Thank you, HSD Custodians. You play a key role in supporting a high level of teaching and learning - and safety - in Hockinson Schools.
Saturday, October 2 was Custodial Appreciation Day. We included a tribute to our custodians in our most recent Hockinson Round Up, but this is an important group of people who I felt deserved a bigger acknowledgment. So I jotted down a few thoughts to remind us all of the critical, yet often overlooked, contributions made by our custodians.
Who is a custodian? Why are they key to great schools?
The definition of a custodian is: “One entrusted with guarding or keeping a property.” One symbol of that guardianship is the key ring carried by custodians - a big key ring.
Key is an interesting term. It has a literal definition, such as a house key. It also has a symbolic meaning, as in “an instrumental or deciding factor.” Well, not only do our custodians carry the keys, they represent the many keys to maintaining a high-quality learning environment. Specifically:
Custodians are key to a healthy school
Our custodians clean every possible surface under the daily requirements of COVID. They disinfect classrooms, restrooms, and common areas every night. Our custodians are also the in-house experts on on blood-borne pathogens because the majority of staff readily defers this responsibility to them. Our custodians are tasked with the unpleasant clean ups and they respond dutifully whenever called upon.
Custodians are key to a safe school
Custodians might get frustrated when their hard work gets undone. But they understand that fingerprints on doors, dirty desktops, and dusty air filters come with the territory. Especially during COVID, our custodians also understand that these messes can possibly translate into infections. So they roll up their sleeves and repeat the cleaning cycle all over again!
Custodians are also the ones we count on to:
Apply de-icer on sidewalks so staff and students don’t slip and fall;
Replace lighting so our campuses remain well-lit and safe;
Respond during school emergencies such as evacuations and lockdowns;
Ensure that our buildings are secure every night; and
Assist whenever a staff member notices unsafe conditions.
Custodians are key to our comfort
Our HVAC systems, at times, are … problematic. Additionally, our staff members have different standards for what’s “warm” and “cold.” Nevertheless, our custodians respond to all of the complaints and do their best to regulate classroom temperatures because they know that their response will support effective instruction and student learning. Our custodians caulk drafty windows and install weather stripping around doors. They also repair sinks and drinking faucets and sync clocks across the campus - all to keep our classrooms functional and comfortable.
Custodians are key to our good image
We are proud of our schools and we are dedicated to protecting our community’s investment. Our custodians perform a variety of maintenance tasks from painting to waxing to repairing that keep our schools looking their best. They display school banners, flags, and awards with care. Moreover, they keep our campuses free of garbage and graffiti. The result?
And our custodians are key to setting the tone
I believe that when we treat our buildings with respect so will our students. If we let little acts of damage go unaddressed or we tolerate dirty conditions, we increase the likelihood that these conditions will continue, even multiply. Our custodians are front-line workers who enforce a high standard of quality. They also lead by example...every time they clean an area or make a repair they are leading by example. It is my hope that we all follow that example - we can always be more mindful about picking up, cleaning up, or noticing when something is in need of repair. In doing so we will not only treat our buildings with respect, we will also show respect to our building’s caretakers.
Thank you, HSD custodians, for all of these keys - and many more. Whether or not we say it during the 180 school days we are together, I hope you know that we appreciate you.