Custodians often work lengthy hours each day to ensure campuses are clean and safe for students. (Keeping School Buildings Ready / Phil Roeder / Flikr / CC BY 2.0)
Custodians often work lengthy hours each day to ensure campuses are clean and safe for students.

Keeping School Buildings Ready / Phil Roeder / Flikr / CC BY 2.0

Working in the shadows

A look at the lives of custodians

March 2, 2022

Showing up at 4 a.m. and leaving late at night, pushing to finish grueling work throughout the day, and leaving without a single thank you sounds almost unimaginable for many people. However, this is the reality of the work-life for many custodians.

The typical custodian works weeks much longer than 40 hours and has a highly labor-intensive job. Many custodians also receive little to no recognition for their hard work, which keeps the school running and provides a safe and clean environment for students and teachers each day.

The custodial staff is very essential to the operations of our school ”

— Ralph Crame

“The custodians are in charge of keeping the campus clean; they are in charge of making sure the students have a safe and clean environment each day and to make sure that our facility is taken care of when necessary,” Carlmont’s former Principal Ralph Crame said.

For the significant role the custodial staff at our school plays, it seems as if they do not receive the proper credit. Many students do not understand the volume of work the custodians are responsible for. 

“I really never thought about how much the custodians are responsible for at our school; for the large quantity they have, they still have a good quality of work from what I have seen,” sophomore Prithvi Dixit said.

Although most do not acknowledge or understand the work of Carlmont’s custodial staff and custodians everywhere, some try their best to recognize them.

“I try to recognize them as much as possible, but they do not receive the recognition they deserve,” Crame said.

Custodians play a much more significant role in students’ lives than they realize. Steven D. Gilsdorf, Certified Educational Facilities Professional credential (CEFP), showed a significant correlation between a clean environment and student success. When custodians provide students with a clean environment on a day-to-day basis, students have a much higher chance of success in school.

“I firmly believe that there is a correlation between having a clean and safe environment and student success, which is all thanks to our custodians,” Crame said.

In addition to the data, many students feel they are more successful when in a clean and safe environment.

“I feel much more focused, comfortable, and concentrated when I walk into a class, and I do not have to worry about cleaning up for the people before me; I can just focus on learning,” Dixit said.

The process required to keep such an environment is highly taxing to create. Custodians work long hours and have an immense workload, especially when employed at schools with extensive campuses like Carlmont.

Small Business (600 x 1500 px) by Austin Brazil

“We have nine custodians; our custodians are very challenged with the staffing they have,” Crame said.

The custodians are assigned a specific route of classes each day and night; they must make sure the classes are clean and safe for students every day. Custodians have additional responsibilities besides just cleaning classrooms.

“The custodians are responsible for cleaning up after school events; they are also responsible for general maintenance around the school,” Crame said.

Specifically for our custodians at Carlmont, their responsibilities have significantly increased as Carlmont has added the F-wing and S-wing in the last 20 years. The two buildings add about 40 classes to the workload of the custodians. 

“The workload of our custodians has really increased as we have added many new buildings in the past years,” Crame said.

With all the work custodians have, the least students can do is try and make their jobs easier. Simply picking up trash after lunch or grabbing something on the way to class can save hours for custodians, as that is nearly 2,500 fewer pieces of trash they are responsible for. Even a simple thank you holds much weight to custodians, as they receive little praise for their hard work, which is highly essential to our school.

“Students could gain some self-awareness to maybe just pick up after themselves, or take the extra step and throw [their trash] in the garbage can instead of dropping it where they are,” Crame said.

Custodians at our school also feel that students do not have the self-awareness to throw away their trash.

“Students really have to go out of their way to not throw away trash at this campus; there are trash cans at every corner,” Amilcar Sagrero, a custodian at Carlmont said.

Overall, custodians are essential to keeping a clean and safe environment at our school.

“They work really hard to make this a good environment for everybody,” Crame said.

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