They wake up at the crack of dawn Monday through Friday, for 180 days out of every year. The outside world may be silence but it is a hustle of activity within the four wall confinements of the school. Two people take charge of preparing classrooms for learning and food for consumption for over 3000 people each morning before the rest of the staff come in for work.
Stepping up from the hidden depths of Timber Creek are custodian James Holland and head of Nutritional Services Employee, Elsie Bravo.
“I just enjoy working with the kids and being here,” said Holland.
Entering the cafeteria, students will see a variety of different food options to choose for lunch, not putting much thought into how much time, effort, and planning went into making it all. Lunch menus are determined by a dietician employed by Keller ISD for all the district’s high schools, middle schools, and intermediate schools.
Bravo has been an employee of Keller ISD for 23 years working first at Keller High School, then Fossil Ridge in the kitchen before coming here.
“I’ve been here with Timber Creek since its opened,” Bravo said.
As manager, she oversees all of the cafeteria staff. Workers make food fresh each and every day and log what is left over to account for what needs to be ordered and adjust how much of that particular dish they should make next time. As they are required to throw out any leftovers, this system is the best way to prevent the wasting of food. Though she found another way to use leftover food.
“We used to have a Vice Principal…at Fossil Ridge and he always made fun of chicken rings. So one day when we had a few of the chicken rings left over…the older cars used to have an antennae thing that came out the hood and so we would put the chicken rings all [on the antennae],” Bravo said, laughing at a fond memory.
Meanwhile Holland has a completely different area of expertise. Prepping and cleaning the school before students arrive, he ensures that they have the best learning environment to focus and be in. As the first custodian to come in every morning, he gets to see the sun rise in the darkness of the school and also partake in the special silence of early morning.
“I usually come in at six and turn on the lights,” Holland explained. “I like coming in the morning because it’s quiet, no one’s here.”
Alongside Bravo, Holland has also worked here since the school opened. Though enjoying seeing all the students and basking in the supportive atmosphere Timber Creek emits, he comments on how different it is a world from when he was in high school explaining how “everyone has a cell phone now”. He also notices the drama within the student population.
“It’s not as bad yet; wait until they get into the working world,” he joked.
After all his time working at Timber Creek and his own personal experiences, Holland has learned that the best way for students to get through the school years is to just keep moving forward.
“I know it’s tough,” he said. “Just do your thing, and go to school and get it over with.”
In such a large school, it is expected to not know and recognize every face or name that goes there. Now, there are certain names and faces, such as Principal Donald Bartlett, that everyone knows, however, other parts of the school may go unnoticed. Holland and Bravo are just one of the many unknown heroes who make up the foundation and backbone of this school.
“To me this is the best part of the year, enjoy it,” Holland commented.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story had Holland’s name incorrect. We apologize for the error.