Cecil Elementary School custodian provides $7,200 for computer equipment

| Friday, March 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Thumping behind Lew Crouse's aw-shucks personality and humble disposition is a giving heart, one with a direct line to his wallet.

Crouse, a custodian at Cecil Elementary School in Washington County, provided $7,200 for the school to buy computer equipment for its 240 students from kindergarten through fourth grade.

“I'm not comfortable being in the spotlight,” said Crouse, 53, deflecting attention. “We wanted to stay anonymous, but it leaked out. They had to give me a receipt, so I guess that's how word got out.”

Crouse has worked in Canon-McMillan School District for 15 years, including 10 at Cecil Elementary.

He retired from a second job with McGuffey School District in 2012, having worked a night shift as a custodian there for 12 years. He runs a 200-acre farm in Graysville, Greene County, where he raises sheep and hogs.

The door-to-door trip from farm to school is 38 miles. Crouse drives it daily, arriving in Cecil by 7 a.m. to unlock the building and set up for breakfast before busying himself mopping floors, collecting garbage or sanitizing door knobs to try to keep students from getting sick.

“He knows the kids by name; he knows their birthdays,” said Principal Tula Dziak. “He goes the extra mile.”

At Christmas, Crouse gave every student a voucher for a McDonald's Happy Meal.

He and his wife gave the money for computers “so the kids will have it better than we had it,” said Crouse, who took his first computer class as a junior at West Greene High School.

Deborah Crouse is the business affairs director and board secretary for Central Greene schools.

Cecil administrators used the donation to buy 32 Acer Chromebooks and two iPads. The boxes are stacked in the administration office, and the computers will go into use next week.

The Chromebooks will replace aging netbooks the third- and fourth-graders use. The iPads will be added to 28 the school owns and will go to classes from kindergarten through second grade, Dziak said. The purchases would not have been possible without the donation, she said.

“There's no way we could have purchased that many,” Dziak said. “It would have taken years to get that many through the budget.”

The Crouses have three children, ages 26 to 35. Crouse dotes on his granddaughter, who turns 2 in June, but he said the students and staff at Cecil Elementary hold a special place.

“It's sort of like one big family,” said Crouse, who is thinking of retiring. “The good Lord has been good to us, and we wanted to give something back to the kids.”

Jason Cato is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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