Custodians’ Kudos

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.

Staples' popular head custodian Horace Lewis leads a great staff.

Staples’ popular head custodian Horace Lewis leads a great staff.

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.

Shift supervisor Tom Cataudo and maintenance head Horace Lewis greet the staff and students during the 2015 graduation processional.

Shift supervisor Tom Cataudo and maintenance head Horace Lewis greet staff and students during the 2015 graduation processional.

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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15 responses to “Custodians’ Kudos

  1. Marcia Wright

    Although now retired from more than three decades of teaching in Westport, I do want to share that, no matter what school I was assigned to, I found the custodians and maintenance personnel 100% helpful.

  2. Anthony Palmer

    Way to go ladies and gentleman, Thank you

  3. Dorrie Barlow Thomas

    “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.” That is a beautiful sentiment. Imagine if everyone complimented as much as they complained (and, specifically, complimented those they complain about)?! Miraculous concept!

  4. I was just thinking about everyone going back to school. It’s good to see everyone recognized. I taught art for many many years and I always felt that the custodians in my school were my partners in the trenches. We supported each other. Thanks to everyone out there in the teaching world working together to help educate our kids!

  5. I’ve organized an event in the Staples cafeteria for each of the past three years. Every time I’ve been impressed by Horace and his team. They do an amazing job of preparing the space and are attentive to every detail. Nothing is a problem for them, and they provide great service with a wonderful positive attitude. Thanks to them all for making Staples a better place for our kids and the Westport community!

  6. Michele Wrubel

    A standing ovation from Staples Players to Horace and his team! We couldn’t put up a show without them.

  7. Great post.

  8. Horace and Tom have been amazing in their assistance and support of the Staples Football and other sports teams. They always go the extra mile to make sure everything is perfect. Its not an easy job and they are incredible nice and always go the extra mile.

    Thank you

  9. Don Bergmann

    Always terrific to be able to be complimentary. Fine story, well justified. I think our Town Hall custodians also do an excellent job. Don Bergmann

  10. Horace has never failed to be responsive, helpful and reliable when I’ve used his services for many Staples baseball events. Kudos to Horace!!!

  11. I remember Horace very well. He was a great help to the Westport Young Woman’s League when we would put on the Creative Arts Festival. Always personable and friendly. Kudos to Horace and his team.

  12. Horace is awesome as well as all the different shifts of custodians in all our schools.

  13. As secretary to a town board, I often leave meetings at town hall late in the evening and have, on occasion, been the last person out of the building…except for the custodians who have to stay until we are all gone, They are always patient, kind and helpful, which I appreciate very much.

  14. It’s wonderful to see Horace and his staff get the praise they so well deserve! They’ve helped me out on numerous occasions – for science fairs, new teacher welcomes and baseball and ski team events – always with a smile.

  15. Joyce Bottone

    So touching and beautiful to see that someone took the time to recognize the hard work of the custodians at our schools. Too often people look at the finished product and forget to take notice of the time and effort of those involved in creating and maintaining. Bravo for making us all feel a little more human.