For 58 years, “Mr. Peanuts” has made difference on the land his family once farmed
CROSS PLAINS, Wis. (WMTV) - Long-time custodian at Park Elementary School, Rodney “Mr. Peanuts” Esser is one of ten finalists in the 2023 Cintas Custodian of the Year contest, but for Esser, the job is about more than cleaning up.
For 58 years Mr. Peanuts has been cleaning the halls of the school and making friends along the way.
“Other than maintain the building, the grounds, and all that, it goes way beyond that. It’s being a friend and being helpful to not only staff but to students, and that’s something I’m pretty proud of,” Esser said.
Esser said he didn’t even apply to the position; his family used to farm on the land where the school was built and the owners would not sell the land to the district, unless Esser went too.
“Just like that I have to change jobs and so I ended up… this is where I ended up, but I still consider it home you know. Once a farmer always a farmer.”
Third grader Vaughn Stopczynski came to the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District from another district, and the transition was tough, until he met Mr. Peanuts.
“Well, when I first came to Park School I didn’t know a lot about this, but now I know a lot about Park School and like a lot of friends now and a lot of people here, probably more people than my old school,” Stopczynski said. “And sometimes I help him with the cafeteria and stuff.”
Vaughn even learned how to work the Zamboni.
“Just thought it was a cool machine. Or probably because I wanted to help Mr. Peanuts.”
At 82-years-old, Esser has no plans on leaving Park Elementary.
“Many people have asked this question- when you think you’ll retire? That’s God’s plan, I have no idea. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing and working for the people that I’m working for. Now I’m working for the best of the best. I say that from my heart. And so that I’m very proud of.”
To vote for Custodian of the Year, visit https://www.custodianoftheyear.com/custodian-of-the-year/. The winner will receive $10,000 cash, $5,000 in Cintas and Rubbermaid products and training valued up to $30,000. The Top 3 finalists will also win an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas.
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