Thousands of Westport students return to school this week. They’ll be greeted by hundreds of administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals who work hard to help our youngsters grow into wise, empathetic and confident adults.
Those students and staff work every day in buildings that are maintained with skill and care by men and women we always see, but seldom acknowledge. Often, we look right past — or through — our custodians.
David Johnson did not. A retired administrator from upstate Connecticut, he has spent the past 7 summers traveling to Westport to run a certification coach for area middle and high school coaches.
The other day, he wrote to Staples principal James D’Amico:
I have come to enjoy my journey to Westport. I am also enriched by being able to share important knowledge and information with those working with our student-athletes. What I have come to look forward to the most, however, is my interaction with your custodial staff directed by Horace Lewis.
I travel to numerous high school facilities to teach these classes throughout the year. Nowhere is there a custodial staff as professional and welcoming as the one at Staples. I am always greeted with a smile, which makes me feel like I am visiting family.
Horace is there to meet my needs, making sure I have whatever is necessary. Then he asks what more he can do. He and/or one of his staff check and make sure we are ready to go. He checks with us during the class, and also at the end.
It is not easy to go into someone else’s facility and use unfamiliar equipment. But I never have a concern at Staples. I always know I have the support of Horace, Tom Cataudo and their staff.
We have no problem complaining when something is not right or does not go well. Therefore I feel we have an obligation to recognize work that goes “above and beyond” the call of duty. After 35 years in public education, I know that these individuals (especially a custodial staff like yours) are the lifeblood of the school community. You are most fortunate.
Thank you again for not only sharing your facility with us, but also for sharing such professional staff as well. Best wishes for a great school opening, and an even better school year.
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