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Steve Weidner didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he walked across the playground on his way back from lunch.
On June 2, the 46-year-old custodian at Alan Shepard Elementary School in Bourbonnais, Illinois, was swarmed by 104 second graders hoping to get their yearbooks signed.
“It was pretty overwhelming for me with them all screaming for my attention and waving their yearbooks in the air,” Weidner told TODAY.com. “But after we organized a line and I sat down, it ended up being really fun.”
And the students who didn’t have a chance to get their yearbooks signed outside weren’t left hanging — “Mr. Steve,” as Weidner is known at the school, went into classrooms to give out his autograph, and also had students bring their yearbooks to lunch.
During his 15 years at Shepard, he’s signed students' yearbooks, but has never had the turnout he had this year.
“He’s a role model for the students and someone they know they can go to whenever they need him — whether a ball flies over a fence or they get sick,” principal Shirley Padera told TODAY.com. “No problem is too big for Mr. Steve.”
Lunchtime is when Weidner gets to know the students best. He’ll sit down and talk to them about their days and they often ask him to tell jokes.
“I love being around kids,” Weidner, a father of four, said. “The students are very comfortable around me and know if they need anything all they have to do is raise their hands.”
Weidner has signed about 300 yearbooks this year and said that he will continue the tradition for years to come.
“The students are what makes every day a joy to go to work,” Weidner said. “I do it for the kids.”