Caring custodian makes Cleveland shine

Head custodian Bruce Shields responds to an email during the last hour of his day on Nov. 30. Shields spends much of his day overseeing repairs around the school, making sure everything is in working order.

Brandon Trujillo, Staff Reporter

To say Bruce Shields is a hardworking person is an understatement. The school’s head custodian is on campus before 7 a.m., and by the time students arrived, he’s already checked several items off his to-do list. It’s that type of dedication that keeps the school running.

“My typical day is coming in and opening up the school, making sure that substitute teachers have their keys,” said Shields. 

While Shields spends the bulk of his day making sure the school is in working order, his priority is on keeping Cleveland clean.

“[The custodial staff] has a lot of pride in ourselves, and we want this school to reflect the type of work ethic that we have,” he said. “We want this to be one of the cleanest schools in the whole Seattle Public Schools … and we want our kids over here in a clean and safe environment. So that motivates us to do a good job.”

In his two years at CHS, Shields has grown fond of the school. He likes the “togetherness” he sees among the students and staff. 

“I just like the friendliness of this school,” he said.

Shields’ dedication doesn’t go unnoticed. Students and staff members like to sing his praises. Junior Isaiah-James Draculan said the school would be falling apart if it wasn’t for the man he affectionately calls, “Mr. Bruce.”

“There’s a lot of things to appreciate about him,” Draculan said. “He takes his time to talk to students, he even takes his time to clean up the small messes … and it may be small but it’s a big place to clean up so I really do appreciate what Bruce does.”

Draculan said Shields’ warm approach is what makes him relatable to students.

“[Bruce] enjoys his job doing it, and the fact that he’s enjoying … his job makes me want to help him,” Draculan said. 

Outside of Cleveland, Shields is a minister at Greater Glory Ministries Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, a position he has held for five years. 

“I didn’t particularly want to be a minister,” he said. “I think I ran from it. I didn’t really feel like I was qualified to be a minister.”

Shields said he fought the idea, but God led him to do the work. 

“[God] … will be persistent if he wants you to do something, and I didn’t have any peace so I accepted … my calling.”

Shields is a father to a daughter and two sons. His youngest son, 16-year-old Brennan, attends school at Franklin. He enjoys taking trips away from the city with his wife and grandson, Tyree.