Doing little bits of good every day

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Doing little bits of good every day

Custodian Johnny Lockett poses for a portrait at a table near Manzanita.

Custodian Johnny Lockett poses for a portrait at a table near Manzanita.

Irina Malyugina

Custodian Johnny Lockett poses for a portrait at a table near Manzanita.

Irina Malyugina

Irina Malyugina

Custodian Johnny Lockett poses for a portrait at a table near Manzanita.

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Whether he’s vacuuming the carpet of Main, mopping the floor of Manzanita or getting a ladder for a staff member who needs one, custodian Johnny Lockett is a familiar face to all who wander through Main’s hallways sometime after 2:30 pm.

Lockett was born in Louisiana and joined the military after he graduated from high school in 1979.

“When I was growing up, fifteen, maybe seventeen, I lived in an environment of fear. So I changed for the better as I graduated and went into the military. I said, ‘I’m not going back to fear. I’m going to move on with my life,’” Lockett said.

Lockett’s experience in the military had a long lasting effect on him, and the instincts it ingrained in him are still present today. When lightning struck a tree in the parking lot last year, Lockett immediately took cover and ushered other people to cover too.

“When I went into the military after I graduated out of high school in 1979, that changed my whole life around,” he said. “It lets me do what I do and be what I want to be, which is a man, what I am today.”

He began working at Harker roughly seven years ago, having been introduced to the job by his younger brother, one of the kitchen staff.

“I never had the experience being a custodian when I came to Harker,” Lockett said. “They trained me, and I love the job. This is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my life. It’s really worth it. I love getting up in the morning, working, being around faculty, staff and the kids. I love the environment.”

He shows his love for his job and the Harker community through his daily interactions with other faculty members. Every day when Lockett clocks in for work, he greets the teachers in Main and talks a bit with them.

“One of the things I look forward to in the day is when Johnny enters this building to get his afternoon work done.” Abel Olivas, Spanish teacher and department head of Modern and Classical languages, said. ”Usually he peeks in to my classroom, and we just have some fun chit-chat.”

At the end of the year faculty party, Lockett always takes pictures with his various friends and acquaintances throughout Main. Diana Moss, Spanish teacher, is one of these.
“The best thing about having him in our hallway is he always is friendly and positive and greets you with a big warm smile. He’s a really positive presence in our hallway.” Moss said. “He’ll do anything extra or above in terms of cleaning or procuring things that we need for the classroom.”

Irina Malyugina
Lockett reaches for another spray bottle in his cart in Main after school on Feb. 8. Lockett has worked as a custodian at the upper school for seven years.

Lockett tries his best to support everyone, be they students or faculty, in as many ways as he can.

“When the GSA asked the community to wear red as part of National Coming Out Day, he came completely in red to support the LGBT community. And if we have fundraisers, either GSA or Spanish NHS, he always buys something from us, because he’s very good about wanting to support the kids and their efforts here.”

Sometimes, Lockett spends his Saturday working at the Japanese school in Blackford. When working with the kids there, Lockett hopes to be seen as a role model.

“They see me walking down the hallways here doing the trash and someone says, ‘Hey, that guy really inspired me. I’m gonna try to be like him.’ Kids look up to you when you do good work. They thank you, and that makes you want to do more. You want to please the teachers and the students if you work at the Harker school. That’s my main goal.“

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on February 20, 2019.