Kids are messy! Everyone knows that. But if you think being a school janitor is just mopping floors and taking out garbage, try spending one day with them. Cindy Davis, who has been employed for five years as a custodian at Koch School says, “You never know what you are going to find. We do whatever is needed, and it’s different all the time.”
Nancy (Bunny) Hein, who has been employed as a custodian for six years said, “We do anything from cleaning up the classrooms and lunch clean up to cleaning walls and urinals,”
The custodial staff begins their work at 5:30 – 6 a.m. with hundreds of possible chores landing on their to-do lists before the students even arrive. They scrub, mop, mow the grass, maintain the school vehicles, paint lines on the football field, shovel snow, deliver lunches, and work during ballgames. And removing shoe scuff marks- that’s a never-ending job. They also paint, polish, organize, and sanitize.
Some days are quiet; some are a little more exciting. “We found a dead deer by the middle school door one morning,” Jay Elsberry said. “We also had a python loose in the school after the circus was here,” said Justin Brown. “But it’s a good kind of crazy,” said Lori Buescher, a 3-year employee at Koch. “There is always something new it seems. The days go by real fast.”
Jerry Kathman worked as the head maintenance man and custodian for 33 years. This summer, he cut back to part-time status, but remains active as the lead man. “I still have the same duties overseeing,” he said. “But all the staff know their jobs and they do them well without being told on a daily basis.” Richard Bohn is the night custodian for the middle and high school. He has been with the district for six years.
St. Lawrence School employs three part-time custodians. Ken Vanorny has been an employee since 1989, and Darnell Frerichs has just a few weeks under her belt. “I worked as a custodian about six or seven years ago, but recently came back to this position,” she said. Marvin Powell is in his retirement years, but he has spent the past year and a half working for the school. “I used to pour concrete for a living, so this is easy,” he said. “The kids are the best part. That’s why I’m here,” said Vanorny.
Like fairies or superheroes, the school custodians perform their magic when you aren’t looking. “People don’t realize how dirty the kids’ desks get during the day,” said Frerichs. “I come in and clean their desks every night, and I bet the kids don’t even know they are welcomed with a clean desk every morning.” So if you stop by one of the schools and see of speck of dust, remember it’s not actually dirt, it’s fairy dust. Or maybe kryptonite.
Milbank Middle School and MHS custodians: (Back l. to r.) Jay Elsberry and Richard Bohn. (Front) Jerry Kathman and Justin Brown.
Koch School custodians: (l. to r.) Nancy (Bunny) Hein, Lori Buescher, and Cindy Davis.
St. Lawrence custodians: (l. to r.) Marvin Powell, Darnell Frerichs, and Ken Vanorny.