Leevon White likes to work with his hands.
“I have a little creativity in my hands,” he said.
White serves as the custodian and groundskeeper at Threadgill Elementary School, where he’s worked for almost 30 years.
“I started during the 1989-90 school year; I think it was in the middle of the school year,” he said.
He’s known to many by his nickname Mooney, but to the children at Threadgill Elementary, he’s known as Mr. White.
“It’s an interesting job to me because you meet different people every year,” White said.
Each year, there are new teachers, and the returning students come back a little bit more mature, he said. At the beginning of every school year, there’s also a new group of students attending Threadgill for the first time.
“Their eyes are big and looking around, kind of like ‘I’m scared,’” he said. “What are you scared about? Welcome to Threadgill. We welcome you with open arms. Come on in, and learn a little something.”
White, 53, said he was just looking for work when he first became interested in the job at Threadgill.
In his early 20s at the time, and after dealing with being laid off in the past, White knew he wanted job security at his next place of employment. “I told myself, ‘The next job I get, I’m going to keep it forever,’” he said. “So that was it. This is that job I’m going to keep forever.”
Now after three decades, being at Threadgill is more than a job to White; he takes pride in his work.
“Someone has to clean around for the kids,” he said. “It’s an enjoyable job. It’s calm and not stressful.”
White said his duties include “all of the necessities and everything that comes with cleaning up around a school facility.”
His favorite part, however, is keeping up the school grounds.
“I’m a hedge cutter,” he said. “I love yard work. I enjoy trimming the hedges and keeping the campus looking good.”
In his spare time, White is learning how to create bush and shrub art. “I’m trying to get it down pat to where I can do a sculpture,” he said.
White is a Greenwood native and resident. He attended Stone Street Elementary School and Greenwood High School.
He said he has always liked things orderly and neat. He learned that from his mother when he was a youngster.
“I grew up like that,” he said. “Mom stayed on you about ‘tuck your shirt in.’”
Outside school, students often recognize White.
“They see me if I’m at the grocery store, Walmart, anywhere they see me, and I’ll hear, ‘Mr. White,’” he said. “I heard a few of them say, ‘That’s Mr. White. He works at our school.’ They tickle me.”
White has seen three generations come through Threadgill Elementary.
“Some of the first students who were here when I started, their kids have come through and gone on and graduated, and now their kids are coming,” he said.
White cares about the students who attend Threadgill. Although he doesn’t have children of his own, during the school year “all the kids, the whole 700 or so, or however many we got, that’s how many I’ve got.”
He said he hopes to see this generation of children grow and prosper.
“This is that generation of kids that we want to for sure enough be on point on getting that education and doing the right thing, because now it is getting so bad out there in the world,” White said. “I hope and pray all the kids coming into the new generation respect and show better care for others and help one another as opposed to fighting and being violent toward each other. They can learn a lot from each other.”
•Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.