Deaf Custodian Decorates Arkansas School for Christmas

Newark Elementary Custodian Fills School with Christmas Spirit

NEWARK, Ark. - With keys hanging from his hip, Heath Wilson is locked in to keeping Newark Elementary clean.

"Mr. Heath has been our custodian for a number of years," Kathy Magness, principal of the school, says.

As you might imagine, being a custodian comes with commotion; kids chattering, trash bags opening and chairs clanging.

But, all Mr. Heath hears is silence.

"He is deaf," Magness says.

While Mr. Heath is surrounded by silence, what he creates to surround his students doesn't have to be heard.

"He decided he wanted to do some decorating," Magness says.

About this time every year, the cafeteria walls disappear behind Christmas.

 "Santa, a snowman, a penguin and an elf," Slayton, a 1st-grader, says.

Mr. Heath spends his Thanksgiving vacation sprinkling some holiday spirit into the very school he went to as a kindergartner.

"He's really devoted to this school," Magness says.

"And, I always have offered to help and he says, 'No, I want to do it.'"

Kids see it when they return on Monday morning after Thanksgiving.

"Some of the kids are poor," Mr. Heath says.

"They don't have a Christmas. They come and look so happy."

Mr. Heath can speak sign language but prefers to read lips.

His bag isn't full of toys.

And, his sleigh looks more like a trash can.

But make no mistake about it, this santa dressed as a custodian delivers smiles that speak volumes.

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