Jackson Custodian of the Year

Becky Jackson, the head custodian at Woodgrove High School, has been named the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Custodian of the Year by the LCPS Department of Support Services.

Jackson shares this year’s award with Marco Mogolbay, the head custodian at Stone Hill Middle School.

Jackson was part of Woodgrove’s inaugural staff and takes exceptional pride in keeping the 9-year-old building looking like new.

Maintaining that look takes an exceptional amount of work.

“Basically, this school doesn’t close; it’s 24 hours. People don’t realize when (students and staff) leave, we’re still here. When they come in, we’re still here. They don’t understand the concept of summer cleaning. What needs to be done, what has to be done in order for them to come back in.”

Jackson and her crew of 12 is now hard at work preparing Woodgrove for the 2019-20 school year. That work began a month before school ended when custodians started cleaning vents and scraping gum off desks, chairs, tables and just about any surface to which it was stuck.

Gum is Jackson’s mortal enemy.

“It’s on the walls, it’s on the floors, it’s under the desks. It’s everywhere.”

Her suggestion for eradicating this problem?

“Use the trash can, or just don’t chew it…It’s not appropriate for people to do that. We’re high school.”

Heavy summer cleaning isn’t something Jackson minds.

“Honestly, I love summer cleaning; that’s my favorite part…

“I like a whole new fresh start. When all the kids come back, when all the teachers come back, it’s just like a big glow. When (the building) is glowing, they’re glowing.”

Getting that glow means moving a lot of furniture followed by a lot of waxing. Custodians begin moving furniture out of classrooms the day after graduation. Then its decided if the floors need to be stripped or top-coated. After that decision comes three coats of wax with a designated drying period before furniture is moved back in.   

“Three coats is a good thing for classrooms. There’s a lot of moving around of furniture. There’s a lot of different types of shoes that scuff across the floors and it gives it a great shine.”

Having a great team makes doing this kind of work in an efficient manner possible, Jackson added. “They don’t wait to be told to do something. They’re right there. They’re a great team.”

Jackson works from 3 to 11 p.m. during the school year.

“When I first started here nine years ago, it was very hard. I hadn’t worked for 13 years. Leaving my kids at home; that was pretty hard. First two weeks was really hard. They adjusted, I adjusted; since then everything’s been fine.”

The advantage of working nights?

“My husband works day shift, I work night shift,” Jackson said laughing. (Actually, she said having the building clear of people for the most part lets her get done what has to be done.)

During the summer, Jackson and her crew work from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. After the third day, she said they’ve usually adjusted to the new schedule.

Jackson still hasn’t quite adjusted to being named Custodian of the Year.

“I was surprised, because I know there are a lot of great head custodians out there. For me to get that, I was actually overwhelmed. I come in just to do my job; to make things right for the kids and right for the school. That’s how I look at things.”

Woodgrove Principal Sam Shipp said Jackson is very deserving of the award.

“I can’t say enough about what the head custodian does for the school…You have to have somebody who you can work with side-by-side. They know the big picture…

“Ms. Jackson epitomizes all of that. Her flexibility, knowledge, collaborative efforts; she is a great leader for her team. She is a great leader for her school. She is dependable; people know they can count on her. You can tell she has a passion for her job. She takes ownership of this school. She views this as a reflection on what she and her team do.”