A look into the life of custodial worker Shameka Wilson



With a broomstick in one hand, Shameka Wilson poses along the staircase of the East Annex leading towards the cafeteria. She usually checks in with students eating lunch and encourages them to clean up after themselves when necessary.

Behind the scenes of every functioning establishment is a group of people who work tirelessly to maintain the grounds and conditions. At White Station High School, custodial workers employed by SKB Facilities and Maintenance promote cleanliness and support the students beyond what their duties entail on paper. Shameka Wilson has been a custodian for only one year, and her hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, she finds herself on campus until nearly 9 p.m. every day picking up slack. 

“I came to help out, and then it turned into me working,” Wilson said. “I don’t regret taking this job because I get to meet the kids and talk to them. I like it.”

Even with increased hours, cleaning protocols and sanitization implemented due to COVID-19, Wilson’s main work challenge comes from the actions of high school students, especially when she must tackle intentional messes in the restroom.  

“I work for a high school, but when it comes to the restrooms, I believe I’m with elementary kids because [the students are] old enough to know better … but somehow the boom boom [stool] ends up on the wall or the floor,” Wilson said. “I have a 7 year old [son] at home, and I don’t even do this with my own child.”

In spite of these incidents, Wilson remains motivated by considering that there are people at her son’s school doing the same thing to maintain a healthy environment.  


“I do my best for the kids, and I know I have one myself, so I just say to myself, ‘I hope the cleaning crew over there is doing the same thing I’m doing for my son, and I got other people’s kids here,’” Wilson said.

Custodial workers constantly have responsibilities to fulfill in the cafeteria, hallways and restrooms, but Wilson still finds the time to make connections with students. 

“One child I had seen crying, and I kind of calmed her down and asked her what was going on, so I get to interact with [students] and talk to ‘em,” Wilson said. “And I don’t want to say I saved someone’s life, but I saved that person from whatever they were going through that day.”

Although her job doesn’t call for it, Wilson feels that the most rewarding aspect of her job is being able to guide developing teenagers and act as a positive influence.

“I always call the girls pretty, so they can think highly of themselves and don’t need a guy to tell them,” Wilson said. “I always say their outfit looks cute, and I do that to the guys too, but definitely for the girls, so they don’t think they have to run to a man. I talk to them as a friend, not a paycheck because I’m not a counselor, so what I’m saying comes from the heart because I’m not getting paid for it.”

Students can confirm the effect these words have on them even through brief encounters or if they do not personally know the person who says the compliment. 

“I remember we had a bunch of conversations, and it was just nice when someone you’re not familiar with compliments you,” Riya Pramod (12) said. “I think the act in itself of connecting with students is very sweet, and it’s just reassuring to hear that [your outfit looks nice] from someone else.”

Offering a greater demonstration of respect to the workers who preserve the image of the school and take time out of their days to improve others’ lives is only one of a few steps for students to make a difference.  

“People underestimate their importance, [and] from my experience, people don’t really pay much attention to custodial workers,” Dustin Bobo (9) said. “I think people should thank them more often because they make sure the entire school is clean.”