Sean Brown has worked in the Shaker school system for 22 years. This year, he became the high school’s head custodian, replacing Tim Bates, who held the position for 30 years. Before coming to the high school, Brown served as head custodian at Onaway, Fernway and Lomond elementary schools and at the district’s warehouse service center. Brown has a son at Woodbury Elementary School, a daughter at Onaway, where his wife is a teacher, and a son at the high school.
Is this your first time working at the high school?
I’ve been here now for four months. I started at the high school in 1990, and I worked here at that time for maybe six or seven months.
What jobs do you have specifically as the head custodian?
Well, you’re in charge of the building, basically — the maintenance of the building, the cleanliness of the building.
What tasks do custodians perform?
Well regular custodians, we’re continuously working to keep the building clean and safe, basically. Any programs that we have here in the building we have to set up for, break down after they’re done. Any special requests by teachers and administrators as far as tables and chairs, as far as moving copy paper to and from, things like that.
What are uncommon tasks?
A custodian touches every space of this building every night, so every classroom that a student is in, a custodian has cleaned, or affected the heat or air conditioning there.
What do you think about Shaker?
I love Shaker. I’ve been a resident of Shaker for about, maybe 14 years. My kids go to the Shaker school system, so I love the city and the district.
Did you have a different job?
Before [coming to Shaker], I was actually a boiler operator, and it was in training, I did a training stint as a boiler operator with the VA [hospital] in Cleveland before I came to Shaker. And that’s how I got in to Shaker, as a boiler operator. I was the fire man here, for like I said, six months, seven months, and then they made me head custodian.
What influenced you to become a custodian?
Well, let’s see. I was a boiler operator, and that’s where I thought I wanted to go, but the opportunity for responsibility, I guess, is what influenced me to become the head custodian, honestly, because you get to run the building, as far as the set ups, the heating and the cooling. And as a boiler operator, normally, when I was at the VA, you’re concerned only with the boiler room, but as a head custodian, you’re responsible for the entire building.
What does a boiler operator do?
A boiler operator is responsible for maintaining the heat, for heating a building, and also for hot water in the building.
Can you explain how a boiler works?
You heat water to a high temperature until it creates steam. The boiler heats the water and the water goes out into a lot of different lines in the school.
It’s a dangerous job?
Yes, that’s why you have to have someone who’s licensed by the state. There’s a state exam you have to take. Somebody has to be responsible. It’s a closed metal vessel, you’re heating water — so there’s always the chance that if something goes wrong there could be an explosion.
What are the biggest differences between overseeing an elementary school and the high school?
The level of activity. There’s nowhere near the level of activity at the elementary schools that you have at the high school. At the elementary schools you have maybe one major event. At the high school, you have several major events, sometimes going on at the same time.
What did you like the best about the elementary schools?
I guess there’s something to be said about the little kids. To watch them come in as kindergarteners, little children basically, and then they grow up in preparation for going to Woodbury as a fourth grader. To watch that change is something special.
What do you like best about the high school?
The busyness of it. You know, it’s got a vibe. It’s like a happening, it’s like a big city. If you like a big city, then you’d like the high school. There’s always something going on.
What do you like least about the high school?
I can’t say that there’s anything so far, I haven’t been here long enough to say “I really don’t like this.”
What does your son think about having his dad work at his school?
He thinks it’s great. He’s always here interacting with the staff.
Did you have any agreements between you and your son before you started working here?
No, just for him to represent himself and the family in the way that his mother and I taught him to.
Did Mr. Bates give you any advice before he left?
All the time. He and I talked last night, as a matter of fact. It’s too much, you know, trying to learn on my own. He’s been definitely helping me a lot.
What is one thing you want Shaker students to know about you?
I’m glad to be here at the high school. I feel very honored to have been selected by Principal Mike Griffith as the head custodian here at the high school.