Many days [Roy McKnight] arrived at school before 5 a.m. He unlocked the building, turned on the lights, cleared debris from around the school and "made sure everything was safe and ready for the children," said extension director Patti Sanchez. He cleaned bathrooms, emptied trash cans, plugged leaks, set up tables for bake sales and built decorations for holiday celebrations.Roy really did remember every students' names, and their parents too. My dad still has really good memories of conversations with him before and after school, and Roy always remembered the little details of what they would talk about.
"He went about his work very quietly. He just got things done," said Ramirez.
As the sun came up and students began to arrive, McKnight stood outside and greeted each child by name before they scampered past Ramirez and into the building. He inquired about their families, zipped their jackets and told them to have a good day.
At lunch and recess, he supervised the playground, often joining in games of tag and tetherball. He was fun and mischievous in his role as hall monitor, but a stickler about rules against running in the hallways and talking too loudly.
More than once, he came home with bumps and bruises "from getting hit with a ball or running into a wall while he was playing with the kids," said Calagno.
Roy always encouraged me to get off the bench at recess and play sports I didn't really want to play, and when I started losing my hair and stopped talking to people, he made the crueler kids stop picking on me and let me spend recesses with my books again.
He helped me put up my posters when I decided to run for student council and, after I won, he helped me put more recycling bins on the playground and fix the broken stall doors in the girl's bathroom.
Rest in peace, Roy--truly the "heart and soul" of St. Francis Elementary.