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Posted: February 19, 2016

A Tribute to Our Custodians

Supt. Reedy recognizes two custodians who represent the many who make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Our students matter, not just to educators in the classroom, but to all who support our schools. Whether you’re a teacher or cafeteria worker, principal or police officer, EA or secretary or custodian, you touch the lives of students and help guide them on their journey to becoming successful, happy adults.

Arturo Campos and Francisco Mendoza know this. The two custodians take pride in their work, keeping their schools clean and safe for students and staff. But their dedication and commitment goes well beyond their contractual duties. Arturo and Francisco are making a difference in the lives of those they serve.

I met Arturo at the Highland High gym, “his gym,” as he calls it. The son of a former APS kindergarten teacher and father of another one of our custodians, Arturo described the aging gym as a haven for “his” students who deserve to feel pride in their surroundings. He works diligently to keep the gym spotless, picking up trash, washing walls, painting trash cans, polishing floors.

“It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of work, but it’s worth it because one of the first things people notice when they come into a place is its cleanliness. That first impression matters,” he said.

Arturo dreads rainy days when he has to find towels and buckets to catch the drops from the leaky roof; but he loves game nights when he gets to cheer on the Hornets.

Arturo, or Grandpa as he’s known around Highland, found an old spotlight that he shines on the players as they are introduced. He dances and cheers and makes the home crowd laugh. At one recent basketball game, he got to wear the Herbie the Hornet mascot costume, a bucket list item for him.

“Everyone knew it was me because of the way I dance,” he said. “I just like to put a smile on people’s faces!”

Arturo is grateful to voters who approved funding for a new gym, and says he’s ready to take care of the new and improved facility on behalf of the students and staff he serves.

Like Arturo, Francisco Mendoza at Oñate Elementary does much more than keep the school clean. A former professional soccer player whose career ended following a knee injury, Francisco serves as an ambassador, advisor, role model and friend to so many at the school. He might be seen opening milk cartons for kindergarteners in the cafeteria, carrying supplies for teachers from the parking lot, interpreting for Spanish-speaking parents, even reminding the principal that it’s time for an oil change.

“These people are very nice, and they are very important to me,” he said, explaining why he has chosen for 14 years to drive across town to work at the little school in the foothills. “I’ve watched these children grow up. Some of them are in college now. They mean so much to me.”

People like Francisco and Arturo mean so much to the district, to their schools, to our students.  I appreciate all of you who, like them, have dedicated your lives to making the lives of our students better.