During the early hour of 6 a.m. at , it appears to be vacant. All of the classrooms are locked up and no teachers are present. The students have yet to arrive. The only person in sight is Yara Huerta, the school custodian, who is preparing her morning duties before the school day begins. Despite the early hours, she always arrives on time to work and goes beyond what is expected of her.
She has just been selected as Classified’s 2012 Employee of the Year in Maintenance and Operations. The award is given to a classified employee who provides valuable services to schools and staff, contributes to a positive instructional environment and goes above and beyond their job requirements.
In 1989, Huerta, a native of Mexico, moved to the United States in search of a better life. Following her arrival, she was thrilled to find herself hired as a custodian at the Capistrano School District. Six years later, she’s equally thrilled to win an award recognizing the care she takes as George White Elementary School’s custodian.
Huerta lives with her three daughters, the youngest of her daughters is a third grade student at George White Elementary. Huerta works hard as a custodian and tries to instill that same dedication in her children.
“I teach them that nothing is free and that they have to work hard and study,” Puerta said.
Custodial work is traditionally done by males, but Huerta brings a female touch to her job. Every day Huerta arrives early to school, ready to work and with a smile on her face.
George White Elementary’s principal Mike Spelber has seen significant improvements in the cleanliness of the school since Huerta arrived 3 years ago. He considers her an asset to the school.
“A female touch is just what the school needed. She’s great. We’re lucky to have her,” he said.
Keeping the school clean is part of her job, but positive comments are encouraging. Huerta laughs as she recalls the numerous parents who have said that their children go home and tell them how clean the campus restrooms are.
“It’s not a hard thing for me because I really like cleaning,” she said.