When this email is sent out, Sequoia High School Plant Manager Cherry Stephens will already have been at work for two-and-a-half hours. Along with day team members Fine Lauese and Ramiro Macías, Cherry opens the building, checks on the custodial routes from the night crew, addresses urgent problems that may have arisen, and checks her email for requests from Sequoia or district personnel (including her demanding principal).
Sequoia, like any 90-year old campus, is a quirky place. There are almost 100 classrooms whose tenants look to Cherry to resolve any number of issues that arise. A stopped clock, small scurrying feet overhead, a jammed window: Cherry addresses it all before brunch. When a staff member -- heaven forbid -- loses a key, the visit to Cherry's office for a replacement is a dreaded affair. Most of the time, though they deserve a scolding, Cherry is sympathetic while issuing a replacement.
She coordinates efforts with district technology, maintenance, and operations crews to stop leaky pipes, trim insubordinate tree branches, replace floors, or any other number of projects. She supervises a team of eight. Because there are no substitutes when custodians call in sick, Cherry will often stay past the end of her work day to pitch-in on event set-ups or begin her day with a cursory pass through an absent worker's route.
Cherry's professionalism, knowledge, and skill working with people makes her uniquely suited for this challenging job. She is patient and thorough. The construction of the new A-wing over the past year, for instance, has presented Cherry with a series of logistical headaches:
"Cherry, we're going to have to change the location of the dumpsters."
"Cherry, we need to store 2 pianos in your warehouse."
"Cherry, your two primary access routes from the north and south ends of campus are unavailable for two months."
"Cherry, we'll be testing alarms on your last workday before teachers arrive."
These are just a few of the curveballs Cherry's been thrown recently. Each time, she takes the news calmly and goes about making the adjustments she needs to make and communicating with the people she needs to communicate with. If she's frustrated, you'd never know. It takes a lot to make Cherry complain. Unless it's about someone losing their keys. That gets her.
Have a great week (and don't lose your keys!),