Mr. Bob’s blessings: School custodian writes devotionals for teachers

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019


MONTEVALLO – When Montevallo Elementary School reading interventionist Rachael Ruis sees a piece of paper covered with familiar handwriting on her table, she knows her morning is off to a proper start.

Ruis looks forward to the handwritten devotionals from Bob Stricklin, a custodian at MES, like some people look forward to their morning coffee.

“I love walking in my room and finding one on my table,” she said. “I enjoy reading them and refocusing before my day gets started.”

Mrs. Jones’s collection of devotionals Mr. Bob has left for her. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

Stricklin, 68, better known among students and teachers as “Mr. Bob,” writes devotionals for faculty members who ask him to and leaves them on their desks before school starts.

“I usually give out about 25 (devotionals) on Friday mornings,” he said. “I hope they get a blessing out of it.”

Stricklin said he started writing devotionals at church about nine years ago.

He spends several days writing a different devotional for the MES faculty members on his request list every week.

“I’m truly not a writer,” he said. “I sort of put on paper what God puts on my heart. I just hope they get a blessing from it as much as I do writing them.”

Stricklin started working in the school system shortly after he retired from a trucking career in 2015.

Mr. Bob waves at students passing by him in the hallway at MES. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

“I’m enjoying my job tremendously,” he said. “It’s such a blessing working here with these children and these teachers. I’ve never worked with people that have blessed my life like the people that work in the school system.”

MES Principal Dr. Allison Campbell said Stricklin always has a smile on his face and is constantly looking for ways to encourage or help students and staff.

“We call him our angel at Montevallo Elementary,” she said. “He’s just the ideal employee. It’s an absolute privilege to work with him.”

Ruis said she cried the first time she read one of Stricklin’s devotionals, and added, “They are always so powerful and have an amazing message.”

Fifth grade teacher Christina Chapman described Stricklin as an “amazing asset” and a “positive spirit” at the school.

“If there is ever a need for prayer, you can always, without a doubt, contact Mr. Bob and know that he will be fervently praying for you or the situation,” Chapman said. “He is a true man of God, and we were so blessed to have him come into our school.”

Stricklin said students sometimes ask him to pray about a person or situation in their lives, too. He might not know exactly what’s happening, but he always does what he’s asked.

“You can always count on Mr. Bob if you have a prayer request,” Ruis said. “He pulls out a little journal from his pocket and writes it down immediately. It is very comforting to know that Mr. Bob is praying for you.”

It’s hard to determine whether students and staff are more thankful for Mr. Bob or if he is more thankful for them.

“Mr. Bob has been a blessing to the MES faculty, staff and students in so many ways,” fifth grade teacher Teresa Burden said. “He doesn’t just write weekly devotionals for the faculty and staff. He prays aloud on a different hall during the moment of silence each morning, and he prays with our lunchroom staff. He’s truly a man of God who doesn’t hide the light that shines within him.”

For Stricklin, his job is much less about the labor than it is about the positive impact he strives to have on everyone at MES.

“God has a plan for everybody, and I believe with all my heart that he sent me here to Montevallo Elementary,” Stricklin said. “Hopefully, I’ll be here for awhile.”