blue. We dressed up for Old Person Day. I’m always partial to America Day. I’m a very patriotic person. On Twin Day a bunch of students dressed up like me. On Tacky Sweater Day I dyed my beard green and hung ornaments in it. Kids start laughing when they see me. Good! It’s funny. It’s school spirit!

When I was in high school I thought I was cool, in a bad way – as in, I didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities Kempsville had for me. I didn’t go to leadership workshop. I didn’t do many spirit days and stuff because I thought I would be a weirdo. I didn’t want to stick out. Now I do this so that kids know it’s okay to take these opportunities. I’m all about after-school activities, about spirit, about wanting to be here.

Kempsville is such a cool school. It really is. It’s a historical school. We have a community that supports us and I mean, some kids knock the building for being 50 years old but our custodial staff is awesome. They are rock stars. It’s an old school, but we have roots. I can’t emphasize how cool it is to see from both sides, as a student and a teacher. I mean, I teach across from my English teacher from 11th grade. It’s just a really cool place to be.

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I want a spring dance

I like to do math a lot and multiplication, but sometimes it’s really hard. We’re getting into decimals and I’m kind of starting to understand. I also like to do Achieve3000, and we’re doing this watershed project where we build it and paint it.

I hear you are a member of your principal’s student advisory panel.

I am. I like that we can share our ideas to make our school a better school, and it’s really fun going to the meetings.

What are some ideas the group has to make the school better?

A vending machine. Vending machines…I just like them for some reason.

Also, I want a spring dance. That’s when the weather is OK to dress up and that’s my birthday season. My birthday is in May. We could have a carnival theme.

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I’ve always loved art

I’ve always loved art. I’ve done it since I can remember. I got into being an actual artist and selling my stuff about eight years ago. I do a lot of mixed media – found objects and a lot of stuff with silverware. It’s just fun. Finding different objects, common objects that people kind of look at and throw away, I love to repurpose them – old clocks, old watches, basically anything I can find. I go to thrift stores a lot. I just go in there for hours. Sometimes I don’t really have an idea I just find the piece and that sparks the idea. Sometimes I do have an idea and I’m looking for that one special piece. Then it’s like a needle in a haystack, but sometimes you find it.

So I kind of do that on the side any time I have free time. It’s pretty cool because I get to take that and bring it into the classroom and the kids just love it.

This is my 15th year teaching – 14 in kindergarten and one year in pre-K. I’ve just always loved the little ones. They’re so moldable. I just love that they come in not knowing a whole lot and then when that light bulb goes off, especially around January, it’s amazing! And when they leave kindergarten and you’re responsible for that, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.

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I like helping my little sister

I like helping my little sister. She’s 1. I help her with ABCs. I say, “OK, A-B-C,” and then she starts smiling. We also do little flashcards with my old flashcards I used to do. I bring them out and I say “A is for apple;” and if we have that thing in the house, I bring it and let her touch it and see if she can get used to it. I’m always the small one in my family and I’m always the one being taught by somebody. Now, this little munchkin is here and I get to help her.

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I’m interested in running for office

I am a senior at Kempsville High School. My interest is to go and get a political science degree at whatever college I may attend. I recently found out that I’m moving to Naples, Italy in early July. My stepfather was stationed in Naples, working for the US government. I’m very excited. It’s a big opportunity. I’m going to be attending UMOC Europe. It’s an online/onsite college. I will be majoring in political science and then I’m going to get my law degree. I’m hopefully going to be a lawyer working in the 757 area or probably Northern Virginia. I also so have an interest in running for political office one day. I’m very excited. I hope to represent the Old Dominion very well one day.

Why are you interested in running for office?

I’m interested I running for office because I do believe that politicians and our youth are the future. Essentially, if we can find a way to collaborate and work together we will have the ability to change the future for whatever good we may believe in.

Are you interested in any particular area or policies?

Education reform. Both my parents work in the education system. I grew up around parents who taught children and I always saw how passionate they were. I know that a lot of the teachers who work in the school system are very passionate and I want them to have the best resources available to them to be able to educate young minds and hopefully, one day, create teachers for tomorrow.

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Seeing young minds grow

What I like about Windsor Woods are the kids. When I started with the school system I was working nights, so I didn’t really interact with the kids. So when I became the head day custodian I didn’t know if I had the temperament for kids because my kids are all grown up. When I came in and started working with them, it’s fun. Kids are so honest. They’re really honest. It makes me appreciate being here, seeing young minds grow.

Your principal says you’re doing a lot of mentoring, too.

I just want them…some may not have a father figure or someone who is going to guide them down the right path, so I just want them to know – right or wrong – I’m going to be fair.

 

And I heard you were arm wrestling students.

That was for a leukemia fundraiser. They donated $1 to arm wrestle me during lunch. It was funny. It was really funny. I gave them a Superman cape to wear.

Did you win?

No. All the kids were too strong.

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I’m a triplet

I’m a triplet. I have two brothers. I’m the youngest. We are all in different classes.

Do you like being a triplet?

Well, sometimes, but mostly I don’t get the attention. I do get my own room.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

Last time, we went to Great Wolf Lodge and I brought one of my friends. We just had one birthday cake and I don’t know how many candles. I’m turning 10 this year. My birthday is in December.

What do you like to do in school or outside of school?

In school I like to do math and division. Outside of school I like to play on my phone or play on my Xbox. I like reading. I like telling others about my life. Sometimes I just tell them in talking or I write about it.

I want to be a neurologist when I grow up. My mom says, please be a doctor so you can have a good experience in life. So, I want to be a neurologist. They have a good job and they study more, and I like to study.

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I just really like helping people

The people at this school are really cool. The teachers, they’re great. I love my teachers, and Mr. Harris is really nice. I started a club earlier. They make it really easy to do what you want to do with it. I started an Operation Smile club. In middle school I did it for a little bit, but I didn’t really get into it. Then when I got to sophomore year, I started volunteering at their headquarters and I met some great people and it was a lot of fun. I thought, we don’t have a club here and I know other high schools have them and I wanted to start one.

I want to be a doctor when I graduate so it’s a good way to help people and learn a little bit about medicine, even though there is not much hands-on experience. It’s just great being in the environment and meeting new people and hearing about their missions and knowing I’m doing something to help them, even if it’s just small.

Why are you interested in becoming a doctor?

I’m really good at math and science, so that kind of helps. And I just really like helping people, honestly. I’ve always loved volunteering; it’s my favorite thing to do. Becoming a doctor would mean I could help people every day.

I love children so I was thinking about becoming a pediatrician but I have a lot of personal experience with eyesight; like, I’m wearing contacts right now, so I was thinking about ophthalmology. The eye is so cool! It’s connected to the brain. There are so many things about the eye. You’ve got the iris and the pupil, and there are cones and rods and that’s what makes you see color, and certain people see different colors in different ways because of the cones and the rods. And the optic nerve connects to your brain. And you could hurt your eye in some way and it can be fixed even though it’s this weird ball, squishy material. It’s just really cool.

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I like to dance

I like to dance because it expresses how I feel. I also love to sing, act and draw. It expresses who I am because you don’t have an instruction to do it; you can just do it freely. I try to do it every day in my free time. My favorite is dancing. I go to Old Donation School every Monday. It’s a school for the gifted and I go to school there for a day for dance. I’m on the dance team there. Here, at my school, I’m on the safety patrol team. A safety patrol is a person who helps keep people safe. So, I hold the door for people who are coming in. We tell them to walk instead of run. I decided to do it because I want to keep everyone safe and I want to make sure that everyone is okay.

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When we grow up

When we grow up we’re going to be different. When you’re 10, you’re a little different and when you’re a grown-up, you’re, like, really different.

How are you going to be different?

I buy my own clothes. Have my own money. Put your clothes on by yourself. I’m ready to go out on my own because I problem solved and opened a bag of chips.

What are you going to be when you grow up?

I find dinosaur eggs and see what dinosaur’s it is. I want a Tyno Rex!

Where have you learned about dinosaurs? In school or somewhere else?

Somewhere else. I go to Dinosaur World! It’s very long to get there. But you can go wherever you want because there is a park there and I went to a park there. I saw real dinosaurs!

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Friday is my last day

I’ve seen the shop grow from three people to 36. All three of us rode in the same truck to do AC work, and that was it. That was it. I’m going to say there were maybe 40-ish schools at the time. We were just getting started with AC. I graduated in 1972 from Kempsville High, and First Colonial and Kempsville were the only high schools that had air conditioning at that time. Then there were a couple of middle schools. That is my biggest reflection; I’ve seen a lot people come and go in my shop. I’m going to miss the people a lot.

Are you retiring?

Yes. Friday is my last day.

What are you going to do in retirement?

I’m not really sure. I’m going to do some work for a couple guys that do side work. My wife, all she’s worried about is me laying around and not doing anything. We’re kind of remodeling the house right now so family can take it over and then we’re moving and downsizing.

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I have a love for math

My favorite subject is math. There’s nothing wrong with other subjects but math is just what I like. I have a love for it. I understand it. I want to be a math teacher – a middle school math teacher. I want to teach in middle school because the kids are not too childish but then they’re not grown yet, so I can kind of get them on the right track before they hit high school. I had a great middle school math teacher and I feel like I could be like her. I don’t feel like a lot of people understand how to use math and I want to make sure they can use it. I can use real world situations to help them out and help them understand what math is really for.

I plan to go to North Carolina Central to study education. I’ve been accepted. The campus tour is next weekend. There is a freshmen orientation in June where we are there for a week.

Do you want to come back and teach at the beach?

I will. I plan to come back home. I’m in the VTFT program – Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow. So, I will be applying for the teaching contract and hopefully I will be selected and will have a guaranteed job with Virginia Beach when I come back.

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