VOICES OF DAVIDSON
80th Birthday Parade for Donna Frazier, Everyone’s “Maw Maw”
Donna Frazier has a superpower — she gets kids excited about doing chores. Frazier, affectionately known as Maw Maw, is the head custodian at Community School of Davidson (CSD), a North Carolina public charter school in Davidson, North Carolina.
Every day after school, the “Trash Kids,” mainly children of staff members, scurry around the school emptying trashcans under Frasier’s supervision. She pays the kids a dollar a day, plus a little bottle of water and one piece of candy — all out of her own money. Kids clamor to become a Trash Kid.
On December 23, Frazier turned 80 years old, and the staff and students at CSD honored her with a SURPRISE drive-by parade that day through the school’s carpool line at 10 a.m. Participants were encouraged to drop off cards, letters and works of art to help Frazier celebrate this special day.
Frazier came to Davidson from Virginia in 2001 to help her daughter, Joy Warner, open CSD, now a highly acclaimed school of 1,300 students in grades K-12. Frazier’s husband, Hal, also worked at the school and was affectionately known as Paw Paw until his passing in 2018.
When the pandemic hit last spring, CSD students moved to virtual learning, leaving the school building empty. Maw Maw was heartbroken that she couldn’t be with her students on a daily basis, as she thinks of them as her grandchildren. Earlier this fall when CSD moved to a hybrid model, Maw Maw was ready to go.
“She [Frazier] insists on working and taking care of the school and her kids,” explains Juli Gardner, director of CSD’s elementary and middle school. “She wears her mask and shows up every day. Maw Maw knows that cleanliness is more important now than ever.”
During this time of uncertainty, it’s heartwarming to see how one woman can care about and bond with so many children all at once. Not only does Frazier keep the school clean, but she also fosters kindness and a strong work ethic in these students so that they pass those attributes onto others.
“We were so excited to honor her as she turns 80, she is the resident Maw Maw and matriarch of our school,” says Gardner. “This parade was definitely a bright spot in a year of so many disappointments.”
Lori K. Tate
Lori K. Tate is a freelance writer and essay coach. She lives in Cornelius with her husband, John, and teenage twins, Graydon and Margot.