No two days are the same for building service workers in Charles County Public Schools (CCPS).
“You never know what you’re going to walk into,” said Charlie Proctor, the building service manager at Westlake High School. “We get called for the things no one wants to do. I look at it like this — Whatever needs to be done in the eight hours, it’s my job.”
Not that a day promises to be only eight hours. Building service managers get the call if their building’s fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Proctor remembered driving by his building one weekend and spotting graffiti. He started making calls to ensure it was removed by the start of the school week.
“We take pride in everything we do,” said Alice Makle, building service manager at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School. Before leaving a room, Makle and her team members look around to double check they’re leaving it better than when they arrived.
“It’s a lot of hard work and we all work together,” said James Simmons, a building service worker at Barnhart. “We want a clean and safe place ready for faculty and kids to work and study.”
National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day was Oct. 2 with many schools recognizing the work done by building service workers around the system.
A big part of a successful building service team is strong communication, said Phyllis Whalen, building service manager at William B. Wade Elementary School. She and Norman Patterson, the school’s building service assistant manager, make sure to communicate daily. “Without communication and organization, things are going to fall apart.”
April Murphy, supervisor of operations, agreed. “The most successful teams we have work together every day,” she said. “These teams appreciate the importance of the work they do in schools, take pride in their work and in the condition of the building.”
“For me, it’s the pride factor,” Proctor said. “People come in and see what you do.”
“It’s extremely hard cleaning up behind 700 little kids — we are working with the babies, so we have a lot of little emergencies every day,” Whalen said. “We really love what we do, even though it’s hard work.”
When school closes for teachers and students over the summer, building service workers go to work getting their schools back in “first day” shape. Cleaning walls, changing damaged ceiling tiles, fixing lights. “We try to put 100 percent into what we do from start to finish,” Patterson said.
This year, 38 CCPS facilities — including Barnhart, Wade and Westlake — scored in the superior range during system inspections, Murphy said. Keeping a school in top shape takes hard work — a school doesn’t close its door once the school day ends.
“There are so many in-school programs, afterschool events and daily activities in schools that having a strong, cohesive building service team allows the principal, administrators and teachers to focus solely on educating students,” Murphy said. “A strong building service team whose motivation is to support the educational goals of their school by providing a clean, safe environment that is conducive to learning is instrumental in the overall success of a school.”
CCPS employs about 233 fulltime building service staff who help the school system run smoothly.
“It’s never boring,” Patterson said. “There is always something to do.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.