The Beacon
RSS Feed

Custodian Steve James: Wilson’s Guardian Angel


Photo by: Joey Keegan, Photo Editor

When looking at Wilson, it is hard to say who among the staff of hard-working individuals can be credited most with keeping our great school intact. Some would claim it is Principal Pete Cahall. Others might argue that it is any one of the deans or administrators. But very few recognize the custodial staff as playing a crucial role in keeping the school running.

You’ve all seen them; they walk around at STEP, picking up trash and making small talk with students, but there is much more to their job than just this. We had a chance to sit down with one of our school’s custodians, Steve James, and learn a bit about his life and job.

James grew up in D.C. and attended H.D. Woodson, where he played football, basketball and was a member of the swim team, which occasionally practiced at the Wilson pool. Little did he know, he was swimming at the school he would work for and love years later.

“I like to experience different schools,” James said. In his 18 years with DCPS, he has worked at a number of schools, including Phelps, Ballou, Anacostia, Coolidge, and now Wilson, which has been his home for the past six years.

Through all this experience, he still claims that the craziest moment was seeing Cahall dress up on Wacky Tacky Day. “That was wild,” said James.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, James keeps the atrium, the cafeteria, and the kitchen clean. He is easy to spot in either a Washington Redskins or Green Bay Packers jersey. “The Skins [are] my number one, but I still like the Packers as a number two,” he said. He loves talking football with anyone who will listen.

On top of all this, he plays a major role in making sure kids get to class. “Ushering you kids to your classrooms and just working with y’all in general is my favorite part of my job,” he said.

His least favorite part, he explained with a chuckle, is “cleaning this joint up after y’all!”

“Wilson is a nice school, it is where I’d like to retire.”

If he ever does, Wilson might have trouble filling the void he will leave.