John Dietrich

John Dietrich

CIRCLEVILLE — It may not be the most glamorous job inside a school, but it’s something that needs done and for John Dietrich, he takes pride in his work.

Dietrich is a custodian at Circleville City Schools who primarily oversees the field house, taking care of the athletes and community members who use the space by keeping things sanitized and as clean as he can. He also is in charge of the administration offices.

A typical day begins with disinfecting the turf and weight equipment, as well as door handles across the building. He makes sure to take out the trash daily and keep the floors clean.

“I come in and sanitize, wash the walls and door handles,” he said. “I’m out here most of the day, but then I go up and do all the office areas in the afternoon. I clean everything there is to clean and disinfect everything. I then go home at about 5:30 p.m. It’s a lot different than it used to be; before COVID, you didn’t kill yourself to try to disinfect everything like now. COVID started and we got some extra people and they’ve been a lot of help. I think we’re doing a great job of keeping things disinfected.”

Dietrich said it’s rewarding to see the students back in school, knowing in part he and his fellow custodians are a part of that equation.

“The kids can’t really learn at home and it’s heartbreaking to see only one parent be in the stands for their games and not their brothers and sisters or grandparents,” he said.

“It’s great to see that changing now.

I have friends that have kids who go here and I’d feel bad if one of them got COVID, so I try to do the best that I can do,” he added.

Beyond the typical cleaning, Dietrich also has painted much of the facility himself, even noting a few things on his to-do list as far as minor repairs that he plans to tackle in the near future.

“The floor before was just plain concrete and my boss came to me and asked me to paint it and I tossed some flakes on it,” he said. “You can step back, look at it and say that I did it. Everyone says it looks nice. I painted the wall out in the turf area red and black. They were Circleville’s colors and we didn’t have any here. Painting it doesn’t show the dirt as well.”

Dietrich was hired by Former Superintendent Kirk McMahon, who brought him on after he did some drywall work in McMahon’s home.

“I told him, when I was working on it, that work was kind of slow and he asked if I thought I’d be interested in being a substitute custodian, that they didn’t have any at the time,” Dietrich said.

“I filled out an application and next thing I know, I was working as a sub and the more I did it, the more I liked it. Drywall work isn’t an easy job, I was in my 50s and I thought I couldn’t do that forever and I could be a custodian until I was able to retire. I then got on full-time when they built the new school.”

Dietrich then worked in the evening for a few years until the field house opportunity came about.

“I got to come out here and work days; it’s been great,” he said. “If I would have thought about it 30 years ago when I graduated, I wish I’d have just become a custodian. Back then, when you’re a kid, you think, ‘who wants to do that?’ I don’t know how most people were, but when I was a kid, I looked down on them. I think I shouldn’t have been so judgmental. Had I become one back then, I could have retired by now.”

However, that’s not the case these days as Dietrich said he feels valued by the students who give him thanks and talk to him when they come in the building.

“Today, it’s a lot different,” he said. “The people here are great to work with. Jonathan Davis and Kyle Uhrig were great people to work with and the new people we have are great and seem to have the best interest of the kids in mind. I think things will change, but it’ll change for good.

The kids are really great,” he said. “You’d be surprised how respectful they are. They say ‘hi’ and treat you a lot better than when I was a kid. They ask how I’m doing.”

Evan Debo, communications director for the district, said the field house was something that was used heavily, but didn’t get enough attention in its early days.

“It wasn’t until the last two or three years; we didn’t start to put an emphasis on improving it and maintaining it,” he said. “With some of the paint and resurfacing of the floors, it’s leveraging it as a good asset for kids. We have a new advanced PE class out here.

The kids all know John and they know his name,” Debo said. “They know him as the guy who helps prepare class for them out here as they meander from the school. This has gone, under John’s leadership, from a space that is a great place to improving on things once the dust settled. In some ways, it settled too much and that’s where John comes in.”

One of the biggest messes that Dietrich said he’s had to clean up was the first time he gave the floors a good clean after they were only vacuumed during those initial years.

“When I came out here, it was a mess. I came out right before Thanksgiving,” he said.

“They wanted me to paint the boys’ locker room and it was looking bad. They told me they’d get me a sub for the work inside the high school. I painted it and it was bad. I had to wash the walls down first before I could paint it.

My boss then asked me to paint the floor and where they have the lines in the floor so they don’t crack; it was clear full of mud and grass and I had to get a putty knife to scrape between them to get it all up. If not, the roller would have just picked that stuff up. I asked my boss for a shop vac and that helps keep all that out of the cracks and stuff. Makes it a lot easier.”

When it comes to taking pride in his work, Dietrich said it’s about going above and beyond.

“I try to do a lot more than what is expected out of us,” he said. “If I see something that needs to be done, I go ahead and do it because I know it needs to be taken care of. I think our other custodians are the same way.”

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