LASA Custodian Appreciation

Spotlighting those who keep our school spotless

Graphic by Alexandra Valencia

Graphic by Alexandra Valencia

James Graham, Staffer

Austin Independent School District (AISD) employs 3,866 custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and educational aides, and make up a significant portion of LASA’s staff, according to the AISD website. Even though students see custodians almost every day, many students do not know much about the personal lives of custodians and what they think about working at LASA.

This year is custodian Lorena Gomez’s ninth year working as a custodian at LASA and has become a crew leader, meaning that she has four other custodians whose responsibilities she manages and oversees. Although her job is stressful, she enjoys it and would not change anything about it if she could.

“I don’t think I would change anything,” Gomez said. “I like working at LASA. I enjoy doing that for you. Having a clean school for you all, a clean desk for you all to sit, a clean classroom, when you’re walking through, the floor is clean, I enjoy doing that. And I enjoy seeing your faces every day and the activities that you do. I like what I do. I like the people I work with. It’s stressful, I’m not going to say it’s not, because sometimes being a supervisor is not easy.”

Gomez regards LASA students as relatively respectful compared to other schools she has worked at. However, she would appreciate it if students would pick up after themselves more often. 

“[Students] could probably pick up after themselves,” Gomez said. “Not all of them [litter]. Some of them are really respectful and pick up after themselves, and that really helps us a lot. For example, sometimes we go into classrooms and clean and students pick up their chairs and other things that are very helpful for me and my coworkers.”

Gomez has a variety of interests outside of her work. At home, Gomez enjoys spending time with her family.

“We have a family of five,” Gomez said. “It’s mainly me, my husband, and my three kids. I have two boys and a girl…In the free time that I have, I spend it mostly with my family. I like playing basketball and soccer with my kids.” 

Ismael Simentales is another member of Lorena’s custodian crew, and he has been working as an AISD custodian for 21 years. Simentales enjoys working at LASA because of the students and the way the school treats them.

“I like that LASA takes care of their students, and I enjoy keeping the school clean for them,” Simentales said. “When I am not working, I like to go on vacation with my family and play soccer.”

The Peer Assistance, Leadership, and Service (PALS) program made appreciation posters for each custodian for custodian appreciation day on Oct. 2. PALS teacher Joseph Pendell said he was glad the students were able to show support for the custodians. 

“It was requested that we do it from a parent who was doing custodian appreciation,” Pendell said. “And before we go off campus when we’re in training, we have time to work with the animal shelter or with Meals on Wheels, and we have different community activities that we get involved with, so I thought this one is a good one for the custodians.”

Pendell thinks that LASA students treat custodians well in general. However, he acknowledges that there is room for improvement when it comes to students picking up after themselves.

“By and large, I think [the students] are great, but there’s an issue with some entitlement of feeling that the custodian should pick up their trash when it is so much easier to do it yourself,” Pendell said. “Don’t think that someone’s supposed to pick up your trash, and I understand as high school students, people aren’t always aware of that. But it just makes it a nicer place to be thankful for what you have.”