Stepping Up to Serve
DISTRICT | April 22, 2020
Stepping Up to Serve

A Glimpse into the Remarkable Contributions of CPS Security Officers and Custodians 

This week, CPS is highlighting its amazing food service workers, custodians, security guards, and nurses who have selflessly served their school communities during the closure. Check our blog for a new story each day.

As a security officer at Richardson Middle School in Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood, Adan Garcia’s role typically revolves around supporting the safety of the school’s 1,100 students. It’s a job that means a lot to him as a resident of the community himself. He’s an integral part of the school dynamic when Richardson is brimming with students learning, but, as Principal Marie Clouston puts it, he might be even more important while the school is closed. 

“There is no better word to describe my security officers than awesome. They know the parents. They know the community, and they’ve been here helping out even when it’s snowed,” she said. “They’ve been instrumental in handing out meals, and I know that our school could not have distributed devices to families without them.” 

Even though he’s had to play a new role with each week—first helping provide families with grab-and-go meals and then distributing devices to help students learn remotely—Mr. Garcia says he is still in good spirits because he knows he is actively making a difference in West Lawn every day. 

“I want my community to know that we will be here to help out with whatever they need,” he said. “Working together has been so important, and while I’m happy to serve now, I know I will be even more happy to see my students together again.”

Over at Oriole Park Elementary on the Northwest Side, Principal Tim Riff says that his school’s closure has illustrated the importance of another group of heroes: his custodians. 

“My custodians have been indispensable since the first day of the school closure,” he said. “They have disinfected the entire school and continue to work hard deep cleaning every inch of it, and their dedicated efforts are inspiring and deeply appreciated.” 

Javier Gomez, a custodian at Oriole Park, says that while cleaning an entire school building may seem like an immense effort, having the support of school administration and his hardworking colleagues has been extremely important. His team of three staff members has separated the building into assigned sections to clean and disinfect, ensuring that no part of the school is overlooked. And no matter what he’s focusing on each day, Mr. Gomez says everything ties back to the students. 

“While this is a tough situation, serving our school during this time shows our commitment to the school community,” he said. “We’re all doing our best to keep our school clean, and I hope the students can return soon. We’re used to seeing them, and we miss them.” 

Across the district, our custodians have cleaned more than 49,000 classrooms and other school spaces since the state-mandated closure. 

Even though remote learning means that our school buildings are not currently open for students, it’s important to remember that they are not empty. Our security officers and custodians have continued to report to the schools they love, all to serve our students and their families. Behind every strong school district is an even stronger team of people who care.