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Bulloch's Unsung Heroes: Langston Chapel Elementary’s ‘Clean Team’

Custodial crew part of the school’s extended family

Bulloch's Unsung Heroes: Langston Chapel Elementary’s ‘Clean Team’

Bulloch's Unsung Heroes: Langston Chapel Elementary’s ‘Clean Team’

The “Clean Team” is shown at Langston...


Note: The following is part of an occasional series about “unsung heroes” in the Bulloch County school system.

At Langston Chapel Elementary School, Principal Karen Doty has assembled what she believes is the perfect “Clean Team.” This group, she says, “gives our children the cleanest environment possible.”

Head custodian Doris McCollum leads the team, which also consists of Jean Whitlock, Mickey Pryor and “Mr. Kenny” Jones.

They have made Langston Chapel Elementary the “brightest school I’ve ever seen,” Doty said. “They are a well-oiled machine.

“They scrub not only the tops but clean the bottoms of the lunch tables as well,” she continued. “Our school's windows are always spotless. Sometimes, people are afraid to go out in the halls because they think they're still wet.”

McCollum has worked in the Bulloch County school system for 29 years. She started as a paraprofessional at Stilson Elementary, moved to Nevils Elementary as a custodian, and then moved up to head custodian at Langston Chapel Elementary five years ago.

However, she isn’t even the veteran of the group. Pryor has worked for Bulloch County Schools for 37 years, starting her career at the old William James School on Williams Road.

The other two members are relative newcomers: Whitlock worked at the old Julia P. Bryant Elementary School for 12 years, left to work at Georgia Southern University for five years, and then returned to LCES, where she has worked for four years.

“Mr. Kenny,” as he is fondly known, worked as a machine operator until he came to Langston Chapel two years ago.
McCollum said that most men don’t know how to clean, “but Mr. Kenny is the exception, because he can clean as good as any lady I know.”

Jones said he doesn’t care what job he is given. Except, that is, for the bathrooms.

“I don’t love the bathrooms; no, I don’t,” he said.

McCollum quickly chimed in, “But he sure does love to vacuum.”

The four say they work so well together because Langston Chapel Elementary is one huge extended family. Many have or have had grandchildren, nieces and nephews at the school.

“These are my babies,” Pryor said.

“Mr. Kenny,” she added, “he likes to go around and rub the kids on the head, you know, because he thinks of them as his kids, too.”

When asked what she likes to do best, she looked around, smiled and declared, “I've done did it all here, so I don’t care what I got to do.”

They do have a schedule, however. Pryor works from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and her main responsibility is the “200,” or “Central,” Hall.

Both McCollum and Whitlock come in and “open up” the school at 6:30 a.m. and work until 2:30 p.m. They both agreed, however, that they usually come in closer to 5:30 a.m.

Believe it or not, their workday doesn’t end at Langston Chapel Elementary. Former Southeast Bulloch High School Principal Tom Bigwood, who now serves as the superintendent of the Candler County School District, convinced them to come and clean several Metter schools as well. They don’t finish there any earlier than 7 p.m.

Asked what would possess them to work such a long and arduous schedule, they both smiled and said almost simultaneously, “Cleaning is my life.”

When asked if there was anything they didn't like about the job, the answer was unanimous: stripping the floors.

Oh, and they would like to get paid more than once a month.

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