Upon their return from winter break, the teachers and students of Philip W. Sugg (PWS) Middle School in Lisbon learned that their night custodian was going to be out for an extended period of time, along with two other night custodians at the district’s elementary school, who were also going to be out. This left the district with a skeletal crew that was struggling just to keep up with their regular cleaning schedules.
“I’m very well aware that middle schoolers are perhaps the most misunderstood humans on the planet,” said Nicole Sautter PWS 7th grade teacher and 2020 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year. “I knew this could very well be an opportunity for them that would not only allow others to see who they truly are, but also provide them a much-needed purpose in their life that would bring them a sense of power in a tumultuous time – and that is how the PWS Cleaning Crew came to be.”
Since early January, PWS Middle schoolers have stepped up and volunteered their time after school to keep the building clean: trash removal, recycling, vacuuming, sweeping classrooms and hallways while some staff clean bathrooms and refill toiletries, among other things.
Here is their story:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created many unanticipated challenges for the Lisbon students and staff over the last two years,” said Richard Green, Lisbon School Department Superintendent. “It has been my observation that the students and staff within the Lisbon School Department have always faced and addressed these challenges with a real determination and effort that is unlike anything that I have ever seen. The effort from the Philip W. Sugg Middle School (PWS) students and staff to help coordinate the cleaning efforts within their school as a result of staffing shortages, is a perfect example of this dedication.”
Sautter adds that it’s refreshing to see middle schoolers excited about making a difference. They’re internally motivated and have shown a solid understanding of what it means to be an involved citizen.
“I’m so grateful for these kids. There’s no way we could cover this school without their help,” said Mike Powell, Lisbon Schools Department Custodian/Bus Driver/Maintenance.
“On behalf of the Lisbon School Department, I would like to commend and thank all of the PWS students and staff who have gone above and beyond to help keep their school clean and safe during these unprecedented times,” added Superintendent Green.