People: Diane Pike

February 02, 2004|HERB BROCK

Diane Pike has done more than clean floors during her 23 years at Hogsett Elementary School. She's collected a bucket full of "wonderful memories."

"I know I'm just a custodian, but while mopping and cleaning, I've gotten to meet and know and watch grow up a lot of great kids and work with a lot of great teachers. I've built up a lot of wonderful memories," she said, rattling off name after name of particularly memorable students, teachers and principals.

Judging from the way children and teachers wave to her and warmly call her name in the hallways, the affection she feels for the students and teachers is reciprocated. She apparently has built up a lot of good memories for their mental scrapbooks as well.

"It really is like a family here, the teachers, the staff and the principal, the cafeteria ladies and us two custodians," said Pike, who works with fellow custodian Harry Hazlett. "And we all love the kids. We all live for the kids and their well-being."


That "well-being" not only incudes the students' performance in the classroom. From Pike's perspective, it also includes their physical, emotional and mental conditions.

"When they get sick, I have to clean up their little messes. But I also talk to them and try to comfort them," she said. "And when they're sad, I try to find out what's wrong and let them know I'm here for them to have a shoulder to cry on. It really affects me when I see a child cry. I worry about them, but I want to be strong and comforting for them.

"Sure, we all have jobs to do and have roles to do as custodians, teachers and staff people. And we insist that the children behave and do as well as they can on their tests. But we also baby our kids here. We know they have parents who love them, but we want (the parents) to know that their kids are loved while they are with us every day."

Pike is at Hogsett every school day from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. She opens the school and cleans and mops classrooms, bathrooms and the cafeteria, which is her focal point.

"I don't mind getting up early. I get a head start on my work, and I also can get a lot of it done without getting in the way of the teachers and staff," she said.

Pike was born in Campbellsville and grew up in Gravel Switch. She attended Boyle County schools, then left school to work.

"I worked in a factory and did some babysitting," she said.

Then in 1980, when Pike was 26, she landed the job at Hogsett that became her career, and during the last nearly quarter of century of service at Hogsett, she has worked for five principals: Cecil Sims, Jane Boyd, Sandy Embree, Dick Webb and now Rebecca Goode.

"I've enjoyed working for every one of the five principals. They've all made it a great place to work," she said.

Home isn't such a bad place to be, either, said Pike, adding that she still has enough energy to clean her own house after taking care of a much bigger building.

She also has had enough love left over from working with and caring for 300 or so teachers, staff and children to spend on her husband, Billy, a construction worker, and their daughter, Melissa Elder, now married with her own child.

Pike doesn't plan to retire soon, but when she does, she has already decided how she will spend her new life. She wants to decorate for weddings, parties and other special events.

"I enjoy decorating my own home. I'd like to take classes and learn how to decorate churches and halls for special events," she said.

But even if she's busy in her second career, she will never forget her first, or the people who have been in it, especially the little ones.

"One of the kids wrote the most wonderful tribute to me in an article that appeared in the (Advocate) several years ago," said Pike. "And I often run into kids that now are all grown up and they remember me, call my name and say nice things about me. I remember them, too. All the great memories have made all the mopping worthwhile."

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