Custodian promotes positivity amongst student body


Emmaleigh Kowal

Custodian Steve Johnson wipes down a table in the cafeteria after the first lunch shift. Johnson is beloved among the student body for his positive attitude.

For janitor Steve Johnson, custodial work is about more than just wiping off tables and sweeping the halls, it’s about having a positive impact on the students and staff; improving more than just the appearance of the school.
“The first year that I was here, I didn’t really interact a lot with the kids so I thought I would change that because I wanted the kids to care about their school and, in order for them to care about the school, they had to know that I cared about them so that was my motivation,” Johnson said.
Johnson began working as a custodian twenty years ago while he was living in Colorado.
“Back in Colorado, I took on a [custodial] job. Just answered an ad for a town about 15 miles from where I grew up,” Johnson said. “I did that for six years before we decided that we were going to move to Missouri.”
A few years after moving to Missouri, Johnson took up another custodial job and began working at Warsaw High School in 2017.
“I did [custodial work] before. I enjoyed it; I enjoyed working with the kids. It was a job with good benefits, and it just kind of helps out having insurance and retirement,” Johnson said.
However, while he works at WHS during the week, Johnson has an after-school job at Pizza Hut in Warsaw, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“[Students] recognize me [at Pizza Hut], they talk to me; It’s neat,” Johnson said.
Johnson tries to interact with the students of WHS in more ways than cleaning up after them at school and serving them pizza.
“I talk to [the students] everyday, tell them good morning, show up at events, just try to interact with them in the hallway. I don’t tell them that ‘you’re doing this wrong,’ ‘you’re doing that wrong’ or ‘you made a mess,’ just trying to do positive reinforcement,” Johnson said.
“He always says good morning to us and I’ve never met a janitor that interacts with the kids and that is as nice and chatty as he is,” junior Morgan Branson said. “I speak for a lot of the kids at school when I say he’s pretty awesome.”
He has also formed a strong bond with the other members of the WHS faculty and staff that he has worked with for the past four years.
“I try to have a really good relationship with the staff,” Johnson said. “If they need something from me then they just need to ask for it. We all try to work together as a team.”
It is this interaction with the students and his positive attitude that has created the students’ admiration for the humble janitor. While National Custodial Workers’ Day is Oct. 2, students have shown their appreciation for Steve in standing ovations and chanting his name at assemblies.
“Steve is the G.O.A.T [greatest of all time]!” junior Haley Dwyer said.
“I don’t thrive on the attention part; it’s nice that you all do that but it’s not really important to me to be noticed,” Johnson said. “I like to be able to do my job and help people.”
Like life, every day of custodial work is different and unpredictable in many ways, but facing it with a positive mindset leads to positive results.
“The thing is, every day is different. Every day has enough trouble of its own. You have the positive stuff and the negative stuff, but each day live the best day that you can,” Johnson said. “Have a good attitude towards whatever you do, that’s just what I was always taught; just have a good attitude and try your best.”