By Erica Thomas, managing editor
MOODY — When you think back to your elementary or high school days, you often think about teachers and classmates. But there are also those “essential employees” inside schools that we remember, such as lunchroom ladies and custodians. One custodian in Moody is that person. That person many children will never forget, and he is doing much more than cleaning floors, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnny Williams, of J Williams Janitorial Service, LLC, has been contracted to clean all of the schools in Moody for the past eight years. Over those years, he has seen children grow into teenagers and teenagers turn into adults. His goal is to brighten long days and put smiles on tiny faces. After schools closed due to the coronavirus, Williams didn’t stop his mission.
“We still have teachers at the school or some students have come to get things out of their lockers,” said Williams. “So, there are still a lot of things we are doing at the school.”
With growing concern about the spread of coronavirus, Williams and his crew have continued to go into schools daily and disinfect classrooms, libraries, offices, bathrooms, hallways and other areas of the school.
“I go around and spray anywhere they have been,” Williams explained. “We also have parents and kids coming to pick up their assignments. Every time someone comes, I go and spray to make sure the parents don’t get infected.”
Williams has also been there to help teachers pass out lunches for students. Of course, he added a little extra spirit to the process by working as a DJ to bring music to the operation. See video below.
“The teachers love it,” Williams said. “Hey, anything to bring enjoyment in times like this, ‘hey I’m with it!”
Williams said passing out lunches to students gives him the chance to see the kids that he misses.
“It’s like a big family,” he said. “The kids, I love them and they love me. Pretty much, I will do anything I can to keep them on track and keep them safe. They love Mr. Johnny. It’s heartbreaking because it’s so hard for me to not see them now.”
While handing out meals, Williams said one child, who was only about six or seven-years-old, pulled on his heartstrings.
“One student came up and said he missed us,” Williams remembers. “He said he wanted to come back to school. That touched my heart.”
Williams said he misses having lunch with the kids. While they were in school, he would have teachers pick a group for him to eat with. They would talk about school and life.
“I try to be family-oriented that way everybody can talk to me,” he said. “I leave myself open in case there is a problem, then you can come to me and I will take care of it.”
When Williams learned some students and their families tested positive for coronavirus, he went one step further and took food to their house. He said he wanted to make sure they had a hot meal since they are unable to leave their homes.
“This is what we are supposed to do, as Christians,” Williams said. “Faith is the only thing we have. It’s something that we really don’t know but we have to trust in God and know that everything is going to work out.”
After years of working with educators, Williams said his hope is that all staff in schools are given the appreciation they deserve.
“You wouldn’t believe the time that they spend trying to prepare things for kids, off the clock,” he said. “The things they do to try to help them prepare for life. That’s an awesome job.”
Williams said his crew is being safe while cleaning, by wearing masks. He hopes his story will inspire others to do good things.
“It doesn’t cost you anything to be nice,” said Williams. “You never know how somebody’s day has been. Remember, this too shall pass.”
He also said instead of complaining about being stuck at home, it’s important for parents and students to appreciate time with their family.