WBHS fixture keeps school clean

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It’s not easy keeping a school clean for approximately 2,050 high school students. But Victor Brown, 53, manages to do his part with a smile.

Brown is one of four head custodians at Western Branch High School, where he’s kept the hallways, cafeteria and bathrooms clean for the past 20 years. He arrives at the school at 7 a.m. each and every weekday to work with fellow head custodian Floretta Hawkins.

While he’s cleaning up spilled Coke, crushed Cheetos and other incidentals, he’s constantly greeting the students and faculty that have come to know him well over the years.

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“This is one of the best schools I’ve even been in,” he said pushing his cleaning cart. “The kids are nice and very respectful.”
Brown came to work for Chesapeake Public Schools after working for a contractor at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The Norfolk native operates his own VAB Janitorial business named after his full name, Victor Antonio Brown.

When he’s done with an eight-hour day Brown goes home to spend time with his wife, Alfreada. The two have been married for about 20 years and have two daughters Kristina Ellis, 37, and Jennifer Smith, 31, plus two grandkids. His family worships at St. Mark’s Deliverance Center in Portsmouth, where he operates the soundboard for services, he said.

But he’s not just a great father to his children. Marion Jones, the late chief apostle of St. Mark’s, gave him a certificate for being the “Best School Dad” that he keeps in his office at Western Branch High School.

“Mr. Brown is a staple within this community,” said Dr. Thomas Whitley, principal of Western Branch High School. “He understands the importance of building relationships with the kids. There’s not one day where the kids can come in without Brown greeting them.”

When Brown walks through the halls humming Christian songs, students are often the first to say hello to him. According to Brandon Hardy, a security officer at WBHS and also a graduate of the class of 2003, Brown has been sharp since he first met him as a student and has kept his infectious positivity.

“He’s got this high, positive spirit,” Hardy said. “He’s just part of the school. If Mr. Brown wasn’t around here, then I don’t think it would be same and I think anybody would agree with me on that.”

The head custodian has joined Whitley in the same parade car waving at crowds. He’s suited up for Halloween, Christmas and other occasions to show school spirit. The school recently had its 50th anniversary celebration, with alumni going out of their way to catch up with him.

“Every one of them made their way to greet him and thank him for his contributions here,” Whitley said.

Brown believes in “treating others like you’d want to be treated” when it comes to the students. He also repeats over and over how important it is for them to get their education and prepare their futures.

“I tell them that it ain’t easy out there, and that you get out what you put in,” he said.