Custodian Nancy Chavez keeps school in order and running smoothly
In the early morning hours, as kids are just waking for their school day, a team of quiet champions is already at work preparing school buildings for days filled with learning. When the students and staff leave for the day, the evening shift comes in and gets things ready to do it all over again. Oct. 2 was National Custodian Day, but custodial crews in school districts – and buildings across the country – keep things running smoothly at all hours.
Nancy Chavez has been a day shift custodian at Graham Mesa Elementary for three years. She began full time, after working with Garfield Re-2 School District as a substitute custodian.
“I like my job – no, I love it,” she said.”I wanted to try something different. I worked in hospitals before, and I thought it would be great to work with kids.”
Chavez starts at GME at 5:30 a.m., making sure the building is warm, welcoming and safe for her students and her staff. Chavez is part of a team of 40 custodians in the Garfield Re-2 School District – a team Chavez says plays a very important role.
“I think my job is like a hero job,” she explained. “I am everywhere trying to help the teachers and the kids. I love to shovel snow in the mornings. I check the doors and I am responsible for keeping the school clean. I don’t want to get anyone sick. It is my part to keep kids healthy.”
The best part of the day for Chavez, however, is the kids.
“I love the kids. Oh my goodness, they make my day,” she said. “Sometimes the kids come in and are sad in the morning. They say they didn’t sleep well the night before, or they had something happen at home. When I see them in the morning, I say, ‘come, let’s get some breakfast,’ and we talk. It is so cool that they trust me and talk to me.”
She added, “I learn something new from our kids every day.”
Brenda Doty is the Garfield Re-2 custodian supervisor.
“Our custodians go above and beyond every day to make sure our students and staff are in a safe and clean place so they can learn,” said Doty. “They are the eyes and ears of the building. One of our team members even went dumpster diving for a young lady who was in tears because she had accidentally tossed her retainer out with her lunch tray. They found it!”
Chavez says she hopes to stay in her current position for a long time and adds she is always looking for opportunities to add to her skills to help her school and the people in it.
“I want to get better and push myself so I can help them more,” she explained. “I was thinking about getting my CPR certification so that when the kids are eating if someone is choking, I can help them.”
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The Roaring Fork School District announced plans at Wednesday’s school board meeting to provide COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students by the end of the school year.