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Custodian impacts lives at Bridgeport Public Schools

November 16, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — While the students and teachers are working hard in the classroom, a team roams through the halls of Bridgeport Public Schools ensuring the school is clean and that the needs of the staff and students are met. Long after the school day comes to an end, head custodian Janice Macomber cleans the gym and prepares for the next day.

Macomber started helping at Bridgeport Public Schools 30 years ago as a parent volunteer in the school library. She then started to work part-time for the janitorial team.

“That’s what got my foot in the door for working at the school,” she said. “It was probably about 5 years later when I started working full-time and it’s just been that way the last 18 years, working full-time.”

Other than wanting to keep an eye on her children, Macomber became involved in the district because she enjoys engaging with people. For the past four years, Macomber has served as the head custodian, which she said has taught her about herself. She likes to be organized and when she sets her schedule, she works to get the tasks accomplished.

“I have a lot more patience than I thought I would,” she said. “I also learned to be flexible to work around summer athletic camps and school programs.”

On average, Macomber spends 9 to 10 hours a day at the school when there are no school activities. During the summers, though, she spends several days at the school buffing the floors to make sure they are properly finished.

“It’s hardwork, but it’s fulfilling to see your accomplishments.”

Aside from her custodial duties, Macomber also cooks. She makes chips, salsa, soups, and cinnamon rolls that she shares with the staff. Her salsa is a popular item, so much so that she prepares three gallons a month. It takes her about 20 minutes to prepare 2 gallons.

Her salsa is so popular with the staff that Macomber was asked to teach a class during the school’s innovation days. Macomber will teach students how to fix salsa.

“It only takes about 20 minutes to make, so they’ll spend an hour eating it,” she said.

During her time interacting with the students, Macomber hopes the students gain respect for themselves and the people around them, so it keeps them from bullying. She also hopes to inspire them to achieve their goals.

“Hopefully, I get the idea across that if they really want to do something, they can do it,” said Macomber. “You just have to work hard for it.”

The staff also know where to go for goodies. Macomber always has goodies in her office and purchased coffee for 12 years for the teachers’ lounge.

“All of those things she did and just happened that nobody really knew who did them, that was Janice,” said elementary reading teacher Deanne Bilby.

While Macomber and her custodial staff work around the clock to allow teachers and students to learn in a safe environment, their efforts do not go unnoticed.

“We just had our Veterans Day program and I couldn’t do it without this lady right here,” said Bilby, who also serves as the chairman on the Veterans Day committee. “They are the unsung heroes who don’t get the recognition that Mrs. Bilby and the rest of the Veterans Day committee gets.”

Bilby described Macomber as the nuts and bolts of the school because she can fulfill the custodial, maintenance and kitchen duties, and when she can’t, she finds someone who can help.

As Macomber’s time with the district winds down, her impact on the staff and students has not only helped further the education of the students, but also impacted her.

“This place has really been a blessing to me.”

Macomber’s role may be primarily as a custodian, but her ability to connect with others and share her passion to accomplish what she sets out to will continue to impact the lives of all who know her.

lauren.brant@starherald.com

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