Meet the Montevallo Elementary School custodian who writes devotionals for teachers.


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. She looks forward to the handwritten devotionals from Bob Stricklin like some people look forward to their morning coffee. “I love walking in my room and finding one on my table,” she says. “I enjoy reading them and refocusing before my day gets started.”

The 68-year-old custodian, better known among MES students and teachers as “Mr. Bob,” writes devotionals for faculty members who ask him to, and leaves them on their desks before school starts. He gives out about 25 devotionals every Friday morning, saying, “I hope they get a blessing out of it.”

Mr. Bob says he started writing devotionals at church about nine years ago. Now, 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 says. “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.”

Mr. Bob started working in the school system shortly after he retired from a trucking career in 2015. He spent a year working at Montevallo High School before being transferred to the elementary school. “I enjoyed working at the high school. I really didn’t know what was in store for me over here, but I tell you what—don’t ever doubt God’s plan for you,” he says. “If you don’t leave here with a blessing every day, there’s just something wrong.”

He calls the school his “mission field,” a place where he is quick to jump into action when a need arises. “I have the privilege of being able to pray in our school,” he says. “When a child comes up to me and says, ‘Mr. Bob, would you pray for my mom or my dad,’ it’s just a blessing. I’m able to share my faith with these kids.”

MES Principal Dr. Allison Campbell says Mr. Bob is constantly looking for ways to help students and staff. She calls him the “go-to” person when someone is going through a trial and needs encouragement. “We call him our angel at Montevallo Elementary,” she says. “He’s just the ideal employee. It’s an absolute privilege to work with him.”

Rachael cried the first time she read one of Mr. Bob’s devotionals. “They are always so powerful and have an amazing message,” she says. And fifth grade teacher Christina Chapman describes him 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,” Christina says. “He is a true man of God, and we were so blessed to have him come into our school.” Rachael says he pulls a small journal out of his pocket and writes down prayer requests given to him. “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. “He doesn’t just write weekly devotionals for the faculty and staff,” fifth grade teacher Teresa Burden says. “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 Mr. Bob, his job is much less about the labor than it is about the relationships he has formed with the teachers and students—people he says have blessed him more than anyone ever has in other places he’s worked. “I’m so happy to be here. God has a plan for everybody, and I believe with all my heart that he sent me here to Montevallo Elementary. Hopefully, I’ll be here for a while.”