Preparing Campus for a New School Year

Taking care of twenty-one buildings on campus is a significant undertaking, but Director of Environmental Services Mike Jowder and his dedicated team make this work look effortless.

“Environmental Services is responsible for taking care of all the buildings on campus,” explained Mike. “This includes the routine cleaning of classrooms, dormitories, offices, Children’s Center, and shared spaces. Once or twice a year, depending on the need, we refinish the wood floors in the Dining Room, stairwells, Marshall Center, Meetinghouse, dormitories, Bancroft, Retford, other classrooms, apartments, and any other areas where needed. Summer is a busy time for us as we deep clean all the dormitories along with the apartments and houses vacated by faculty and staff. We also rearrange furniture in all the dormitories, and check and replace any damaged items to ensure everything is pristine when students arrive back on campus.”

Mike joined George School in March 2020, so his introduction to the school was a unique one. “I started as COVID-19 forced the school to close campus, therefore, I got to know everyone through email and online meetings,” said Mike. “My priority was to secure hard-to-find cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, as well as enhance our cleaning protocols. Initially, I spent much of my time conducting research to make sure George School had the necessary supplies and had many sleepless nights worrying about how to do this. I remember not being able to find certain items and could only solve this problem after asking my dentist for his source. It was important that everyone had the supplies they wanted, and I was very happy that faculty and staff reached out to me directly to let me know what they needed and how we could assist. The community was very responsible and ensured their work areas were wiped down every day which was extremely helpful.”

“In addition to cleaning, we are responsible for events set up, with Opening Days, Family Weekend, Admission Open House, Alumni Weekend, and Commencement being key undertakings,” continued Mike. “Environmental Services also provides laundry service to students, food service, the health center, and the guest apartment during the school year and assists the summer camps and programs during the summer months.”

“I have worked in the industry for twelve years and this is the best job I have had,” said Mike. “We work collaboratively with Physical Plant and everyone is wonderful and willing to help each other. Many years ago, I worked as a teacher and basketball coach and I came to George School because I wanted to return to a school setting. It is a joy to come to work each day.”

“My team is wonderful, and I am very fortunate to have Tina Argueta as the Assistant Manager who has worked here since 1993. She is amazing and I could not do this without her. Everyone is committed to George School as evidenced by how long they have worked here. Denise Plaisime is the longest serving member of Environmental Services with thirty-one years of service.”

With the start of the new school year, I am really looking forward to meeting people in person and being able to see their entire face and not just the part above their mask! When you see me and my team, please stop and say hello.