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Honoring those who maintain our learning spaces

Oct. 2 is National Custodian Appreciation Day, and we could not be more thankful for our custodial staff. They are on the front lines of student safety, making sure campuses are secure and clean to allow our teachers to teach and our students to learn. 
We visited with a couple of our campus custodians to learn about their work and what they love about their jobs. 
From the SAISD Familia, thank you to all of our custodians. We appreciate all you do.


Ms. Ponce WhittierBeing at Whittier Middle School is a homecoming of sorts for Maribel Ponce. The veteran head custodian came to work at Whittier two decades after her son attended there.


Now, working in the same neighborhood where she still lives, Ponce prides herself on the work she and her team do each day for the Whittier community. 


“My goal is to make the campus clean and safe and a healthy environment for all the students and staff and the community,” Ponce said. 


Ponce and a team of five other custodians work diligently each day to make sure that the environment is ready for learning. They rely on teamwork and communication to help each other, sharing in the work and the rewards of the job.


“I have a good team, a very good team,” Ponce said. “They help me a lot. I tell them ‘thank you for everything you do for the campus.’ When the teachers tell me the school looks good, I always tell them to let the rest of the custodians know as well, because we all work together.” 


Ponce normally works days, but often stays late to help the team. 


“She has the strongest work ethic I’ve ever experienced during my professional career,” principal Mandie Holtsford said. 


As the days go by, Ponce said she’ll do whatever it takes to keep the school clean and safe, but her favorite thing is to clean is restrooms. 


“I love to clean restrooms,” she said. “The kids need to use them, so it’s very important to clean the restrooms really well, to make sure they are disinfected, clean, and ready for another day.”


Ponce's days pass quickly. The work is good exercise, she says, and she loves what she does.


“I like my work. I like to clean. I love it,” Ponce said. “This is something I want to do every day.”



Mr. Ramirez Graebner ElementaryRudy Ramirez has been at Graebner Elementary School for eight, going on nine years. What he loves most about working at the elementary school is the students. 


“I love the kids,” Ramirez said. “I’ve known a lot of them, since I’ve been here since they were little. They’re real loving kids. They make you feel special. They thank you for what you do.”


Ramirez lives only a mile and a half from the school, so he sees Graebner families in the community often. 


“They recognize me every time I’m at HEB,” he said. “I’ll come back the next day, and they’ll say, ‘I saw you!’ or they’ll be in there like, ‘mom, that’s our custodian!’ I can’t go anywhere around the neighborhood without them recognizing me.”


On a normal day, he cleans the second through fifth grade classes upstairs, so he has seen a lot of students grow older over the years. He always prioritizes their learning areas. 


“I just work to make sure they have a clean desk, clean rooms, make sure the restrooms are clean and that they have toilet paper and paper towels — that they are ready for the next day,” he said.


Ramirez works alongside a staff of six total custodians at Graebner, and he typically works 2:30-11 p.m., but will come in early when needed.


“It’s a really good team here,” he said. “Everybody is always ready to help out. Any time you need help, it’s teamwork, we’ll get together and do it all together.”


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