Usually, top school administrators and officials are the ones in the limelight, but not all of the individuals that help keep the schools running make it there.
Top left, going clockwise: Janitor Ava Tunstall, bus driver Michelle Woods, cafeteria manager Tonda Pasowicz and crossing guard Denise Franklin all play supporting roles for the Hanover school system.
With the new school year starting Sept. 2, the Herald-Progress spoke with four of the division’s key people; without people like them jobs such as keeping the buildings clean, preparing and serving food and transporting children to and from school could not be accomplished.
Ava Tunstall is among these ranks. A Lee-Davis High School graduate, Tunstall always had a feeling she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps of being a custodian.
Tunstall’s mom worked for Richmond City Public Schools as a custodian for 25 years. Now Tunstall is doing the same type of work full time at Stonewall Middle School and has worked with the Hanover school division for 20 years.
“I’m a cleaning fanatic,” Tunstall said.
She said it’s not just about cleaning and making floors, walls, light fixtures and bathrooms shine, but she feels like she’s making a difference. She said the custodians’ method is to clean the building from top to bottom and make everything spotless.
“Then I can say, ‘Well, hey, I did that,’” Tunstall said.
Part of it, is that Tunstall said she likes to provide a clean, fairly germ-free environment for the children to come to every day.
Each morning during the school year, Tunstall unlocks the doors at 8 a.m. for the flood of students to roll in. She said she loves seeing students’ smiling faces when they come in the morning.
When she isn’t working, Tunstall said she spends a lot of time with her two grandkids, who are 2 and 4 years old.
But working at the school is not something that always feels like a job for Tunstall; it’s rewarding for her and she enjoys it, she said.
Throughout the school year she gets to know the students from working with them in the cafeteria and seeing them throughout each day. Tunstall said many children will often raise concerns or issues to her before they tell an administrator or teacher.
“If I can be a role model, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing,” Tunstall said. “And if a child can see something positive in what I’m doing and I can make that difference, then it is rewarding.”
Read the full story in the Aug. 28 Herald-Progress. Call (804) 798-9031 or signup online to subscribe today.