The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Making campuses sparkle priority of custodial staff

By Karen Gavis/managing editor

Even though Ed Rocha is now an account manager, every so often, he will join the dozens of other custodians who help make TCC shine.

Ed Rocha goes over safety procedures with NE custodian Isabell Solis. Rocha says keeping campuses clean is only part of the custodial staff’s responsibilities. They also look out for safety and repair issues.
David Reid/The Collegian

Rocha said he helps out wherever needed, and this may include cleaning classrooms, emptying trash, buffing floors or cleaning up spills.

“I don’t know why they let them [students] drink in the classrooms, but they do,” he said.

Rocha said the custodial crew does more than just clean. Before faculty arrive in the morning, they know what is working and what is not and will inform the plumbers and electricians, he said. They also turn in items that students have left in classrooms to lost and found. Rocha said special care is taken at NE’s child care center to make sure the facility is properly disinfected, electrical outlets are plugged and everything is clean and safe.

“I’m proud of what I do because the school looks clean,” he said. ”It smells fresh. It looks nice.”

An account manager on NE and South campuses, Rocha was among the first group of GCA workers on NE Campus, he said. GCA Services Group provides custodial and other services to most of TCC’s campuses by contract. About 30 GCA custodians work on NE.

The custodians all work as a team and will help each other out on other campuses when needed.

NE custodial supervisor Pat Carter has worked at TCC for 23 years and began as a custodian, she said.

“When I first came, I never even knew how to clean,” she said. “They had to teach me the basics.”

When transitioning to GCA, TCC moved workers to other campuses as people retired, and Carter made sure no one lost a job, she said.

Carter said workers also set up tables and chairs for campus events and go out of their way to make sure offices are clean and the college is ready for school the next day.

“We just try to please everybody,” she said.

Mary Martinez manages a crew of 23 custodial workers on SE Campus.

Part of Martinez’ responsibilities include making sure employees have all the supplies, forms and everything else they need to do their jobs. She also completes paperwork, records employee time and does payroll. Martinez said it is important to keep the campus as clean as possible.

“The people are important, the employees, she said. “I just represent them.”

Some of the last to leave campus, members of the night custodial crew can sometimes be seen conversing during break on a tailgate in the cool night air or in hallway seating areas. Resting workers will then occupy seats normally filled by students while evidence of their labor surrounds them.

Martinez said she has noticed that the employees seem to function more as a unit instead of individually. They try to work together as partners or in groups until the entire job is finished.

“They actually focus in the same direction,” she said. “They always try to do their best.”

Isis Torres, a custodial supervisor on SE Campus, has an ever-present smile. Torres asked that Martinez interpret for her. Yet clearly and without Martinez’ help, she said, “I am proud about my job.”

Martinez joked that this was because Torres worked for her. In reality, though, Torres explained that it was because she has an opportunity to help people, a lot of people.

Martinez said Torres is dependable, comes in everyday and looks to see if anything needs completing from the previous night. She also takes care of the employees and makes sure everyone has everything they need.

“If I have to be away for a day or two or a week, I know everything is going to be fine,” she said.

Torres appeared to be somewhat flattered by Martinez’ comments, but Martinez said they were not compliments.

“It is the truth,” she said. “She is a leader.”

When he first became president on SE, Bill Coppola stopped Martinez one day to say what a great job the employees were doing on campus. The only thing he asked was that he keep seeing those wonderful smiles he sees every morning, Martinez said.

“We all enjoy seeing their smiling faces around campus and their active participation in many of our campus activities,” Coppola said.

The SE maintenance, grounds and custodial personnel are valuable staff members and are responsive, dedicated and friendly, Coppola said.

“All of these individuals take much pride and ownership regarding the condition of our campus,” he said. “We know that the environment where teaching and learning takes place is an important part of student success.”

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