Christmas is a time for stories and here is one our BCACS staff shared with me.

Shortly before Christmas break, the staff of the St. Joseph Elementary School found a surprise on their desk in the morning – a large gourmet candy cane lollipop.

It wasn’t just one grade or certain teachers – everyone had one. Not knowing whom to thank, the staff started to email each other for answers. No one knew.

Giant lollipops are sure to attract young eyeballs. Soon the students were aware of the staff’ quest to know who gave the sweet treats. A few of the younger ones thought it must be Santa Claus, as leaving gifts in the night without a note is his calling card. Other students thought someone else fit that description – the school’s custodian Mike Gagnon.

Mr. Gagnon has been with the BCACS for many years, starting at St. Philip High School before moving to St. Joseph Elementary School.

“Mike is a soft-spoken, friendly but quiet guy,” Cathy Erskine, BCACS enrollment manager, said. “He’s super-conscientious of the quality of his work and always willing to lend an extra hand whenever needed.”

“Our students think the world of him,” Jeanine Winkler, St. Joseph Elementary administrative assistant, said. “While other schools might consider his job to been done by someone invisible, our students consider him often throughout their day. He is on our prayer lists, they send him ‘I am Thankful for You’ cards at Thanksgiving, and there is always a ‘hello’ in the hallway and a ‘thank you’ when he unsticks a stuck locker.”

Turns out the kids were right. Mr. Gagnon was the staff’s secret Santa.

“When I thanked him, his response was, ‘I am just glad that I able to do something like that for you guys,’” Ms. Winkler said, noting his “humble quietness” before he returned to his work.

This story warmed my heart.

I have met Mr. Gagnon many times over the years, usually when picking up a kid’s project after school or dropping a kid off at the gym for basketball practice. He silently sweeps the floors and tidies the chairs, stopping only to ask if I need anything. A few times he opened a gate or a door when one of my kids “forgot” an important assignment.

I can imagine him cleaning the classrooms and the offices of our BCACS staff and leaving the simple Christmas gifts without a note or fanfare before turning off the lights and shutting the doors.

The custodian may be invisible in some schools, but not here. Our kids appreciate Mr. Gagnon and his work. More importantly, they could connect the dots between this simple gift and the humble man who gave it.

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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131