By TINA REED
The Capital of Annapolis
GAMBRILLS, Md. (AP) — The best way to see the impact Louis Queen has had at Four Seasons Elementary is to take a stroll down the hallways with him.
“Hi Mr. Louis!” students chirp to him as they reach out to get a high-five from the longtime custodian of the Gambrills school.
The hallways are spotless. No misplaced papers litter the walkways. No black scuff marks mar the floors.
By several accounts, that’s how it has been since Queen began working at the school more than 37 years ago. He was still in high school when he started working part-time for county schools to make some extra cash. He learned he liked working with his hands.
He’s been there ever since.
“I just like it here,” he said. “I’ve had opportunities for other jobs but I just say, `No, thanks.’ ”
Queen has been at Four Seasons through the tenures of seven principals. He said he has met thousands of students and their families. He has been there though every repair such as the ongoing closures of open-space classrooms at the school. He has received the countywide “Employee of the Month” recognition by the Board of Education twice and has been recognized for energy savings efforts.
Earlier this year, he was awarded the Silver Hammer Award, which recognizes schools with superior maintenance that results in savings of taxpayer funds.
More than that, he has become one of those adults in the school system who play a vital role in the lives of children without having a direct role in the education process.
“He’s a very familiar face. The children all know him. The parents all know him. He’s always got a smile on his face when he walks down the hall,” said secretary Diana Clutz. “It’s more than just a job for him.”
He’s such a familiar face that former students who now have children in the school tell them to “Say hello to Mr. Louis.” He said he likes asking students about their interests and goals. In some of his free time he swings by sporting events to check out youngsters’ games.
One former student who keeps up with Queen is County Councilman Jamie Benoit who thinks Four Seasons Elementary ought to be named after Queen after all his years of service.
“He’s the embodiment to me of all good things going on in the school system and all the people who work there,” he said.
Benoit recalled one afternoon when he was an playing sports with his friends as an elementary school student, and they lost their ball on the roof of the school. While the boys devised a plan to figure out a way to climb atop the roof since the school was closed for summer, Queen appeared at the door with the ball in hand and a smile on his face from watching the boys try to solve their dilemma.
He probably didn’t have to work those summer hours, but also seemed to be at the school trying to get something done, Benoit said.
That’s the kind of work ethic Queen shows the kids, said Chris Baran, a reading teacher at the school. “I think he treats the school like his own home. It’s immaculate,” Baran said. “He has a sense of pride in it and involves all of us in the care of the school.”
But he just credited the custodial staff, as well as teachers pitching in, for the appearance of the building.
“If someone asks for my help, I try to do what’s needed,” he said.
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)