Timeline Cleanse: Maryland Custodian Marks 50 Years at the Same Elementary School — and 'He Looks the Same'! | lovebscott.com

Timeline Cleanse: Maryland Custodian Marks 50 Years at the Same Elementary School — and ‘He Looks the Same’!

Here’s a story that will cleanse your timeline and make you smile at the same time courtesy of PEOPLE.

Louis Queen has seen generations of students walk through the hallways of Four Seasons Elementary School.

Louis Queen, a longtime and beloved custodian at Four Seasons Elementary School in Gambrills, Maryland, couldn’t have imagined that he would still be working the same job at the same place after 50 years.

“My dad did 33 [years of service] for the county,” he tells PEOPLE, “and I said, ‘I’ll never work that long at one place.’ I ended up [surpassing] him.”

Known affectionately as Mr. Louis by Four Seasons students and faculty, Queen, 69, has spent nearly his entire life keeping the school in tip-top shape. It’s the community, especially the kids, who make this chief custodian reluctant to work at any place else.

“I have fun at lunch with them and meeting all the different teachers that came through and the principals,” says Queen, a father of two and grandfather of seven. “And I’ve been lucky. That’s why I never moved. I had a chance to move up to another department, but I’d just rather stay here. It makes me feel good, and I enjoy working with everybody here.”

Queen’s special relationship with Four Seasons began when, around the age of 17, he took part in a program in which high school students could work full time during the summer. A principal he had previously worked under transferred to Four Seasons.

“I came down for the interview and she hired me,” he recalls. “I’ve been here ever since.”

As chief custodian, Queen’s main duty is ensuring that the school is properly maintained. “When I first come in,” he says, “I walk around and check everything, make sure things are good for the kids to come in. And then through the day, there’s a lot of stuff. There’s always something to do. You can’t say, ‘Well, I ain’t got nothing to do.’ ”

“He takes pride in the building,” Four Seasons Elementary principal Regina Passwaters tells PEOPLE. “I often say, ‘This is our home. And Mr. Louis treats it that way.’ The building will be 50 years old as well, so when you walk in the building, it doesn’t look like a 50-year-old building because you have a chief custodian who has high expectations.”

She adds: “Staff treats it that way, students treat it that way. The halls shine, not a cobweb to be found. It makes a difference when you have someone who treats it like a home and therefore everyone else treats it like a home.”

During those 50 years, Queen has witnessed generations of students walk through Four Seasons’ hallways.

“He is truly one of a kind,” adds Passwaters. ”Students are more excited to interact with Mr. Louis than I think anybody in the school building. He has dance parties during lunch. He greets students in the morning, high fives. They have special handshakes and kids have nicknames. I think he is probably the most popular staff member we have.”

“I truly enjoy watching students interact with Mr. Louis all day long,” she continues. “I mean, he goes into classrooms to sit and read with students. It just makes a difference.”

On April 15, the school honored Mr. Louis with a tribute marking his 50 years of service. In addition to the students and current staff, a number of Four Seasons’ former principals attended. The celebration could be traced to Passwaters’ curiosity about how long Queen had worked in the school.

“When you first meet him, you know he’s one of a kind,” she says. “I was like, ‘I wonder how many years he’s been here.’ We had human resources do a little investigative work on him since I knew he wasn’t going to tell me all the details. And so we were really able to dig deep into how long he had been… I knew he had been a staple in this community.”

Modest by nature, Queen had an inkling that something special was in store as the kids were trying to keep the tribute as a surprise. “I came in that morning and said, ‘Well, the doors are not open or anything. They must going to do something in the classroom,’ but no,” he says of that special day. “Then they came and said, ‘Louis, we need the door open.’ I said, ‘Oh.’ And I started getting jittery. I said, ‘Here it comes.’ ”

He was touched by even former principals attending the celebration for him. “I’ve been really lucky with the people I’ve been working with for 50 years,” he says. “That makes a big difference when they support you.”

That same day, Queen received an award from the Central Maryland Chamber, which honored “the outstanding accomplishments of the Central Maryland Region’s most dedicated civil servants and chamber members/volunteers.”

Queen’s 50 years at Four Seasons raises the inevitable question of when he may retire, which he doesn’t see in his future yet. It is also a subject that Passwaters doesn’t want to think about.

“He’s got a lot left in him,” she says. “That’s what I can say. He’s got a lot of… When we went back and looked at pictures, he looks the same, his work ethic is the same, so we don’t discuss retirement.”

As for what motivates him 50 years in, Queen says: “When I come in the morning to see the people, it just makes me feel good. And they all speak to you and have something nice to say all the time, mostly. That’s what I enjoy.”


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