Little Falls Community High School custodian honored nationally as ‘Life Changer’

Little Falls Community High School Principal Tim Bjorge, left, presented Custodian Fred Slettom with the “Life Changer of the Year” plaque, April 11. Slettom received the award for the every day positive difference he makes at the school and in the community.
Little Falls Community High School Principal Tim Bjorge, left, presented Custodian Fred Slettom with the “Life Changer of the Year” plaque, April 11. Slettom received the award for the every day positive difference he makes at the school and in the community.

Fred Slettom has been honored on a national level as a life changer for what he does in the Little Falls School District.

Little Falls Community High School (LFCHS) Principal Tim Bjorge said Slettom, the custodian at LFCHS, received many comments about his helpful nature and friendly personality, as part of his nomination.

The Little Falls School District nominated Slettom for the “Life Changer of the Year” award offered by the National Life Group.

“In one way, it’s almost like an eulogy. Now I know what people will think of me after I pass away,” Slettom said.

“It’s probably more legit because nobody wants to talk bad about the dead,” Bjorge said.

The program recognizes and rewards K-12 education professionals, such as teachers, educators, administrators and other school staff members across the United States who influence the lives of students positively. People can then comment on the nominee’s profile on the Life Changer of the Year’s website.

Bjorge presented the “Life Changer of the Year” plaque to Slettom, April 11.

“Fred is being recognized as a 2016-2017 honor roll member for making a beneficial difference in the lives of students and in demonstrating exemplary leadership in the Little Falls community,” Bjorge said.

Among the more than 700 nominated school staff members, Slettom finished in the top 16.

It is an honor Slettom doesn’t take lightly.

“It brings tears to my eyes reading what people have said. If I’m having a bad day, I can go back to look at some of the comments people have said and it reminds me of the good,” Slettom said.

Former LFCHS student Diana Kempenich wrote that “Fred was hands down the best custodian ever. He would always tell my friends and I jokes, and he even created a ‘secret yellow locker’ for us, where he helped us decorate and fill a locker with only yellow items. He would occasionally fill it with yellow Laffy Taffys for us on days where he knew we had tests or lots of homework due. He always stopped to ask us about our day and genuinely cared for each and every one of us.”

Slettom has worked as the lead custodian on the second shift at LFCHS for 35 years. Before he graduated from LFCHS in 1979, he worked at the school for a couple of hours per day through the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program and during summer break.

Even though he’s seen many students come and go at the high school throughout the years, the way he interacts with others has not changed. Slettom is all about providing excellent customer service.

“That’s what it’s all about. If I can make someone smile, that makes my day,” he said.

To Bjorge, Slettom is the guy who makes all the difference. In many ways, he has become the face of the school.

“Fred has a great personality and is very helpful. In a business where people don’t always think of as being customer service related, Fred is all about customer service. He is here to serve the customers and our customers are the students, the parents and the visitors that come to our building. We only exist because of our students,” Bjorge said.

Robyn Gray, director of St. Francis Music Center in Little Falls, had nothing but good to say about Slettom. Like for so many others, he’s been the “go to guy” for Gray after hours. She’s directed several community theater plays in the high school auditorium.

“Fred helped us with everything. He was kind to all the kids, never complained at our messes, offered advice, helped in so many ways and always with a smile, a laugh and a compliment. He always made us feel welcome,” Gray said.

Bjorge said it isn’t uncommon for people to ask for Slettom when they visit the school or need something done.

“They know he will get it done, whether it is to open up a locker room or need an extension cord. He helps them in any way he can,” Bjorge said.

With the Life Changer of the Year plaque, Slettom also received a coffee mug, a bag, a “Life Changer”
pin and a $50 gift card.