A Happy, Heartwarming ‘Vern Day’ for One School’s Custodian

April 06, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

When did you hear your last heartwarming story about a beloved school custodian? It’s been awhile, but I’ll remember this story for some time …

Highlands Elementary students honor custodian with 'Vern Day'

Like a king carrying his scepter, (Vern) Ratchman doled out high-fives, autographs and hugs as 700 members of the Highlands/Odyssey school community lined the hallways, raised marshmallow-topped pretzel sticks in salute and chanted “Stick with Vern.”

“Vern is that special to us,” said Principal Val Dreier of the celebration. “He's a remarkable presence here and has made such an enormous difference in the climate of our school. Instead of being that silent person who cleans up after people, he greets us and recognizes how important relationships are with staff, students and parents.”

Ratchman not only keeps the building looking spick and span, but also has become a big part of its culture…

“He's a great role model, takes pride in his work and you can always count on him for a positive attitude,” Dreier said. “He makes it clear he loves the school and the people in it. He brings out the best in us.”

In all the discussions about keeping kids healthy and safe, we need to remember that school custodians aren't just the guys who mop the floor — they are an integral part of keeping our kids healthy. 

Congratulations, Vern! Not only do we need more people like you, but we need more schools like Highland Elementary that recognize the special and important work that our custodians do every day.