A Clean Slate

Faces of Abington: Mr. James Doucette, custodian


Meagan McCadden

On December 2, 2019, custodian Mr. Doucette cleans the tables and floors in the middle school cafeteria.

It is not all the time in life when someone polishes up your mistakes with a swift stroke of a mop, but the janitorial staff at Abington Middle-High school makes sure this is a reality every single day.

In 2017, Abington Public Schools received a new school building. Three schools merged: the high school (9-12), middle school (5-8), and early education program (Pre-K) into a new $96 million dollar school. Features like a state-of-the-art auditorium, a beautiful new gymnasium, and spacious classrooms were part of the new school.

Keeping the school clean and beautiful is a top priority to the Abington Public School custodians. These employees try to make it so the students do not have to worry about returning each day to an anything less than an immaculate building.

It’s tough seeing someone who doesn’t care about the building as much as we do.”

— Mr. James Doucette

Mr. James Doucette has been on the custodial staff since 2016. Prior to his current position here, he was a Massachusetts State Trooper for 29 years. So, not only did he make a difference in Abington, but he also made a difference for the state as a whole.

He enjoys his work at the Abington Public Schools. “It is nice because you get to be around people and talk to them.” Being a Massachusetts State Trooper consisted of a lot of alone time in his cruiser scouting for potential incidents.

Here at the Middle-High School, he comes in every weekday to clean up the mess that the students make in the cafeteria area. The most important part of Mr. Doucette’s job is to ensure that the floors are clean.  He said that his favorite part of the job is “when everything is all done and looks good and you are satisfied with what you have done.” He takes pride in his job.

Growing up, Mr. Doucette had the tendency to keep things neat and still to this day he does as well. He said, “My friend’s father used to own a janitorial company that my friends and I would work at.” Little did he know that some odd years later, the knowledge and skill he had acquired through that small job would be useful and practical in his current one.

Mr. Doucette moved here from South Boston in 1998 where he would eventually raise six kids who all went to Abington Public Schools. They all have attended college. His wife, too plays a major role in the community. Susan Doucette is the head cafeteria worker for the middle school and high school students.

A typical workday for Mr. Doucette is a four-hour shift. Within the four hours, he cleans the cafeteria, kitchen, and the Green Wave Café. Eating lunch in such clean facilities every day makes people sometimes forget the people behind the scenes who made it possible. It takes a lot of hard work to do these tasks.

According to Mr. Doucette’s health app on his phone, he typically walks around 15,000 steps during a shift. That said, the job is not as easy as some may presume. But the physical work is not the toughest part of his job. Mr. Doucette said, “[It’s] seeing vandalism in such a beautiful school. It’s tough seeing someone who doesn’t care about the building as much as we do.”

A particular story that Mr. Doucette shared took place in 2016 in the old high school building. “I took care of the third floor.” On that floor was Mr. Doucette’s worst and most constant nightmare. “There was this one classroom on the third floor.  We used to call it the ‘Texas Road House’ because there was always a big mess at the end of the day.”

He continued to describe the cycle of madness, “Every day you would walk into the mess, clean it up, and then return to the same exact mess the next day.” One can only imagine how tedious this must have been.

The student body should ultimately take care of the facilities they are in. Why make Mr. Doucette and the rest of the janitorial staffs job harder? Think big picture.

Abington Public schools would be a mess, literally and figuratively, without people like Mr. Doucette and the rest of the janitorial staff.