“I come to work with a happy face, I leave work with a happy face.”
–Mr. Ramirez, head plant manager
Revealing the darkness behind the custodians’ daily life of trash with wrappers, trays, apple cores, and abandoned milk cartons on the floor at Sonia M. Sotomayor Learning Academies (four high schools and one middle school) that’s kept clean thanks to only eight custodians, we gladly interviewed The Magnificent Eight on a busy day in March.
Mr. Jose Ramirez, the head plant manager and a 28-year veteran of LAUSD Maintenance, cleans up the mess that hundreds of students make each nutrition and lunch period, and that’s a lot for them to take care of.
“Me with other seven other custodians take care of all five schools at Sotomayor, its 23 acres, 2,000 kids and only 8 custodians,” said Mr. Ramirez.
He directs and supervises the other custodians by telling them their daily tasks.
Ruben Sanchez, the assistant plant manager, works with Mr. Ramirez as a sort of tag team: Mr.Ramirez’s shift ends at 2:30 p.m. and Mr. Sanchez’s shifts starts at 2:00 p.m. They have both worked at Sotomayor since it’s opening in fall of 2011.
Mr. Ramirez says he enjoys having this job because he loves being in the outdoors.
“I enjoy the outdoors, I enjoy what I do, I enjoy cleaning up after you guys,” he said.
He has an indoor office as well as an outdoor office but loves to be in the fresh air around others. You can always find him outside with the students doing his job. Mr. Ramirez also enjoys cleaning and seeing the students every day including after school events.
Coming into work he doesn’t like having to deal with the unnecessary problems such as graffiti, but enjoys watching the students grow from their freshmen year to graduation day. The campus has a combination of charter and pilot schools, but Mr. Ramirez says he doesn’t have any problems working with the different colleagues on campus.
He used to be nervous when people from the district came but he doesn’t mind being around LAUSD supervisors. When students have afterschool events, he takes his family into consideration ahead of time by looking at a school-wide calendar, so he may attend both family and school activities.
Mr. Ramirez is worthy of recognition as an Unsung Hero because he takes things to a new level by doing things he doesn’t have to do so that the students can have a safe but fun experience with education. Unfortunately, students and staff don’t always recognize him and the work he and the custodians do.
One of the many things he does is donating things to the campus that will benefit the learning experience for students and events held. He comes in early to open the campus and will close late after school activities, making sure that he puts back the materials he sets up.
When you see Mr. Ramirez and other custodians, make sure that you take your time to stop and talk to them, see how their day is going and tell them thank you for all they do. Let them know you are grateful for the difference they make on campus.