The first day back to school is a new start, a chance to shine your shoes and put your best foot forward.
School buildings are no exception – they need to look their best and operate optimally to maintain environments conducive to success. That means a lot of work goes on behind the scenes during the summer months to make sure everything is ship-shape come the new school year.
“Every classroom is emptied, furniture is turned upside-down and washed; the walls, windows, lights, baseboards are all scrubbed and waxed before everything is moved back in,” explains Drew McConachie, Head Custodian at McKinnon Park Secondary School. “You’re working around other maintenance jobs and schedules during the summer. There’s a real process to it.”
It will be Drew’s “first day of school” at McKinnon Park in September, as he’s made the move to secondary school after many years of working for Grand Erie’s elementary schools. He’s in good company at McKinnon Park, joining Diane Hawke who’s been at the school for the past 13 years.
“You get to know the building inside and out,” says Hawke of her time at the school. “We’re part of a big team. If there’s an issue, you need to know where everything is to solve it.”
During the year, custodians and caretakers keep everything at the school running seamlessly. That means working into the night to ensure the environment is ready for student learning the next day.
“It’s a lot more than just sweeping floors and cleaning washrooms,” says McConachie.
For students and staff, schools are more than just buildings; they’re a home away from home.
“I’m here more than I’m at home most days, so if we can convey to students that this is one big, happy family, I think that’s really important,” McConachie adds.
Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan prioritizes building a culture of care and respect, starting with school sites themselves, improving energy and environmental conservation, and making the best use of space.
“I’m very fussy, which is a good trait for this work,” notes Hawke. “It means I take pride in what I do.”
Thanks to custodial staff like McConachie and Hawke who care for school buildings like their own homes, Grand Erie schools are welcoming environments in which students and staff work and learn. And because of all the hard work that went on this summer, the first day back in Grand Erie is sure to be a success.