JCPS custodian inspires students with his passions for cleaning - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS custodian inspires students with his passions for cleaning and art

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It can be a thankless job. However, a long-time custodian is getting noticed at JCPS, by turning his passion for cleaning into much more. 

Wendell Bowen is on the home team at Butler Traditional High School, working there long after the last bell rings. "This is my parameter, to that back wall a little further down this way," Bowen said. "I've got it down to a science."

He's cleaned the school like most would their house for more than a decade. "Both sides of the window and the corners too. Just pull down, zip and that's clean," Bowen said.

He's specialized in spic and span for even longer. "As I go through the campus, my eyes are like a video camera, I'm looking for things. I'm always in that mode, search mode, collecting," Bowen said.

Like any home away from home, he said it needed decorating. "This is my little neck of the woods," Bowen said. "You'd be surprised. people throw away a ton of stuff, good things and so I've accumulated quite a bit over the years, so I started building things out of the things I've collected."

His supply closet lets you in on his life's work. "I started this back when I was in kindergarten. I'm 56 now," he said.

Bowen turns recyclables into art, illustrates children's books and teaches student workshops.

"I didn't know he did stuff like this, like he was this creative," said Marcus Seymour, a junior at Butler.

"Someone that you see every day also does that on their off time and is willing to come to the same place as they work and show us that, it's pretty cool," said Jasmine Elder, who is also a junior.

When he's not sweeping the floor, he's sweeping a canvas. "Kind of like when you send a greeting card or you send somebody flowers, certain colors trigger certain emotions. So, it plays a big part in art," Bowen said.

His home resembles his school closet. In an outgrown space, this is Bowen's escape. His ultimate dream is to own an art studio one day.

"It's always held a passion for me and it just grows every year. It gets better every year and I'm just having the best time," Bowen said.

His full time job can get overlooked. "No matter what your passion is, find what you like, do your best, be the best at it, keep working at it to get better and better and it will reward you," Bowen said.

However, Bowen is offering a lesson at school that's not in textbooks. "His key thing he always told me was to try, try again," Seymour said.

Bowen is trying to raise money for a studio. To help, you can email Bowen at bowenbrushman@yahoo.com.

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