“I’ve never had a job like this that I really love,” said Angel Ocasio, School Cleaner of the Year. “I really love coming here.”
Prior to cleaning for the Department of Education, Ocasio worked in school security, but “I was just staring at a monitor, and just sitting there for eight hours, sometimes 12,” he said. “I couldn’t be active, and I like to be active.”
Ocasio has been cleaning at Bronxwood Preparatory Academy since 2015; a job that keeps him on his feet. He gets to the school every day after students leave at 3:30 p.m., and has the routine down to a science: cleaning up garbage, sweeping, mopping, and disinfecting the entire third floor over the course of his six-hour shift.
And though some pandemic guidelines have eased over the past year or so, Ocasio and his teammates still clean the school with the standards they had in 2020, strapping on a 25-pound backpack of disinfectant to spray down classrooms, and sanitizing each door handle with care.
He takes pride in his precision. “You’re doing the job for the kids so they don’t get sick, you know?” That’s what I care about,” said Ocasio. “I treat these kids like I’m going to treat my kids. I don’t want my kids getting sick. When they go into a classroom, it should be disinfected. That’s how I treat this job; I take it seriously.”
When he’s not cleaning Bronxwood Academy to keep kids safe, Ocasio dedicates much of his time to his loved ones. He spends his mornings zipping around the Bronx, running errands and doing chores for his father and brother, who both struggle with their health. He does their laundry and grocery shopping, and checks in on them throughout the week.
“I take care of my family, that’s what I do. I’m not here to have fun,” said Ocasio. “I’m 55 years old. I had all my fun when I was young, you know? Now my family needs me, so that’s what I’m doing: taking care of my family.”
He does find some time to unwind, however. On the weekends, Ocasio likes to catch up with his teenage sons, taking them to New Roc City to catch a movie, or go out to dinner.
And throughout the week, his coworkers keep him laughing. He said the best part of his job is their comradery. “The people, the coworkers, they lift it. They’re always happy,” he said. “We’re like a family here.”