Leaving a mark

Custodian writes motivational quotes on classroom whiteboards


Photo by Chassidy Davis

Motivational quotes are appearing on the whiteboards in classrooms all over Texas High. Custodian Shakarian “Shay” Royston has been leaving these messages after school each day in the hopes of making someone else’s day brighter.

Story by Ashley Davis, Staff writer

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” is written on a classroom’s whiteboard, inspiring students and staff throughout their school day.

Over the past three weeks of school, mysterious quotes have appeared on teachers’ whiteboards. Shakarian “Shay” Royston is a custodian who began writing motivational quotes in memory of her brother.

“My brother passed away on Sept. 5. When he died, I started to look at different inspirational quotes every day to remind me who I am, what I’m doing and who I’m doing it for, which is my kids,” Royston said. “So I write [motivational quotes] for other people who may be having trouble at home, or for a teacher who is having a bad day. I want these quotes to help everyone keep going.” 

During hardships, it’s easy to get discouraged and look down on the world. However, Royston’s an inspiration in the way she used her pain and grief to inspire other people who are struggling. Small acts of kindness can significantly impact anyone struggling with mental health issues and can even make a difference in life or death.

 When life gets too hard to bear, people tend to look for at least one reason to stay. The motivation these quotes offer may help someone want to keep fighting and find a way out of their situation whether that be a hard home life or failure in school.

“I think kids obviously go through a lot each day. And anytime we can add something positive to their experience, and disrupt problems that they’re having, let them look over and have a motivational quote to lift their spirits,” history teacher Lance Kyles said. “There’s a silver lining to every cloud, anything that will help students get through their day is a positive idea.”

There’s a silver lining to every cloud, anything that will help students get through their day is a positive idea.”

— Lance Kyles

Teachers lack appreciation now more than ever. During the pandemic, their jobs were flipped upside down and they had to make a lot of adjustments in a short amount of time. Now that life is beginning to look normal again, teachers are given high expectations with very little respect. Royston is hoping to lift their spirits by leaving sticky notes at their desks.

“It improves the overall morale of the classroom in the sense that the quotes help students recognize that the school year has a chance to improve because you’re establishing yourself in a new environment,” junior Valeria Mendez said. “The quotes give students something to look forward to when they come into class, it could even turn into a game: ‘What’s this week’s quote?’”

Royston strives to relieve those who are struggling mentally. Sadness, anger and insecurity thrive in the minds of teenagers. None of us truly know who we are yet, and it can be very hard to deal with the pressures of our futures where we are thrown into the “real world” head-first and expected to smoothly transition into the independence of adulthood. 

“You never know what people are going through on a daily basis,” Royston said. “Some people walk around angry inside for whatever reason. I just want them to keep going, be strong and never forget who they are inside.”