This week our school family celebrates the many years of service of Custodian Raphael Charles. Mr. Charles, as he is known in our halls, will be retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
When CEO and Founder, Rev. Dr. Mullings approached Mr. Charles about a job, Challenge Preparatory Charter School was meeting at Golden Maple Elementary while the building at 710 Hartman was being remodeled. When the property at Hartman was ready, the basement and first floor were used for Kindergarten and First Grade.
“When we moved into the new building, it was challenging and there was a lot of work. Mr. Morris and I were the crew at that time. I typically arrived at 6:00am and left about 6 or 7 at night,” Mr. Charles recalled.
Ms. Ward-Brew remembered what it was like then and shared, “In the early days of Challenge Prep, I used to close out the building with the custodial staff. Everytime Mr. Charles would pass by my classroom, he would scold me and tell me to go home, and I would smile and tell him that I had work to do. He would walk away grumbling and mumbling in classic Mr. Charles style. He continued to scold and lecture me as we left the building. You see, Mr. Charles knew I had a 2-hour commute ahead of me, and he was concerned. Mr. Charles can scold, lecture, and make you smile at the same time, because you know he cares!”
The work continued as the school expanded. Mr. Charles became a regular “fixture” as grades were added. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Charles came to the U.S. in 1987. He visits his brother, cousins and friends there every couple of years, but he hasn’t made any long-term plans for retirement.
When asked what he will miss the most about being here every day, Mr. Charles replied, “Seeing the kids. Challenge is all about the kids, and I see the teachers doing a great job with these kids. I know that school is going to be taken care of. I know that there are good people that will come and fill my shoes.”
On Friday, February 9th a dinner and celebration will be held at 5:30 PM to express heartfelt thanks for Mr. Charles’ dedication and hard work. Teachers and staff are encouraged to attend the celebration which will be held at 710 Hartman Lane in the gym.
“We will miss Mr. Charles greatly at Challenge Prep. He went beyond his work to show compassion and concern for our students, and I appreciate his many years with us,” Dr. Mullings stated. “We wish him all the best in his retirement.”