With a broom in one hand and a mop in the other, Gabe Belberena goes to work in the Tiger Paw Café at Taylorsville Elementary School. First, he sweeps. Then, he mops.
“And if there’s someone who can’t open their milk carton, I’m there, too, helping them,” said Gabe.
This routine continues every day from 7:30 a.m. until the shrill sound of the morning bell signals it is time to stop.
“Unfortunately, I have to stop and go to class,” added Gabe.
That is right, Gabe is not a custodian, he is a fifth-grade student! For the last two months, Gabe has made this his morning routine.
“Sometimes, when I feel like sleeping in, I think about cleaning, and that helps me get up and start the day,” said Gabe.
But it is not the love of cleaning that has Gabe jumping out of bed every morning, it is helping others.
“I have never seen this in all my years of working in a school building,” said TES Assistant Principal Kevin Muldoon. “Students, especially students his age, use the time before school starts to socialize with their friends, but not Gabe.”
“I just want to help our custodian, Ms. Mary,” added Gabe. “She works so hard, and the breakfast area can get dirty quick with the younger kids eating. Also, some kids are so disrespectful and don’t clean up after themselves.”
“I was so shocked,” said Lead Custodian Mary Alfaro. “I’m also proud. Other kids can learn from him.”
That is exactly what is happening. Students, as young as five years old, are taking notice and helping Gabe in the mornings.
“At TES, we all strive daily to live out our acronym of ROAR (Respectful, On-Task, Awesome Attitude, and Responsible),” added Muldoon. “Gabe exemplifies these characteristics both in the classroom and out. He has a good heart, cares deeply for people, and is a diligent worker. We are proud of the young man Gabe is becoming.”
Gabe, as forward-thinking as he is, already lined up a couple successors for when he moves on to middle school next year.
“If someone needs help, you should help them,” added Gabe. "That's what life is about."
Kindness caught on camera and proof lessons are not always taught in the classroom.