It’s 11:03, Ashley and I scoot scoot out of our room and head to our respective morning dismissal duties. As we boogie down the hall, we pass Al and Ted and a yellow cart loaded with cleaning supplies. We share a hallway hello. They are ready, they are waiting for empty rooms so the cleaning sprint can begin on the first floor. Far down the hall, I spy Rafael organizing for the morning dismissal. Upstairs, on the way to Emily’s room, I pass John and Chris and another yellow cart spilling over with cleaning supplies. More hallway hellos. They, too, are ready for their cleaning sprint. Al, Rafael, Ted, Chris and William, attack the midday cleaning of every desk, every chair, every piece of plexiglass in every classroom…every day.
In early August, I stopped by school to pick up books. I remember clearly the scene before me. All our custodians, gloved and masked moving furniture in and out of rooms, in and out of storage. I remember their sweaty brows and determined way. Al, always friendly Al, took the time to chat, telling me we’d definitely open. He proudly showed me the cafeteria turned faculty room. Socially distant tables for staff, mailboxes on the far wall and way in the corner, the lonely copier. When I left that day, I was really in awe of the herculean work Al and his team were doing so we could have a chance to be with kids in our building.
Al, Rafael, Ted, Chris and William are all-important members of our school community. They have given us the chance to get back to in person teaching and learning. Every day, their presence and their work is applauded. Their work is essential, they are essential. Thanks to them, we get to be in the company of children.