Today, as much as ever, custodians absorb like a sponge the information students leave behind in the hallways. Sometimes, Orozco and other custodial professionals use what they hear to keep faculty in the know. Other times, they’re just there for the kids, and willing to offer advice or just listen.
“We have a different role now,” explains Orozco. “It seems like a lot of our job is public relations. We’re the eyes and ears of the schools.”
Since he’s been in the schools for decades, many of the kids Orozco looked out for in their youth are now full-grown adults. This sometimes leads to past students walking up to Orozco to re-introduce themselves, maybe even thank him for a job well done. Orozco says these encounters feel “pretty good.” His wife, Nan, playfully taunts him for how much he enjoys the praise, sometimes telling friends that Orozco ”thinks he’s Brad Pitt’ due to all the attention.
From what Brewer has witnessed, students care so much about Orozco because he’s real with them.
“Marcos is a trusted adult because he is respected,” says Brewer. “I was fortunate enough to be by his side one day when an active shooter announcement came over the loudspeaker. Going with Marcos down the hall to make sure students were directed to a safe place before getting to safety ourselves, I got to see the type of relationship he has with the people in his building and it is inspiring to watch.”
For all the lessons Orozco has taught kids over the years, the students have taught him one that’s also important. Orozco and his wife have taken on six foster children in the last 10 years, adopting four of those kids. He says his decades spent interacting with students helped prepare him for foster care and adoption. He must be ready, as he was named ”Foster Dad of The Year’ in 2017 by Utah Foster Care.
The foster care that Orozco provides in his personal life has begun to positively impact his professional one, as well. Some of the kids at East High School are from foster families, so Orozco says he understands their story, and the kids know that his experiences allow him to relate to them in a way few adults can.
Many people who read this article might not ever have the privilege of speaking with Orozco. For those people, there’s one last piece of Orozco’s advice that’s worth sharing: “When you do a job, do it to the best of your ability.”
More Than Just Cleaning Staff
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