Maplewood Middle School Custodian Mr. Wise Is Retiring—Come Celebrate Him June 20

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Bob Wise, custodian of Maplewood Middle School and, before that, Seth Boyden School, is retiring, and the community is gathering to celebrate him on Tuesday, June 20 from 5-8 p.m. at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road, in Maplewood.

“Please join us to help Bob celebrate his retirement as our beloved head custodian at Maplewood Middle School,” reads the announcement. 

Those interested in attending can RSVP here. 

When South Orange-Maplewood celebrated Mr. Wise hitting 20 years of employment in 2016, Lisa Mainardi shared this profile:

Robert Wise 

Robert Wise was born and raised in South Carolina with his three brothers and three sisters.

He moved to Newark New Jersey in 1978, and then to East Orange and in 1995 he finally landed in Maplewood, New Jersey. And Maplewood is lucky to have him.

Robert Wise is a dedicated and loyal civil servant in our community and has worked and volunteered in our schools, our parks, our political campaigns and our community buildings. Trained by two carpenters, his father and uncle, he was a natural and today he can fix anything and has been doing so in our schools for years.

Mr. Wise is a long-time South Orange-Maplewood School District custodian who has always displayed an uncommon concern for the welfare of all of the children in his schools. His employment here began in 1998 at Maplewood Middle School. Early on, he was reassigned to South Orange Middle School reporting to then-Vice Principal Chris Harrison. Harrison recognized Robert’s potential and skills and when he became Principal of Seth Boyden in 2003, he recruited Robert to work there. Soon after, Harrison encouraged and coached Robert in earning his Fireman’s Black Seal License, enabling him to serve as a Head Custodian.

Mr. Wise stayed at Seth Boyden for a decade and had a tremendous impact on the school’s environment. He volunteered extensively in Seth Boyden’s Strawberry Fields Teaching Garden, where each classroom maintains a garden, as well as its Habitat Garden for the study of birds, insects and plant species. His contribution was instrumental in supporting the school’s focus on Environment Based Learning, which has attracted many families and students to this demonstration school.

Mr. Wise was a key reason why children felt welcome at Seth Boyden. He had a habit of taking parents, students and teachers under his wing. He made every child in the building his own! He knew their names and spoke to them regularly. His heart was in everything he did.

Mr. Wise’s influence was evident in the Seth Boyden After School Enrichment Program where he taught Wise Carpentry and Boyden Builders classes — hands-on skills and creative fun. His behind-the-scenes support for the Seth Boyden 5th Grade Play was also invaluable, especially when he figured out how to make a kite fly through the auditorium and down to the stage.

After Seth Boyden, Mr. Wise spent a brief time helping out at Columbia High School and finally in 2013 was asked to return back to Maplewood Middle School where he serves to this day. At Maplewood Middle School he is dedicated to maintaining a respectful, clean and rewarding environment for tweens and teens. He controls some of the valuable Cougar Cash, which he dispenses to children for earning good grades and making “Wise” choices. He goes above and beyond helping out where he can, including the MMS All School Musical, the MMS Outdoor Garden, and the Hub.

During the Science Wing renovations, he made extra preparations to ensure that everyone stayed safe. He is aware of what needs to be done and what’s going on in his school. He is described by the middle schoolers, who adore him, as “The Man” and “the best janitor ever!”

For the last four years Bob Wise has been a part-time employee of the Township of Maplewood where he has worked at maintaining the township parks and buildings including DeHart Park and Community Center, the Burgdorff Cultural Center, the Tennis Courts, Orchard Park, Maplecrest Park and Memorial Park. Since the township purchased the Women’s Club in 2013 and renamed it The Woodland, Mr. Wise has worked tirelessly cleaning, fixing up and taking care of this historic landmark as if it were his own home.

Mr. Wise is a persistent advocate for the welfare of residents in the Seth Boyden neighborhood east of Springfield Avenue, urging Maplewood municipal officials to provide robust levels of fire, public works and police services. In support of these objectives, he has campaigned door-to-door for Mayor Vic De Luca and Township Committee members India Larrier and Ian Grodman, as well as former Township Committee members Marlon Brownlee, Kathy Leventhal, Ken Pettis and Fred Profeta.

Mr. Wise is a strong supporter of causes related to educational equity and Board of Education candidates committed to it. He’s been volunteering in local elections since the late 1990’s and has been active in registering people to vote, canvassing our neighborhoods and campaigning for candidates he believes in, including Mila Jasey when she ran for reelection to the Board of Education for two additional terms, as well as many of the Board candidates who followed.

Mr. Wise promises to continue his campaign work for Board of Education and Township Committee candidates who will, in his opinion, best serve the interests of Maplewood and South Orange residents.

Robert Wise has five children: Barbara, Margaret, Michael, Brian and Felicia, and seven grandchildren. 

Read testimonials about Mr. Wise here. 

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