Strength from students

Custodian Emmit Payne continues to work in district after 15 years


Sydney Stout

“Emmit has had the opportunity to work at other places, but this district is different. He feels that the community is filled with love.”

Operations staff member Emmit Payne starts work almost every morning at 5:30 a.m. by preparing for the day ahead. Students won’t arrive for at least another two hours, but work must begin. After working at the district for 15 years, it’s routine to him. 

To get through a normal day of repairing and cleaning the school, he looks to the students. They are his motivation. They bring him his energy and keep his spirits high. 

“I’d say those were the fun times interacting with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders,” Payne said.

When he first started working at Lovejoy Elementary all those years ago, it was his first time working in a school. Interacting with the younger kids brought something new and exciting almost every day. The students made his days stand out.

Looking back, he is able to remember a time during his first few years of work at the elementary school around 2007 that stood out to him. The environment that the students were learning in was old and tarnished, and the kids were not able to enjoy the school atmosphere. He and his colleagues knew that they had to make a change quickly. 

The walls had been cracking, and the building overall was seemingly falling apart. Rebuilding it would take too long, so the school district decided to renovate.

They were working hard to repair the walls and overall structure of the school, but they made sure to find little things that could make the work enjoyable such as tearing apart the brittle wall. It was a long process.

It was worth it for them because they knew they were doing it for the kids. The looks on the kids faces when the renovations were finally done made it worth it. The school still had it’s original style, but the improvements to the structure of the classrooms, big or small, made a huge difference in the overall atmosphere.

Payne has had the opportunity to work at other places, but this district is different. He feels that the community is filled with love. The people, staff and students alike, care for you.

Now, as he is working at the high school, his motivation remains the same. Smiles don’t seem to get old. As students walk into school every morning, he is reminded of why he does what he does.