Bob Gettman, Educare of Seattle’s, Ambassador of Kindness, retired last month. He stamped our school with an indelible example of the profound impact one person can make when they take an extra minute or two to be helpful, friendly and thoughtful.
Bob was part of the original Educare of Seattle team that opened its’ doors nearly seven years ago. He worked in Facilities, doing a little bit of everything including maintaining the grounds, putting together classroom furniture, fixing fussy toilets, setting up meeting rooms, and collecting the garbage from classrooms after rest time every day.
The mundane, non-glamorous work of collecting garbage became a special event in classrooms. One classroom even added “Bob” to their daily schedule. Children cried with excitement when Bob and his big black garbage bin came trundling into the classroom. He always greeted them with a smile. And I mean always. He would bend to meet a little girl in the eye and say “Oh, hello there young lady.” When a little boy proudly showed him a drawing he would give a big smile and offer “Oh, would you look at that!”
I’m sure Bob must have had days when he felt grumpy or discouraged. But he never showed it. And I mean never. I’m sure there must have been times when he felt the pressure of a long to-do list but every time he saw someone walking down a hallway and he had the opportunity to hold the door for them he took it. And I mean every time. Even if the person was thirty yards away he would patiently wait for them. And this simple act caught on. Thanks to Bob’s example holding doors for people is now an ingrained part of our school’s culture.
Bob’s kindness was felt by the children, their families and the staff.
An Educare parent says “Many mornings when we arrived at school we would see him working hard outside. My kids were always excited to see him as he would stop his work to greet them and chat for a bit. They called him ‘Bob the Builder’ and would sing ‘Can he fix it? Yes, he can’ It was always a really nice way to start the day.”
A Family Advocate adds “I hear from a lot of parents, that when something breaks at home, our kids immediately say ‘Call Bob!’ “
A Mentor Teacher notes “For me the stand out thing about Bob was that he would walk into the room and if one of his biggest fans was on the changing table he would stop and talk to them. One time he even stood through the whole diaper changing holding an unhappy child’s hand until he was all cleaned up. Just patiently waiting until the child didn’t need him anymore and then he went about his business. He gave high fives to everyone and had a way of charming even the most suspicious little ones.”
And finally an infant/toddler teacher recalls “My story is about the only little girl in my class. She was so afraid of all men who came into our room including Bob. Knowing this, Bob went out of his way to make sure she was in an area of the room where she wouldn’t see him or was with another staff member reassuring her. One day he offered her a fist bump and that was all it took. She was a Bob fan after that. I believe that her first word and the first word of many others in my room was “Bob”. He will be missed!”
Bob, our Ambassador of Kindness, will indeed be missed.
His example was as steady as ocean waves lapping the shore. Day after day, he showed all of us at Educare of Seattle what simple moments of goodness can mean to people, and to a school.