Unsung Heroes of the Night

Maintenance and Grounds Supervisor Gustavo Arias. Photo courtesy of Menlo School
Maintenance and Grounds Supervisor Gustavo Arias. Photo courtesy of Menlo School

Grounds Supervisor Gustavo Arias & Services Planner Nikki Myers

While most Americans were celebrating New Year’s Eve or rolling off to bed as the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2024, Maintenance and Grounds Supervisor Gustavo Arias was called in the middle of the night to fix a water heater that broke down in one of the Menlo-owned apartments. And when the school lost power during the January 2023 storms, Arias was the one who came to the school in the middle of the night to set up the backup generator. 

Arias doesn’t abide by the typical 9 to 5 workday; instead, he must be ready to respond to calls at any time. “If you had an emergency at your home and you needed to call Roto-Rooter in the middle of the night, that’s kind of like Gustavo,” Operations Services Planner Nikki Myers said. “He would be the one that you would contact.”

Arias, who began working for Menlo in 2009, receives requests from Myers and delegates them to the appropriate facilities worker so that events are set and maintenance problems are taken care of daily. “We are trying to keep the campus clean and directing the guys to do all the setup,” Arias said in an interview in early April. “These last three weeks, I worked seven days a week because of the events. When we have big events, we need to have people for anything.” 

For the 2024 auction, Arias organized a team to rent equipment, put down carpet in the gym and add the decor a week in advance. The team spent days cleaning up the auction after it ended. 

Myers, who receives work orders from staff and parents and hands them off to Arias, also must adapt to different orders — from removing a dead animal on campus to reserving the CADC for a chess tournament — as they come in. “Everyone always thinks that their thing is the emergency,” she said. “So [I] just really try to make sure that [I] delegate appropriately or prioritize appropriately what needs to get done immediately and what can usually wait.”

Myers began working for Menlo seven months ago and was a hairstylist and gym manager prior. “My career path has been a little crazy,” she said. Myers appreciates the respectful community at Menlo compared to her job at the gym. “Everyone has been very respectful and very thankful,” she said. However, Myers notes that it’s easy for the contributions of the facilities team to go unnoticed. “Magically you come here tomorrow and the cafeteria is clean and it doesn’t look like the absolute mess that it was left in,” she said. “There’s probably a lot of things [students] don’t know that we do.” 


Director of Child Care Center Lisa Williams 

Tucked in the corner of the loop behind the middle school campus lies the Child Care Center, which consists of three classrooms, a small kitchen, 23 children and seven teachers. “As a team, we all work together just to create the best, most joyful environment that we can for the children,” Director of the Child Care Center Lisa Williams said. 

Because it can be difficult for Menlo staff members to find infant care, the child care center allows staff to drop off their children at work and visit their children during the day if they desire. The center cares for infants all the way up to five years of age. 

Williams is tasked with opening and closing the center, hiring teachers, communicating with parents and working with Joan Barada. Barada is the school nurse and administrator of the center. 

Williams arrives at school at 6:45; the center opens at 7:30 a.m. and children trickle in depending on their parent’s work schedule. The day consists of a series of snacks, naps and activities ranging from storytelling to yoga before pick up at 4:30 p.m. 

While Williams loves working with children, she notes that her role requires her to be responsive. “Their needs always have to be supervised,” she said. “When the children pick up childhood illnesses, it is sad to see them feeling unwell.”

Williams forms close relationships with the children she takes care of. “Watching them grow from babies up to five and forming relationships with the families, that’s the real bonus to the job,” she said. “When they graduate when they’re 5, you’ve been with them for five years, so you miss them.” 

Originally from Ireland, Williams has worked for Menlo for 21 years. She has a degree in child development and nursery nursing as well as experience working as a nanny in Europe. “[The Child Care Center] is just a happy spot on campus […] in the corner of a very special community,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Amelie Giomi
Amelie Giomi, Spread Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: interviewing different types of people and bringing unique stories to light

Interests outside of school: soccer, baking, spending time with my two dogs and friends
Class of 2025

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