How Mr. Calvin’s smile is transforming a Chesterfield elementary school

Posted at 11:35 AM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-01 11:35:20-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- At J. G. Henning Elementary School in Chesterfield County, every morning starts the same. The only thing that breaks the silence of the school's empty halls is the sound of Head Custodian Calvin Lambert behind a floor buffer.

That is until school buses filled with children pull up. That’s when the fist-bumping, hugging, and words of encouragement start.

"Good morning!" Mr. Lambert booms to a tired looking 3rd grade student.

The student's frown turned instantly to a smile when he fist-bumped the much taller man with the big grin.

A similar scene plays out for the next 15 minutes.

"He’s just taken upon himself to start every day with a smile," principal Bruce Fillman said. "Whether that be staff or students, he’s greeting everybody."

Mr. Lambert said making the students smile is his way to make sure they have a great day.

"I got them to start saying 'good morning'.  Then I said, 'let me just go on and get a smile out of 'em too,'" he said.  "Let me see how many smiles I can get."

Mr. Calvin

Mr. Calvin

Teachers started seeing a change in the kids as soon as Mr. Lambert started at the school four years ago.

"When they get here to school they're probably a little stressed out," ESL teacher Bethany Dancey said. "He lowers that stress almost immediately."

If you know a student, teacher, or school staff member ho should be featured on Building Better Minds, email Rob Cardwell.

Building Better Minds airs Wednesdays on CBS 6 at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.