Monday June 28, 2010

JAMAICA -- After 37 years of service at the Jamaica Village School, Doris "Jean" Brooks was recently named Vermont school custodian of the year by the department of education and the Vermont School Custodians and Maintenance Association.

Brooks was nominated by the school’s principal, Laura Hazard.

"I thought it was important to recognize her for the quality of work she has done and for what she provided for our school and the community," Hazard said.

Brooks was presented with the award at the 53rd Annual School Custodians and Maintenance Conference, held at Hartford High School on June 24.

Hazard said Brooks deserves the honor because of her willingness to go above and beyond the requirements of her job.

When the school’s roof collapsed, Brooks moved the entire collection of books from the library to keep them from getting damaged.

"That was before my time," Hazard said, adding that teacher Ben Hamilton told her the story.

"I couldn’t capture the whole 37 years she has been here, so I asked the teachers for specific examples," she explained.

Brooks not only keeps the school clean for the students but safe as well.

"With the H1N1 virus concerns, we had to take extra precautions, and she did what was necessary to minimize the spread," said Hazard.

"When there was a water line leak that flooded our hall and classrooms periodically for months, she mopped and mopped and did what was needed to keep the spaces as dry and safe as possible," she added.

Wednesday is Brooks’ last official day of work at the school; Hazard said the school has a replacement lined up, but Brooks’ shoes will be hard to fill.

"She’s a part of the school community, and she cares for the school as if it was an extension of her home," Hazard said.

"She will be missed," she added. "Fortunately she lives just 5 minutes away, so I’ll still be able to tap into her expertise as things arise."

Brooks said Jamaica Village School has been "a wonderful place to work."

"I went to school at Jamaica school," she said. "People I went to school with- their children went there, and then their children. It’s like an extended part of my family."

Brooks is planning to enjoy her retirement with her husband.

"It’s that time in my life," she said. "There’s a time for everything, but I’m truly going to miss Jamaica school."

Jaime Cone can be reached at jcone@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.