Jun. 13—When Susana Magallanes was presented with the Ector County ISD Custodian of the Year Award, she was surprised.
Odessa American sportswriter Chris Amaya translated for Magallanes, whose work keeps Dowling Elementary School sparkling.
"She wasn't aware of it, but whenever she got it ... it was a beautiful surprise. She was surprised by it and she was really happy to get that award," Amaya said on behalf of Magallanes.
Magallanes started working for ECISD eight years ago and has been at Dowling for four years.
Working with children is what drew her to becoming a custodian. She cleans at home, "But she does it better here because she's getting paid to do it."
In the past year and a half, custodians have been busier and have had to clean and sanitize more often. Magallanes has had to sanitize doorknobs and any handles that people were touching.
"At the end of the day, they would come over and spray every room, desks and chairs. ... So it was hard kind of going throughout the day having to clean everything constantly that the kids were touching," she said through Amaya.
Magallanes said she doesn't feel like she has to work harder as a result of the award.
"She knows that she's been doing her job well and she wants to continue doing her job ... the way that she's been doing this since she started," she said through Amaya.
The children are the main reason she likes her job.
"She says she likes whenever they come in for lunch, whenever they're leaving and being able to say hello to them and being able to make conversation with them, getting to know them," Magallanes said.
Magallanes is married to Martin Diaz and has four children and one grandchild on her husband's side. The ages of her children are 32, 29, 22 and 18. Her youngest son is at Burges High School in El Paso.
"She said that her job here at ECISD has kind of helped her bringing them along and moving forward and being able to graduate from high school ...," Magallanes said through Amaya.
Originally from Chihuahua, Magallanes moved to the U.S. because of her first husband. They got married and lived in El Paso for about 30 years.
"Then after that was done, she moved over here about eight years ago," she said.
She added that she is very thankful for the award and the way they presented it to her because the group included a bunch of central office staff and the superintendent.
"She was very excited whenever she got it and she is thankful that they recognized her work. They saw that she was doing good work and she wants to continue doing that," she said.
Principal Julie Marshall is in awe of Magallanes' talent.
"Susanna keeps everything so clean and organized and we can count on her every day to show up and do what she's supposed to do and she smiles and greets the kids," Marshall said. "Everyone here is just so appreciative of everything she does for us."
Along with everyone else, the past year and a half has been tough on custodians.
"The custodial crew during COVID was on even more duties than normal because they sanitized throughout the day — every doorknob, every light switch, every table. They sprayed the classrooms every day that they cleaned, so their duties increased. And so we're so appreciative of her ...," Marshall added.
ECISD Employee of the Year Awards
— Counselor of the Year: Daniel Dorethy, Bowie Middle School.
— Para-Professional of the Year: Sandra Pilger, Bowie Middle School.
— Custodian of the Year: Susana Magallanes, Dowling Elementary
— Police Department Employee of the Year: Leonard Hendon.
— Professional of the Year: Brandon Reyes, Director of School Nutrition.
— Transportation Employee of the Year: Laura Hinojosa.
— Maintenance Employee of the Year: Henry "Rome" Kleck.
— School Nutrition Employee of the Year: Vuthy Thong.
Earlier in May, Employee of the Year Awards went to:
— Elementary Principal of the Year: Sherry Palmer, Carver Early Childhood Center.
— Secondary Principal of the Year: Anthony Garcia, Wilson and Young Middle School.
— Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year: Zealia Jenkins, Edward K. Downing Elementary.
— Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year: Megan Watts, Permian High School.
— Elementary Teacher of the Year: Sarah Hawkins, Travis Elementary.
— Secondary Teacher of the Year: Cheryl Cunningham, Advanced Technical Center.
— Nurse of the Year: Alan Pitt, Ector Middle School.