School: Willard Elementary School
School District: Des Moines Public Schools
City, State: Des Moines, Iowa
About the Nominee: Tom Ritchie was nominated by a colleague, Denise Weston. Mr. Ritchie is a LifeChanger in his community for so many reasons. His nominator, Ms. Weston, states that he has been a custodian since she began teaching at the school five years ago. There are certain people who might not understand the work that a custodian does every day, but Ms. Weston is not one of those people. Every day, Willard Elementary is one of the two schools in Des Moines Public Schools where Mr. Ritchie goes to work with a smile on his face. He offers a kind word and a listening ear to everyone, and he goes out of his way to help others.
For example, Mr. Ritchie is typically in charge of cleaning the 2nd floor of Willard Elementary's 3-story building. Ms. Weston's classroom is on the 3rd floor. A few months ago, when Ms. Weston was leaving for the day, she mentioned to Mr. Ritchie that she misplaced her glasses. She was certain they were in her classroom, but she asked Mr. Ritchie to put them in the office if he happened to find them. When she returned to school the following day, all of her students' chairs were up on the tables, and her carpet had been vacuumed. As it turned out, Mr. Ritchie stopped by her classroom the night before to see if he could find her glasses laying around her room. He didn't find them, but he noticed that the carpet needed vacuuming, so he put the chairs up and cleaned the floor! He went out of his way just because he felt it was the right thing to do.
This example is only one of many acts of kindness that Mr. Ritchie is known for. If he sees something that needs to be done, he does it, not for recognition, but because he believes that teachers work hard enough. Mr. Ritchie works extra hard and can always be found going above and beyond the job description.
Mr. Ritchie cares deeply about the staff and students where he works, and it shows in his words and actions. He takes pride in doing a job well done. Every day, he provides students with a clean and organized place to begin a new day of learning. He might not think it's a very big deal, but for the students who do not have the opportunity to see or experience this in their home life, it is a very big deal.
Mr. Ritchie is a LifeChanger because of the hard work and dedication he puts into his school and district. He is well known for taking time out of his busy schedule to brighten the day of others with kind words, a smile and lending a helping hand without being asked.