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Woman’s 36-year career in school comes to end

Linda Taylor, who has been a custodian at Caroline High School for 36 years and is retiring at the end of this school year. / Photo by Scott Julian

Linda Taylor, who has been a custodian at Caroline High School for 36 years and is retiring at the end of this school year. / Photo by Scott Julian

For 36 years, Linda Taylor has called Caroline High her school and has taken care of it—literally.

But as head custodian, her concerns extended beyond the building. Teachers and students and their parents have consumed Taylor’s life.

Today is Taylor’s last at the school. The 66-year-old Bowling Green native is retiring.

She has watched students come in and out of the blue doors of the school every day since March 23, 1978.

Before that, the 1967 graduate of Union High School worked part-time jobs at Fort A.P. Hill. But when she got the opportunity to become a full-time custodian at the high school, she jumped at it.

“It was more money and I had a chance to get full-time work and benefits,” she said.

Since that first day on the job, she’s been coming to the high school at 6:10 each morning. She cleans the windows, mops the floors, cleans the cafeteria and keeps the building in good shape. At the end of the day, she locks the doors and turns out the lights.

But more than that, she’s become a trusted part of the high school community.

“I get along with everybody,” Taylor said. “The best are the kids. Every last one has the utmost respect for me.”

Neal Black, a teacher at the school for the past 16 years, said Taylor “will be missed upon missed upon missed.” But he’s happy for her.

“She’s earned it,” he said of her retirement, “to get out of here and enjoy life on her own dime and time.”

Principal Jeff Wick calls Taylor “an anchor” for the school.

“She knows everything—the ins and outs—and she’s been here longer than anybody,” Wick said. “She’s great with the kids, the staff, and builds a relationship with everybody. We’re going to miss her here.”

Taylor greets the students with hugs and kisses, and they can lean on her for advice.

“If a kid has problems, they could come to me. I love talking to kids,” she said.

In her time at the school, she’s even met the children of some of the students she first worked with.

Taylor has a driver’s license, but doesn’t drive. But not once in her 36 years has she missed a day of work because she was unable to get transportation—even in bad weather.

That’s a reflection of her commitment to her job, an attitude she also tried to instill in those who worked for her.

“If you don’t have pride in this job, there’s no need to take it,” she said. “You have to have pride and dedication.”

When Taylor’s colleagues at Caroline High heard she would retire this year, they started making plans to give her a special exit.

One of her co-workers overheard her say she had always dreamed of riding in a white limousine, so the staff raised the money to give her a surprise ride.

The day before the surprise, she was told to wear something nice for a photo to be taken of all the retirees. Taylor didn’t want to dirty her nice outfit while she was doing her cleaning duties, so she packed it to change into.

She said she was told to meet in the office about 11 a.m. After she changed, someone told her that the seniors had played a prank in front of the school and she needed to go clean it up.

Worried about missing the photo, but not wanting to neglect her duties, Taylor went outside to see what was going on.

“At first, I saw the limo, but I didn’t see it,” she said.

Then, Taylor said, her colleagues told her it was for her.

“I went into shock,” she said.

The limo took her and a friend from the school to Mimi’s for lunch and then drove her around until 2 p.m.

The limo was just the icing on the cake for Taylor. That night, she got to see her nephew graduate from Caroline High School, and the next day was her 66th birthday.

The school also presented her with a class ring, with her years of service and her birthstone in it.

“I thank God for it because he made it possible to get one of my wishes fulfilled,” she said.

Taylor says it will be difficult not seeing her friends at work, but she’s excited about retirement. She plans to rest and travel.

“I’m going to miss getting up in the morning and coming to work,” she said, “but I won’t miss coming in late because of the snow.”

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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