Let’s Talk with Thomas Walker

brantin@thestate.comAugust 11, 2013 

Thomas Walker, building supervisor at Burton-Pack Elementary School, replaces ceiling tiles in classrooms to prepare for the start of the school semester.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com Buy Photo

— The summer silence will be ending soon for Thomas Walker. But he’s ready for a little noise.

For the past several weeks, the Burton-Pack Elementary School building supervisor and his staff have been busy getting the Richland 1 school ready for the little feet that will walk through the doors Aug. 19 to begin the academic year. It’s a task mirrored at many Midlands schools, one Walker feels is key to helping students get off to a good start.

He spoke recently about the work that goes into keeping a school in top shape and the impact he hopes his staff will have on students:

How much of a difference is there during the summer months when the students are away?

“There is a big difference because there is no one around and we can get the work done a lot easier. It’s relaxing because it’s very busy during the school year.”

So what are you most looking forward to about having the students and faculty return?

“To see that they are coming back to a clean building. It means a lot for them to know that they have a place that’s nice and clean. And they seem to react better. I’ve received compliments from teachers and I’ve also had students tell me the building is very clean. I grew up liking things to be clean, so when I’m in the work place, I like for it to be the same way.”

What is one of the biggest challenges getting the school ready for students and faculty to return?

“Making sure all the work is done and that everything is in the proper place. We often have furniture that a teacher is no longer going to use, so we make sure to put it in storage. They could very well use it the next year or during the coming year.”

So tell us – are boys really more messy than girls?

“(Laughing) Yes sir. They drop paper towels (in the restrooms) and throw wet towels on the walls. With the girls, you don’t usually find that much. We spend more time (cleaning) in the boys’ restrooms.”

What is the secret to keeping school floors so shiny?

“We strip them during the summer and apply new wax. And during the school year, we keep them burnished. We clean them at least twice a week (during the school year).”

What are some things that students can do to make the job of your staff easier?

“Picking up behind themselves and making sure they are putting things in their proper places. They have to learn the routine. I have seen kids pick up things before and I thank them for it.”

What are some of the examples you would like for your staff members to set for the students?

“Make sure the kids see that you are doing what you should be doing so they can do the same thing. If you see a kid drop something, ask them to pick it up. All of that is teaching them as well.”

Finally, how important is teamwork in your job?

“It would not be possible for us to get things done without my staff working with me. After all, teamwork makes the dreams work.”

Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.

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