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Longtime Spring Creek Elementary custodian retires after spending every morning dancing, singing for students

His name is Willie Bernard. The kids call him Mr. Willie.

DALLAS — For the last 10 years, the school day at Spring Creek Elementary has always begun with a little celebration just outside the building's front door, all thanks to the daytime custodian.

His name is Willie Bernard. The kids call him Mr. Willie. 

“Mr. Willie’s a really good guy,” 3rd grader Connor Wilkins said. “We just really love him.”

“We’re just really lucky to have a janitor like Mr. Willie,” 4th grader Cade Stevens said.

Every morning outside the school building in front of the drop-off line, Bernard plays music, dances, gives high fives, and sings to students as they walk into the building.

His boisterous voice can be heard loud and clear through his megaphone.

“I just love doing it!” Bernard said.

At the end of December, Bernard is retiring after working at Spring Creek Elementary School for 10 years.

On Thursday, parents drove their decorated cars through the drop off-line, honking their horns and holding signs for Bernard. 

“We’re sad that he’s leaving, but we’re happy for him,” Stevens said.

Behind Bernard's contagious smile is the story of a man originally from New Orleans. He survived Hurricane Katrina, finding shelter at the convention center in Dallas.

“It was raining, storming, and everything,” Bernard said. “I mean Katrina really came through there.”

More recently, Bernard has lost several family members to COVID-19.

On Thursday, he wore a Cowboys jersey to school in honor of his late brother.

But through it all, Bernard has taught the kids to always start the day with a smile. 

In fact, there’s a reason the school decided to celebrate him Thursday, the day the Cowboys played the Saints.

Because regardless of who wins, Bernard will be smiling. 

“I go for the Cowboys. I go for the Saints,” Bernard said. “If the Saints win, it’s alright. If the Cowboys win, it’s good for me.”

    

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