When the Missouri Military Academy (MMA) cadets from Bravo and Band Companies signed a Christmas card to show their thanks and presented it to him, Dennis Schriever wasn't expecting it.
"I got teary-eyed," he said. "And I thought, wow, I am making a difference."
Schriever joined the facilities and maintenance team at MMA last fall. Each day, he takes pride in his job, cleaning the barracks where the MMA middle school and high school cadets live. While he sets an example for the cadets through his work ethic, the cadets say the extra care he has given them by leaving motivational notes has made a difference in their days.
MMA Cadets Ryan Miles '25 from Dallas, Texas, and Jesus Robinson '26 from Shiller Park, Illinois, stop to read a note that Schriever left on the mirror in the barracks' hallway.
"Ever since Mr. Schriever became our janitor, not only has he done a lot of work on our bathrooms, but he also leaves the cadets handwritten sticky notes with positive and motivational quotes each day," says Bravo Company Commander Nathan Dempsey '24. "It's beginning to be something that all the cadets look forward to. In Bravo, we wanted to show our appreciation toward Mr. Schriever and give him thanks from each cadet so that he knows how much he means to every cadet in Bravo."
Left, on green paper, notes that Dennis Schriever has left for cadets in the barracks. Center and right, thank you notes from Bravo and Band Company for Schriever.
Schriever's messages, signed "D," include such encouragement for cadets as "Never look back! It distracts you from living in the moment." and "Our greatest glory is not in not failing, but in rising up every time you fail. Gotta get back up and chin up."
Band Company Commander Pablo Belmonte '24 echoes Dempsey's sentiment.
"He writes these sticky notes with positive messages for cadets, which motivates them. We thought we should give him those Christmas cards in thanks for his work and help at the barracks and also for those notes that keep our cadets motivated to do well," added Belmonte.
When Schriever was moving back to his home state of Missouri from Arizona last fall, he said that getting hired at Missouri Military Academy was divine timing.
"I was loading the truck to move when Bernie called me," Schriever says about getting a call from Bernie Strunk, MMA director for facilities, with an invitation to interview.
He left Arizona on a Saturday and arrived in Missouri on Sunday. By Tuesday, he had a new job at MMA. Schriever holds 25 years of custodial experience and 10 years of construction experience, a trade he learned while working with his dad. In Arizona, he spent time working as a bus driver, and he says he enjoyed working with the kids.
"As a bus driver, I tried to reach the kids but couldn't with 75 to 80 kids on a route," Schriever says about his drive to make a positive difference.
At MMA, he realized he might have another opportunity to do something good. At first, he started leaving motivational cards he bought, but he didn't like how many of them had an "I" (individual) focus. Soon, he was writing his own messages for the cadets.
"Be a light to others. That's who I am," he says, describing how his Christian faith helps guide him each day.
"I just do what I'm supposed to do. We are all here to support the cadets," Schriever says about working at MMA. "Teachers, company leadership advisors, custodians -- our job is to mold them. We are here to make a difference in cadets' lives every day."
Schriever and his wife Melissa have three grown children. When not working at MMA, he is busy renovating a 123-year-old home in Paris, Missouri.