Behind The Scenes Magic

Custodians, Food Service prepare each day for students, staff


Carina Camacho

Head Custodian Larry Shaw cleans the cafeteria after the last lunch


Each morning when teachers, students, and staff arrive for another day at school, the halls, classrooms, cafeteria, and gym are somehow magically perfectly clean. 

When students walk into the cafeteria at breakfast and lunch, there’s hot, fresh food ready to fuel their day, and smiling faces waiting to serve them meals.

But this convenient “magic” is actually hours of work, training and skills, manual labor, and a love of the school. One of the people who keeps Klein functioning properly is Maria Mejilla. She is a custodian who said she likes all the tasks she does. She has a variety of duties she accomplishes everyday.

“The first thing I do is change into my uniform, preparing for the day,” Mejilla said. “Then I fill the buckets up with water and I put the mops in and for my colleagues too. Then we clean the tables after the students leave the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch. Once the bell rings and everyone goes to first period, me and my colleagues mop the hallways and pick up the trash. We pick up the garbage from every trash can, then I put bags in all the trash cans from one side of school to the other. Then I check the bathrooms.”

Mejilla said that her kids are what motivate her.

“I feel happy doing my job and it helps me pay my bills. It helps me give my children what they need,” Mejilla said.

Mejilla hopes for the students to value their time at Klein.

“I hope the students that I see everyday do well in life and continue to be good people,” Mejilla said.  “I hope for everyone to get prepared because you need to be prepared intellectually to get a career.”  

Mejilla is not only a custodian, she is a dedicated mother.

“What I wish for my kids, I wish for the students,” she said.

 Head Custodian Larry Shaw has been displaying service and perseverance by working at Klein for 28 years. 

“My favorite part of my job is keeping the school clean for the students, working with my employees,” Shaw said. “[Everyday,] I never know what’s going to happen. There’s always something happening. It’s exciting.”

Shaw comes to work every morning  at 5:45 a.m. with goals he plans to accomplish for the day.

 “[My goal is] to make sure I keep the school clean, the cafeteria, restrooms, clean for the kids,” Shaw said. “We got to maintain the daytime because we have a lot of students in the daytime, so we gotta move along around the clock. When the bell changes we’re moving around checking restrooms or seeing if someone threw something in the hallway.”

Shaw said that Klein High School is what motivates him, partly because he enjoys the company and appreciation of his coworkers.

“My job is important because I like working at Klein High,” Shaw said. “I like working with the teachers, AP’s. It’s just like my home. I’ve been here for so long. Let me put it this way: the AP’s and the teachers all appreciate what I do for the school and when they need me, I’m always there. I’m never where they can’t get in touch with me.  I got my radio there and my cellphone there- everybody knows my cell phone. That’s why I love Klein High.”

The custodians and employees have a unique opportunity to be around the future young adults of society. Shaw said that if there was one thing he hopes the students understand it would be the importance of respect.

“First thing is respect that’s the main thing to get in life is respect,” Shaw said. “That’s how I was raised- respect to all the people and respect to everyone I know.  I’ve been respectful to everyone, that’s how I was brought up, how my parents raised me- to respect people. Some of the kids are very respectful. Sometimes people stray a little bit until you get them on the right road.”

Food Specialist Jana Buchanan has been Klein High School for 21 years. She serves food to students and prepares the food.

 “My favorite part is interacting with my students,” Buchanan said. “I work hard. [On a normal day] I come to work at 5:30 a.m., I do breakfast, I bake, and I come out here and serve the line and meet my students.”

Buchanan chose her current occupation because of her love of kids.

“ My personal goal is to know that I touched someone’s heart,” Buchanan said. “That’s what I love. I love working with kids so that’s why I chose this job. [What motivates me is] my kids and my peers. My job is important because I got to make sure I touch one of yall’s hearts ‘cause when I do see my kids outside of school, they tell me good things that I’ve done for them and that’s one of the things that I love.”

Some of the workers at Klein enjoy their job because of the people they spend time with while working. Cook Alma Rangel‘s favorite part of her job is her friends and coworkers. 

“A normal day for me looks funny, it looks busy, and it we learn a lot,” Rangel said. “Every day we do different things, learn new recipes and sometimes there are new people so we learn how to interact with different coworkers all the time.”

Her goal is to stay punctual and make her food on time.

What motivates me is doing good on my job, doing my recipes right, and making my food nice and tasty,” Rangel said.

Maria Isabelle’s favorite part of the day is serving lunch. What motivates Isabelle is serving the students.

“Every two weeks to a month they change our positions ,” Isabelle said. “When I come to work, I try to make everything well and have everything prepared and make the food good for the students. My job is important because I like to be responsible and to serve the students of the school so y’all will leave school happy”

The employees, custodians, cooks, and staff at Klein are what keep the school functioning properly. They display many of the Klein 5 core values and are examples of service. Sobia Amin is a Food Specialist who cooks and prepares food.

“I have to work fast and focus on my work to finish on time,” Amin said. “I just focus on my work and all the good energy.  This is my work and I love to do it.”