Roosevelt Hutchinson’s work ethic is shaped by something his father told him when he was a child.
“He said there’s always someone out there who wants to work, can work and will work, and if you’re going to sit there in a job and do nothing, move out of the way and let that person do it,” said Hutchinson. “I kept that in me, and it’s still in me.”
A strong commitment to his job is one of the main reasons Hutchinson, a custodian at Shell Elementary School in Hawthorne, has been selected as Alachua County Public Schools’ 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year. He will now represent the district in the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program.
“Roosevelt is very deserving of this recognition,” said Superintendent Karen Clarke, who stopped by the school recently to bring him the news of his selection. “He has dedicated so much of his life to creating a positive environment for the students and staff at this school.”
Hutchinson began working at Shell in 1970, eventually working his way up to head custodian. After 32 years at the school he retired to care for his ailing wife. When she passed, he was at loose ends. Then he got the call asking him to come back to work, at least on a part-time basis. Altogether he’s been keeping the school neat and clean for 43 years.
“When I was here the first time, I enjoyed my work, I took pride in what I did, and I came back with the same motive,” said Hutchinson. “I know these kids need a clean and safe place to learn, so I have to do a good job.”
Mr. Hutch, as he’s known at the school, has seen a lot of changes in his time. He’s been through nine principals, and says he got along with every one of them because of the positive attitude he brought to his work and his relationships with others.
“His commitment to Shell Elementary is evident in his job performance and positive attitude,” said Holly Burton, Shell’s principal. “He is a kind and humble individual and displays the character attributes we all aim to model for our students.”
And are the students any different now than they were then?
“I see kids now as kids,” he said. “They’re always gonna be kids. What makes a difference is how you handle yourself with them. You have to love them and love all people.”
In his spare time, Hutchinson is active in his church, Gordon Chapel Community Church just outside Hawthorne. That includes teaching Bible study and Sunday School classes. He says he is determined to live his life by the lessons he teaches, including the Bible’s admonition to “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works.”
“My thing is that I can’t just let my light shine at church, that would be hiding it under a bushel,” he said. “I have to live that life here on the job, in the supermarket, walking down the street, where ever I go.”
Hutchinson will be one of 46 school district employees recognized at the annual Alachua County School-Related Employee of the Year ceremony in early May. Through donations from businesses and individuals in the community, each of those employees were presented with an awards check. Anyone interested in contributing can do so through The Education Foundation at edfoundationac.org. Be sure to indicate the donation is for the School-Related Employee Recognition Program.