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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

A clean sweep: Kindergartener finds fun on job

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Sikeston Kindergarten Center custodian Donnie Ward follows 6-year-old Lane Williams' lead as they sweep the halls.
SIKESTON -- After-school chores have taken on a new meaning for kindergartner Lane Williams.

Ever since last summer, the 6-year-old has been earning wages helping clean the Sikeston Kindergarten Center after school. Lane's mother, Susan Williams, is a teacher at the Center so when she has to stay after school and work, Lane stays with her. Rather than sit and be bored, Lane decided to make use of his time -- helping the custodians.

"Well, it all started like this," Lane recalled. "It was summer and everybody was cleaning up and dumping trash into big barrels. I just helped take out the trash and then kept doing it every day."

Custodian Imogene Gaines' face lights up at the mention of Lane. She was one of the first people to show Lane the ropes around the school.

"He seemed real eager to help and to learn so I just showed him how to do what I do," said Gaines. "Well, of course, not everything, but I showed him how we sweep and mop," she added.

Lane's after school duties consist of sweeping, and sometimes mopping, approximately nine rooms. He even has a favorite two-wheel dolly he likes to push around and collect trash from classrooms.

Principal Vera Glueck was so impressed with Lane's work, she decided to put him on pay roll, paying him $1 a week. He's even received holiday bonuses, getting paid an extra $1 for Halloween and Christmas, he said.

The consensus among Lane's adult co-workers is pretty much the same -- he's very helpful.

"He's a good little worker," noted custodian Donnie Ward with a smile. "If he keeps it up in life, he'll have it made."

And Lane also does chores at home.

"He helps me mow and he's pretty good at it," said Lane's father, Tim Williams, who owns a lawn service.

Lane said he's saving the money he earns and not spending it yet. "My dad told me I had to save it for high school," Lane said.

Jason Ward, an afternoon custodian at the Center, said sometimes Lane brings little walkie-talkies for them to use. "He gives me one and then goes and cleans. Every time he gets something finished, he reports back to me through the walkie-talkies," explained Jason Ward.

Also, when Jason checks the doors (to make sure they're locked) each afternoon, Lane assists, too. If Jason goes west, Lane will go east and then Lane will communicate with Jason through the walkie-talkies until they meet in the middle, Jason explained.

Since Lane will be in the first grade next year, does it mean his job will come to an end? Not completely.

"I'll still ride the bus here after school, but some days I'll have to ride the bus to my grandma's," Lane said, adding "I'll still work when I ride the bus here."

It's a good thing, too, because the idea of Lane sticking around for awhile seems to settle well with the rest of the custodians.

Jason Ward smiled: "This job can get boring, but when Lane's here, it's something new every day."