When it came to Zertuche, McCallum really cleaned up

Yolanda and Santa

Zertuche may not be tall, but replacing her will be a tall order for Santa Featherstone and the rest of the administration. Photo by Dave Winter.

Take good care of the custodians, I remember being told when I was at UT studying to be a teacher. It never occurred to me how well a custodian could take care of me.

Then, I came to McCallum.

On my first day as a teacher here back in August, I met Yolanda Zertuche, who for the last 16 years, has been cleaning this campus and caring for the students and teachers on it.

Almost immediately, she made me feel welcome, and important and … for lack of a better phrase … looked after.

Whether I had a good day or a bad day, a tidy classroom or (more often) a messy one, Yolanda would help me feel better about the next day. She urged me not to stay too late, to always attend first to my family and … almost every day … to be safe driving home.

She reminds me of my mom’s sisters back in Detroit where I grew up.  When my mom was sick, which was often when I was very young, they took care of me, and there is no more secure feeling than knowing that somebody beyond your parents cares for you and has your back.

Yolanda made me feel this way every day.  I have enjoyed our many conversations throughout the semester, learning about her family and telling her about mine.  More importantly, I am reminded just how much difference one person can make simply by being truly present and attentive to the people in her environment.

Today, as Yolanda Zertuche celebrates her last day at McCallum and her retirement, the McCallum family salutes her outstanding career and the many ways that she made this place not only cleaner but warmer and more like home.

— Dave Winter

What has Yolanda Zertuche meant to the school?

Yolanda has a heart of gold, and she works so hard.  She has been here the entire time I have, and I have seen her helping students to be better people and helping teachers in every way she can.

Yolanda will be missed.

— Diana Adamson

I believe that she has been instrumental all these years to McCallum High School by keeping our hallways and classrooms swept, picking up after kids after lunch and making sure to clear hallways after school.  She has always been helpful if a teacher needed a desk moved out or a ladder brought in; always making sure to follow through.

— Lolly Randal

Yolanda has always been a loyal and steadfast person in our McCallum family.  She’s always friendly, does her job well, and always caring to every person I saw her interacting with.

— Mr. Whiz

Yolanda was a great person to talk to and gripe just a bit. She fought hard for these last few weeks to take care of herself. She is a great listener.

— Tim Bjerke

Yolanda is a constant friendly face and warm smile around McCallum! Although she was never my hall’s custodian, she took the time to get to know me and always asks about my family and how my son is doing. I will miss seeing her in the halls.

— Sarah Noack

Yolanda is always interested in others.  She genuinely cares about the students and staff.

— Mindy Croom

You just sit back, put your feet up and relax!  With your new knee, you can dance, if you want.    I do know how committed you are to your work!  Some days, you could barely walk or even stand and still managed to pick up all the trash and clean the office.  You brought all those yummy tamales and hand delivered them to us.  That was monumental and must have exhausted you.  You know the true meaning and values of life because you do have such a deep appreciation for others.  Yolanda, thank you for always being so friendly and outgoing to me.  Of course, I do realize that you “loved me the best!”

Have a wonderful retirement. You deserve it, after all these years!

— Barbara Josephson

How has she helped you the most?

Yolanda always made my day with her “Hello, Amy, how are you?”  The fact she knew my name was awesome and her kindness will be missed.

— Amy Brodbeck

When I was a new teacher last year, she was so welcoming! She learned my name right away, she was always smiling, and ready to give me directions to wherever I needed to go as I was often lost in the building. I will miss her.

— Elida Guardia Bonet

Yolanda gives great hugs, just when you need them!

— June Bloch

She means a lot to me.  She’s been a faithful friend ever since I’ve known her.  I’ll miss her.  I wish her well and that she finds her retirement enjoyable.

— Mr. Whiz

Yolanda works in our area. She is always willing to do what needs to be done.  While they are short staffed and carrying a heavier load, she does not complain.

— Mindy Croom

Yolanda always made me laugh; it was a good way to end the day.  I loved the racy jokes or just laughable moments connected to teachers being like students….which sometimes we are…LOL.

She has a sense of caring; always saying, “Be safe or drive carefully; bad weather is coming in.”  Gave me a good feeling….that someone actually cared…like a sister.

— Lolly Randal

Yolanda has always been very complimentary to me about my appearance and what I’m wearing and how I look. Going down the hall she has given me hundreds of compliments over the years, and that kind of uplifting presence will certainly be missed. Someone who takes the time to make genuine, specific compliments about another person in a positive way is a great person to have around. She called me “Lady,” and I’m still not sure she knows my first name, but I liked to hear that “Lady” … and I will miss her.

— Melinda Von Rosenberg

Since my granddaughter, Isabella, a.k.a. Ella, was born 7.5 years ago, Yolanda has always been so kind and interested in her.  Before Ella started school, she would spend time with me at McCallum.  Over the years, Yolanda has come to know Ella.  A year and a half ago, I went to pick Ella up on the first day of school when she started the first grade. Upon arriving to McCallum, Yolanda was in our office area.  She immediately asked Ella “how school was,” to which Ella replied something to the effect that she did not like it and planned to drop out.

Yikes!  We laughed it off, hoping it was a phase.  Since that time, fortunately Ella has realized the value of education and has remained in school.  Needless to say, every time Yolanda sees Ella she ask her if she is still in school! I have always appreciated Yolanda’s care for Ella!

I wish her much happiness in retirement.  She deserves the best!

— Mindy Croom


Yolanda Zertuche, third from left, and her colleagues on the custodial staff. Photo by Ashley Chamberlain.


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