Streams Head Custodian Goes Above and Beyond
Parents and students adore Gregg West, who has worked for the school district for 25 years.
When the students arrive at Streams Elementary, there is a team of teachers and staff eager to help. However, there is one man among the group that particularly stands out to the kids and parents—head custodian Gregg West.
"My son is excited to see him every single day," a parent said.
Mr. Gregg, as he is known at Streams, goes above and beyond what an average custodian would do at school. When the buses roll in each morning, he's there to greet the students by name. At lunch, he gives high-fives and makes sure each child has a smile on their face.
"I love doing what I'm doing. The kids are just great," Mr. Gregg said. "It's the best job I've ever had."
Mr. Gregg said he thought his life was over when he lost his job during Pittsburgh's steel collapse. He had a mortgage, two young boys and no income.
Soon after, he got his first custodian job with Upper St. Clair School District. He started at Baker Elementary and then jumped on the opportunity to work the midnight shift at the high school so he could spend more time with his sons. For the last 15 years, he's worked at Streams.
"This is just a great place to be. It has helped me become a better dad; I'm more patient," Mr. Gregg said.
And Mr. Gregg feels responsible to help teach the students good character traits.
"My grandfather was a Methodist minister and we went to church and we had to pay attention...we learned about being a good person and honoring everyone. I had three sisters and brothers and we learned to share because we had to," Mr. Gregg said. "Let's face it, parents are busy these days. So I try to teach the kids respect."
"Gregg has a great way with the students," said Dr. Claire Miller, principal of Streams. "He's nurturing and upbeat, yet he holds the students up to to their choices."
Mr. Gregg begins his day at the school at 6 a.m. and performs day-to-day maintenance on the building to keep it clean and safe. In the winter, he's the one to shovel the sidewalks.
He's very visible at lunchtime as he helps the kids throw away their trash and put back their trays. And he must make sure the cafeteria is in good condition for any evening activities that may take place at the school.
On top of his custodial duties, Mr. Gregg dresses up for Halloween each year (he's been a clown, a pirate and this year, a baby) and emcees the talent show.
"Now that's a lot of fun," Mr. Gregg said.
"When I was in school, custodians weren't thought of the same way as we are today," Mr. Gregg said. "It's hard to explain to others how I can like my job so much.
"Streams is so special, I think it's because I have that connection to my father-in-law."
Mr. Gregg is part of Streams legacy. His wife's father was a very popular custodian at Streams Elementary from 1966 to 1984.
"When I got the job in 1996 I had mixed emotions; I had big shoes to fill," Mr. Gregg said.
And whoever comes after Mr. Gregg will have the same high expectations. At age 58, he hopes to retire in a few years. He said he would like to work at a golf course and hopefully babysit for some future grandchildren.
Mr. Gregg's son, Todd, also works for Upper St. Clair School District. He works in the techology department. Mr. Gregg's other son, Sean, is a manager of Greentree Sportsplex and his wife, Sharon, is a registered nurse at Washington Hospital.