Maintaining Rocket High: Getting to know McNicholas custodians


How well do students really know their school custodians?  They walk the halls alongside students and teachers, often spending more time around campus than anyone.  The McNicholas Maintenance Staff works tirelessly each day to keep the school in good and working order, but to students, little is known about who they really are.


Building and Grounds manager, Mike Woodruff, first began his career at McNicholas on a day he fondly remembers: Dec. 9, 1991.  “Immediately, I was struck by the overall atmosphere in the school,” Woodruff said.  “Not only did I know it was going to be a generally fun place to work, but I knew that the staff and students were going to welcome me into what would be my first job with a school.  I felt like I was learning right alongside the students!”


Growing up on a farm in the river town of Moscow, Woodruff received his diploma from New Richmond High School, and went on from there to pursue his home-grown tradition of farming.  It was also in this small town that he and his wife were married and chose to raise their three daughters with the same values and lifestyle that Woodruff learned from an upbringing in the countryside.


“I come from a farm family, and I wanted to be able to share that kind of lifestyle with my own wife and kids,” He said.  “So when I’m not working at McNick, I’m busy running a chicken farm with my family, spending time with my five grandchildren, or working on one of my favorite hobbies, hydroponics – the art of soil-less gardening,”


During his time spent at McNicholas, Woodruff has been there to see multiple generations walking the halls of the school.  According to him, students’ attitudes and sense of respect have improved drastically over the years.


“I never expected it, but kids in this school are much more considerate now than they used to be,” Woodruff said.  “Back in my early days on the job, it was different… they certainly took a lot more time to clean up after!  But today, they’re not a problem at all.  If anything, I’d say that they’ve only been acting kinder to our staff.”


Early in the morning, often before students and faculty arrive at McNicholas, Woodruff and his crew are hard at work, making sure everything is in order.  “I arrive every day at 6 a.m., and leave around 3:30.  Some days I’m here earlier, and some days I work late; weekends are flexible for our staff.” Woodruff explained.


Maintenance worker Fred Ervin, who began working at McNicholas on July 26, 2010, takes the night shift, working from 2:30 to 11:00 each day.  Ervin says the most rewarding aspect of his job is being around the staff and students.


“It’s a wonderful, always positive atmosphere to be able to work in,” Ervin said.  “The faculty members are a joy to be around, and even though I don’t see much of the students, they’re always kind and courteous to the members of our staff,”


Ervin, who grew up in Loveland-Miami area, enjoys spending his spare time attending concerts working with cars of all makes and models.  “Being in maintenance, I’ve taken an even bigger interest in keeping up with vehicles,” He said.  “My career has really helped me expand my horizons.”


Members of the McNicholas Maintenance Crew work long hours, yet gain little recognition from the students they clean up after.  Don’t be afraid to say ‘thank you’ every once and a while – they deserve it

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