Steve Weidner, aka Mr. Steve, is more than a husband, father and custodian. He's a celebrity to the kids at Alan Shepard Elementary School in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and now, thanks to Redditor wolfpack2421, a lot of people.
Weidner's also a modest guy who had no idea the entire second grade class would chase him down for his yearbook signature at once -- let alone create an image for the internet that now has over three million views since it was posted Friday, June 5.
But all this happened just in the past week. After 15 years of service at Shepard, Weidner's star status is totally earned and it's awesome to see kids recognizing that.
MTV News was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Steve. Though we didn't get his autograph, we did get a sense of who he is and what this experience has been like ... beyond having a sore signing hand.
MTV News: What's your favorite part about your job?
Steve Weidner: Interacting with the kids is great. I just like my job. I like the teachers, I like the staff and my coworkers, but it's really the whole building, all of that together -- that's the best part.
MTV: What are some ways you like to joke around and interact with students?
Weider: I dressed up as Santa Claus one year for a Christmas program they had at the school, so none of the kids knew who I was. And then when I went to lunch I got to hear all of them whisper to each other, "Who's Santa Claus? Who's Santa Claus?" and I was telling them it was someone else. Finally a couple of kids recognized me eventually and that was really cool to see the kids who didn't say, "No, it wasn't."
MTV: What's the nicest thing a kid has ever said to you?
Weidner: [Most recently] we had a second grade girl who was moving away this summer and wasn't going to be back next year. She came up to me when they were supposed to be going outside for recess. I told her she should go outside because it was a nice day out, and she said, "It's my last day and I want to stay with you." I was able to convince her to go to recess, but it was a sweet moment.
MTV: So how did the yearbook signing go down? Did the second graders chase you down like a rock star?
Weidner: I took my lunch break a little later that day, so I came back when they were already outside signing yearbooks. I was walking back into the school, and it just took a couple to see me before they all followed. Then it was all over, I started signing and a teacher helped get them in a line. Usually it's more organized, but this was chaos.
MTV: Did you write the same message in every yearbook?
Weidner: It started off the same -- "Have a great summer" -- until I ran out of time and had to sign my name.
MTV: How much time did you have to get through all 104 students of the second grade class?
Weidner: Roughly, about 20 minutes. And then I signed about 200 more yearbooks throughout the day with students in other grades, in between finding time to work.
MTV: Your hand must've hurt.
Weidner: It did, it did. I'm still recouping from it. (laughs)
MTV: What has surprised you about the experience of this image going viral?
Weidner: I've been signing yearbooks for years, but this is the first time that a picture had been taken. This was also the first year it's been this crazy, because it was later in the day and the kids were already done. But I didn't expect more then a few comments from parents on the Facebook page.
MTV: Has it been a positive experience overall?
Weidner: It's been great, I've loved it. It gives a lot of positive exposure to custodians and shows you don't have have to be a teacher to play a big part in a kid's life. That's all I'm trying to do.
Well done, Mr. Steve. Well done.