While the spotlight in schools is often on students, it takes many incredibly hard-working people to ensure a proper, safe school environment.
Head custodian of Phillips Elementary School Ed Emerick is one of those people.
Emerick, 58, has been working at Marietta City Schools for more than 27 years. For the first two years he was a substitute custodian, a job he got after learning boiler management from night classes at the Washington County Career Center. As a substitute, he and a large pool of other workers could be called in at any time to work at any of the local area schools.
These days, one can find Emerick in the boiler room of Phillips School, which also functions as an office-if he has a moment of downtime, that is. His 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule involves everything from toilet and playground maintenance to cleaning the three-story school building.
Emerick said he enjoys interacting with the students, who call him Ed or Mr. Emerick, even despite the difficult work of being the only on-duty custodian during the school day.
"You gotta like kids in this line of work," he said. "You'll be cleaning up after sick kids one minute and then fixing something they broke the next minute."
- Age: 58.
- Job: Head custodian of Phillips Elementary School.
- Residence: Marietta.
- Family: Wife, Rhonda Emerick, three sons and one daughter.
A single night-shift custodian, Carl Hartley, picks up Emerick's duties after 3 p.m.
"It has some hectic times but you just start things and before you know it they get done," Emerick said.
Sometimes, the days are filled with the unexpected.
Emerick said one of his strangest days as a custodian came when a student got caught in the lunch bench pocket that holds the benches in wall.
"I couldn't get him out," he said. "(I) had to call the fire department to get him out because he'd got his shoulder wedged in there."
At the same time, Emerick said he still enjoys his job, even after 27 years of custodial service. He has no plans to retire yet.
"I plan to work as long as I'm healthy. Some (custodians) retire and come back. I figure I might as well keep working instead of retiring and coming back to sub," Emerick said.
He said he plans to stay in Marietta.
"I grew up in Marietta. It's just a quiet, peaceful town. It's not like big cities... not hectic. I always liked it right here," Emerick said.
He lives in town with his wife, Rhonda. The two have four adult children.
Phillips Elementary Principal Joe Finley, who has known Emerick for several years, said the head custodian has become an irreplaceable part of the school.
"The major thing about Ed is he takes pride in his work, and shares pride in his school.... it's like his second home. He does whatever it takes get something done and he always has the kids as his primary responsibility," Finley said.
Emerick said he encourages the students to try to get as good of an education as they can.
"Just pick a field that you're interested in and put yourself through the schooling for it," he said. "When I was growing up, a high school diploma was enough. It's not enough anymore. It's become a stepping stone."