School custodian wins national award for helping kids

Charles Clark
Charles Clark

Sometimes a nice little story is just the ticket, and here’s one: A custodian at a Texas high school won the national LifeChanger of the Year award for his efforts to help and mentor students.

Charles Clark, head custodian at Trinity High School in Euless, Tex., was tapped as the national grand prize winner in the 2012-13 national LifeChanger of the Year contest. He beat more than 400 other people, including teachers, administrators and school district employees from 33 states, according to a release by the contest sponsors, the National Life Group, composed of financial service companies.

Clark, who has been working at Trinity for more than 24 years, was cited for his interactions with students — many of whom are being raised by single parents — that range from discussions about life to using his own money to buy them things that they need.

The application for Clark says this about him:

When he sees someone who is struggling and needs help, he reaches out and gives them the support and encouragement they need, even taking some of the kids in and fostering them himself. He tells them to make good decisions and not let anyone else define who they are. He holds the students to very high standards and shows them that he genuinely cares, and is not there just for a paycheck. As a result, the students don’t want to disappoint him, work hard and eventually succeed.

Clark, who wins $5,000 for himself and $5,000 for the school, was quoted as saying in a release on the award:

The most important thing is just talking to kids and getting them to understand what life is all about and to be responsible for themselves. What is rewarding is when they come back and tell me that something I said or did 17 or 18 years ago had a positive influence on their life.

The principal of Trinity, Mike Harris, was quoted in the release as saying:

He’s really made a difference in a lot of kids’ lives. He helps them see where he came from, what he’s become, that he has a positive attitude about life and that they can do that same thing as well, regardless of the circumstances they may be facing today.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · March 12, 2013