Posted: November 25, 2019
By Marilyn Boerke
I talked with Gabriel Basich, the day custodian at Liberty Middle School, about the characters in his story. The “characters” pictured here were among many wanting to be seen as part of the day’s chapter. Gabe is among the strong team of maintenance and operations staff who provide our scholars a warm, clean, and safe learning environment.
How do you get to know the students?
From the first day Gabe joined the Liberty team, he was known as a “kid magnet” who plays basketball with students during their lunch periods and sings enthusiastically throughout the halls during his shift. Gabe stated he connects with students “as humans at the beginning of their great life adventure. I talk them about their day and ask if they need any support, like a hive five or encouragement.” As a member of the Liberty staff, Gabe has embraced Character Strong practices, and seeks to connect with students daily in a friendly and welcoming manner.
What have you learned about the students so far? What surprised you?
Gabe was surprised to learn that “our kids have great hidden character traits when they aren’t embarrassed to show it to our Liberty community.” He added that when staff members, including office staff and teachers, give him support with the kids, he can then have quality conversations about how to make the characters in the school thrive.
How do you utilize the relationships you build with the students to support their learning?
Gabe is always willing to work with students to refocus them if they have encountered a struggle. Through his relationships and support of students he knows well and students he notices just need someone to acknowledge them, he acts through a greeting or high five. He has identified specific students that need that extra attention and intentionally seeks them out in a casual way, because he knows that students who feel safe and seen are able to learn. He added that through coaching sports and “lots of good professional relationships with the teachers,” he has developed good rapport with the kids. He stated that through that rapport, he “can then give them advice to go talk to a staff member who will get them more help and success throughout their day.”
Gabe identified the entire Liberty staff as his team, stating, “I use every person in our building for good information and support. Just about all our staff members at one time or another have been a vital member of my team. My team is my joy every morning to get to work with such a committed and wonderful staff.”
Who is YOUR team? How do you get to know them? What supports do they provide you?