When Tyler Allred wrapped up his work at Union Middle on the evening of October 23, the floors were polished, the windows were washed and the hallways looked clean and tidy — just like usual. As the facility manager of a 50-year-old school, Allred always made sure his building was as well-maintained as it could possibly be; so much so, that visitors were known to say that they couldn’t tell the building’s age because it was so impressively spotless.
But on October 24, as thick clouds of black smoke started billowing from a social studies instruction room, all of that changed. An electrical fire, believed to have started with a Chromebook charging station, was reported around 5 a.m. When Allred got the word, his blood went cold at the thought of what had happened.
While not every Education Support Professional (ESP) receives an early morning call of that nature, the more than 2,000 throughout Canyons District who drive buses, serve food and manage the phones — and every other aspect of education outside of the classroom — know exactly what it’s like to face a challenge. Whether they’re waking before dawn to prepare hearty meals or remove snow from parking lots, their role is to support Canyons’ students in becoming college-and career-ready. Canyons District celebrates ESP day on Wednesday, Nov. 20, we recognize that sometimes, the job of an ESP can mean the difference between students going to school that day, or staying home.
“I was nervous because when I got the call, I didn’t know the state of the building at that moment,” Allred says. “I went from a functioning school where everything was fine one night, and then the school is burned. It was very overwhelming thinking, ‘Well, we had just cleaned the floors last night and cleaned the building,” and then the worry of, ‘OK, how can we get this taken care of so we can have kids back in the building again.’”
Four classrooms were impacted by the fire and smoke, because of their close proximity to each other. The fire caused electrical and smoke damage, necessitating the closure of a section of the school so crews can clean and restore the area. Contractors have relied on Allred’s knowledge of the building and its infrastructure to move forward, and the head custodian has made himself available around the clock, whether it’s to answer a phone call in the middle of the night asking what breaker goes to what, or to reset an alarm. Allred always responds, rushing to help when needed.
“Tyler has been working almost double shifts daily because he is the one with knowledge of the inner workings of the building — the vents, the electrical — they are relying so heavily on him to proceed in the cleanup effort and the construction, and anything anyone needs, he is right on it,” Union Principal Kelly Tauteoli says. “He is just great that way.”
When Allred started as the head custodian at Union in 2013, he was motivated to play his part in helping students in Canyons District learn and grow. He makes sure the building is a pleasant environment for teachers to work.
“I love the fact that if I do my job well, 800 kids have the chance to come to school in a clean environment and teachers are able to come have a job in a clean building and sanitary environment to teach the kids,” Allred says. “I’ve just taken this challenge one day, one hour at a time, and just roll with the punches. You just have to move on and let’s rebuild it.”