The Custodi-Allen


Luke Goodman

From 7:59 am to 2:33 pm, over 1200 students walk in and out of the doors of Great Neck South High School, along with hundreds of teachers and other faculty members. Throughout the day, our school accumulates a hefty amount of debris and general aspects of uncleanliness. While our beloved custodians clean what they can, it’s hard to do so efficiently in a building full of high school students. At the end of the school day, there remains loads of work that needs to be completed. This is where the night custodians play a vital role in the wellbeing of our school and its students.

Kimlee “Kim” Allen is one of those night custodians. Many of you might recognize her as the woman who exiles you from the 600’s and 700’s hallways after school. However, she doesn’t do that to be mean or controlling. Technically, she has no legal authority to watch over students like a teacher or security guard can. So, Ms. Allen is actually required to remove all unsupervised students from the areas that she needs to clean, including hallways, bathrooms, and classrooms. But what sectors of South High is Ms. Allen responsible for?

On a typical school night, there are an average of seven custodians in the building. As a team, they are required to clean the entirety of the school, splitting the work evenly amongst themselves. Ms. Allen is responsible for the 500s classrooms and staircase, the hallway leading from the 500s to the 600s, the 600s hallway and classrooms, the 600s bathroom, the staircase leading from the 600s to the east gym, and the hallway of the 700s. Ms. Allen arrives at 3:15, fifteen minutes before she is scheduled to work. She plants her custodial cart by the math office and walks down the 700s hallway, up towards the main hall. She makes three total rounds to each classroom throughout the course of the evening; the first round is solely dedicated to taking out garbage, erasing whiteboards, and clearing pencil-sharpener shavings. Also on the first round, she simultaneously checks all classrooms for major spills. She then begins the second round, which includes retrieving her cart and cleaning tables, wiping down sinks, dusting the windows and blinds, and sweeping all classroom floors. On the third round, she mops each and every classroom floor to squeaky-clean completion. After this, she has no further contact with any of the classrooms for the night, as only the stairwells and hallways remain uncleaned. Starting at the 500s staircase, Ms. Allen sweeps and mops, and does the same for the hallway going from the staircase leading to the 600s hallway. She repeats this process for the 600s hallway, while mopping and sanitizing the 600s boys restroom along the way. Bathrooms are by far her least favorite part of the job, for reasons I hope most of you can infer. Finally, she repeats the process of sweeping and mopping once more for the 600s staircase and 700s hallway. 

Even being condensed into a singular paragraph, you can’t help but notice the magnitude of Ms. Allen’s job requirements. She has an extensive amount of ground to cover, and sometimes spends more than eight hours doing so. Her standard work hours are 3:30 PM to 11:30 PM, but on certain nights, she doesn’t leave the building until 12:30 AM. To many people, these might seem like difficult hours to work, but to Ms. Allen, that’s just one of the many perks of the job. Working nights allows her to fulfill responsibilities during the day, which includes spending quality time with her pitbull boxer, Peteylee. Ms. Allen also finds cleaning therapeutic, so she finds great tranquility and satisfaction in her job. She describes herself as  the type of person who likes to, “look at something dirty, clean it, and look back and see how much better it is because of me” She loves and takes pride in the work that she does, and always gives 100% effort and devotion towards it. Ms. Allen’s dedication didn’t just begin at South High in October of last year; it’s something she’s carried with her throughout her entire career. 

Prior to the start of her employment at South High, Ms. Allen worked at Saddle Rock elementary school for 5 years, as a custodian for the kindergarten section. Before her custodial endeavor, she worked at various NYC office buildings as a building engineer. Ms. Allen is HVAC (Heat, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) certified in New York City. This means that she is authorized to install, replace and remove these types of appliances (in the city of course.) 

Ms. Allen is a decorated and kind-hearted custodian, a person, whose priorities lie in the safety and cleanliness of our school for the students who attend it. She is one of the many underrepresented faculty members of South High School, and it’s unfortunate that so much of her hard work goes unnoticed. Remember, our school is only as dirty as we choose to leave it. Make the custodian’s lives easier, and clean up after yourself throughout the day. If you ever see Ms. Allen after school, be sure to say hello, and just say thank you for the work that she does.