Submitted by Sonja Bailes, Public Relations Liaison for Bossier Schools
Even before Princeton head custodian Johnny “J.R.” Ruffin’s name could be announced during an assembly as the latest winner of Bossier Schools’ Gold Star employee award, the students began to excitedly point at him and yell his name.
You see, everyone at Princeton Elementary loves “Mr. J.R.” and for so many reasons. He has been at the school for 14 years and is as much a part of it as the bricks and mortar that hold the building together. But it is not his years there that have endeared him to the faculty, staff and student body. It is the love he shows to each of them.
Teacher Haley Mitchell nominated Ruffin for the Gold Star award, writing “He is always putting others first! This morning I came in to a warm, cozy classroom. He had gone to all the classrooms and turned the heat up for us. He fixes anything we ask for, most of the time before we even realize something is broken. I am so thankful to have him as our head custodian.”
Assistant Principal Andrea Spinney also nominated Ruffin, saying he is much more than a head custodian.
“He loves our campus, faculty and students. We have a very large campus with a lot of outside work; he is always meticulous about our school’s presentation, offering suggestions on how to improve it. He checks on our students and makes sure they are following the Princeton expectations, and he is always passing out our Princeton “BUCS” to the students.”
Spinney went on to explain how Mr. J.R. takes the time to get to know each student and follows up with certain ones to make sure they have what is needed to be successful in the classroom.
“During summer remediation, he can be found on the sidewalks cheering the students on as they enter to retake the LEAP. He lives near our campus and is ALWAYS willing to come let a teacher in, check on the school’s safety or anything else that is needed.”
Principal Nancy Devers echoed that sentiment.
“He’s always doing the extra things we need, even on his off time,” Devers said. She added, ”The main thing I appreciate is his positive attitude. He’s always cordial, agreeable and always willing to help not just me, but everybody.”
The camaraderie Ruffin has with everyone, parents included, is also unparalleled. The die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan laughed as he told of all the Saints paraphernalia they try to give him during football season.
“They’re always trying to convert me!” he laughed. “Shame on them. It ain’t gonna work.”
Now, he has his own star to match the Cowboy star he wears on his cap.