Custodians at East

An inside look at who keeps East looking great

Joselyn Hildebrand

You see them when you’re walking in the hallways, when you eat lunch, and when you leave at the end of the day. They do so much for everybody here at East High, yet they do not seem to get the appreciation they deserve. These are East custodians.
“Every work day the district’s 236 custodians clean and prepare over 6 million square feet of school space for the next day. While the work the custodians do is often behind the scenes, it is very meaningful to the learning that is occurring in the district’s buildings,” director of DMPS custodial services Bryan McEvoy said.
The type of people that throw their trash all over the school are the same type of people that don’t care to think about our custodians when they are working hard to keep our school clean and nice.
“I’ve been here at East for 12 years. I did clean for a company and it was a part-time job before I started here. When I was interviewed, they said this is the type of person we’re looking for, so whatever job you have you have to do it the best you can,” East High custodian Victor Ruacho said.
Students recognize the hard work they do to ensure our school looks good and we can learn in a clean environment.
“They do a good job picking up after the kids who are not responsible for themselves. Usually, I never have trash with me but if I’m walking in the hallways and I see something I will pick it up,” sophomore Alejandro Camacho said.
East custodians enjoy their job. They make friends with other staff, coworkers and students.
“I like working here because growing up I didn’t have brothers or sisters. I always wondered what it’s like to have someone ask you “how do I do this?” I become friends with some students. I feel like I was put in this position not only to be a worker but to share. No matter what color, poor or rich. From the first day to today, I feel the love of the students. It doesn’t matter if I’m Mexican or if I speak good English. I am very comfortable here,” Ruacho said.
Custodians are thankful of the students here so let’s make them feel the appreciation in return.
“I always like to tell students that whatever they do, sometimes they have bad days, or they don’t want to go to school, just live your life and positive good things will come with time, I’ve been in times where I’m in a difficult situation. For instance, when my wife was sick and dying students came to see her. A teacher brought food to my house. Whatever you do, do it with your heart. One thing I always say is that it doesn’t matter who you are I always try to respect you and give you a smile,” Ruacho said.
Students who litter or do not use facilities respectfully don’t take into consideration who has to clean up after them now.
“Not everybody that comes to school has a good home, so I don’t like to judge because I don’t know how they live. I have positive attitude, it doesn’t make me mad. One thing they told me when I first came in, they told me students will leave a lot of trash. I learn to be positive,” Ruacho said.
What most of these students don’t think about is that our custodians are people too, not just employees who are here to clean up after them.
“I have a daughter and I baby sit her dog; we play football he plays as my linebacker and we get ice cream and I take him for rides, and I have a granddaughter she doesn’t hold still so in the summertime we ride bikes and get ice cream too. I like to sometimes read and watch football. Other times I do things like work on my own house like remodeling,” Ruacho said.
Working at East you develop friendships with the people you work with.
“At this point I think they are more than just coworkers. We go out to watch football and I go eat at their house. I didn’t have brothers or sisters, so they are more of a family to me,” Ruacho said.
There are many common misunderstandings about the job of a custodian. It’s much more than just picking up trash.
“The biggest misconception in my eyes is that the custodians only job is to clean. The scope of the work our custodians do reaches far beyond cleaning. While cleaning is a key element to their jobs, our custodians are responsible for many different things such as: preparing for events and activities, troubleshooting building systems issues and submitting work repair request, ordering and maintaining an inventory of supplies and equipment, monitoring and maintaining swimming pool chemicals, snow removal, and much more. Basically, the custodian is the eyes and ears of the building,” McEvoy said.
Students and staff can teach classes efficiently in their clean classrooms thanks to our custodians. They are happy knowing how much their work helps us. They do us such big favors by lifting weight off our shoulders. We don’t have to worry about making sure our learning environments are clean because they do it for us.
“Being sure that all of our spaces are clean, safe and school ready each day is critical. Students and teachers have more than enough things that can cause stress throughout the day to deal with, the spaces they occupy shouldn’t be one of them,” McEvoy said.
Simple things like dumping your lunch trays, throwing away gum wrappers and using bathrooms and drinking fountains correctly can make our custodians days so much easier.
“I think it’s important to use facilities like the bathroom correctly and not mess around. It’s important to greet them (custodians) and tell them they’re doing a good job. I feel like people don’t treat them fairly,” Camacho said.
The work our custodians do here at East is what people first see when they walk in our building.
“An old saying, if everybody does a little then nobody has to do a lot. When people enter our building, their work helps reflect our school. It gives people first impressions,” Graphic arts teacher Richard Bright said.