After a full first career in sales, I couldn’t have imagined I would land a second one in the educational system.
When I began my employment with Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) at Smithsburg High School in 2010, it didn’t take long to find a place in this special community. My 10 years of coaching youth baseball and football prepared me for interactions with our students, so when I started at Smithsburg Middle School, I knew it was important to connect with students. Yes, I would keep their school safe and clean, but if they were having a tough day, I wanted them to know they could count on me for a positive spin on any situation.
In 2012, I was promoted to custodial engineer at Smithsburg Middle School. Beginning and ending my day by making sure every student gets into and out of the building safely, conversing with parents, greeting family pets during drop off, and directing school traffic is a great way to start and end the day. Our bus drivers and I are usually the first school employees our students see in the morning. It’s important that they see a friendly smiling face and know we are interested in them and their success.
Every student is my #1 priority. Being a mentor to them is a great part of my job—that neutral person students sometimes need allows them to calm down after a stressful situation or day. Students come to me for help daily and I will always do what I can—from broken sandals, bracelets, shoe mishaps, and jammed lockers, to recovering retainers in the lunch trash (I am 18 for 18!). It always puts a smile on my face when former students yell, “hey, Mr. Twigg!” or when the 8th grade class dedicates the entire year to me.
When I started my career with WCPS, I knew I needed the security and voice that our union provides behind me. Our union has been very diligent in standing up for us, but nonetheless we have lost good custodians. Amazon has come to town and that pay is very attractive to many folks. I’ve been working 11, 12, and 13-hour days for four months because we haven’t had any help.
I will always be a positive role model, give a high five, or hold up the after-school pickup line for a forgotten phone. Young people know when someone cares about them and this assures me that I’m doing my job well, every day.