Re-2 facilities manager shutting off the lights after 18 years
After more than 18 years with the school district, Craig Jay, Garfield Re-2’s long-time facilities director, will be hanging up his hard hat and saying goodbye to his master set of keys. His last day will be Jan. 31.
“I’ve been carrying around these keys for over 18 years,” he said as he opened one of the rooms of the Learning Opportunity Center before placing his set in his back pocket for one of the last times.
He said it will be like losing an extra limb.
Over his time with Re-2, Jay has been alongside as the Garfield School District Re-2 expanded from six schools to 10 and for all of the improvements and changes that have been made along the way.
“Everything we do has an impact, but if we do our job right, nobody ever knows we are there,” he explained. “I like solving problems and taking on new challenges: taking something and making it better.”
Among the many districtwide projects he’s been involved with, he said none had a bigger impact on the students and community than converting Riverside Middle School to Elk Creek Elementary, which was completed in 2008.
He said the project required staff to transform an aging building into a new elementary school. Staff removed locker rooms and remodeled several rooms in order to make the building a better learning space for elementary students.
Since then, he’s been able to see firsthand as nearly 10 years of elementary students have come through those doors he helped put in place.
His fondest memory of that project was seeing the first staff reactions to the new school, which included many tears.
Among the biggest changes he’s seen to the district have been technology improvements to each of the schools and better energy management practices. He’s helped design several schools to be more energy efficient, including numerous upgrades to heating, cooling and lighting systems to be more “green.”
In 2012, Jay won the Garfield Clean Energy Innovation Award as facilities director.
Since his first day in May 1999, Jay has seen several Re-2 students grow from eager students to come back and work on the Re-2 maintenance staff. As many as five members of the maintenance staff have experienced Jay’s improvements as a student only to return and help improve the schools for future generations.
“It’s very powerful to see where they were before and to have them come back and work for the staff and to see them grow, and how much impact they can then have on the district,” he said. “It’s about providing the best environment we can for our students.”
The district will hold a special community gathering at the Learning Opportunity Center from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday to celebrate Jay’s 18 years of service to the district.
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