In the morning, Bayardo Mendoza can be seen wearing his green security polo and directing traffic with a constant smile on his face.
In the afternoon, he puts on his blue custodial shirt and works as a custodian.
Though he has only been working for the Miami-Dade School System since 2008, he has been in the United States for 30 years. He left Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, in 1985, after a regime change.
Mendoza was studying in the military academy under the Somoza regime, but when Somoza was deposed, and the Sandinistas took power, Mendoza felt persecuted.
He took it upon himself to leave with his family, and move to the safer United States. After arriving in America, Mendoza found a job at Navarro, where he worked for his first 22 years here. However, when Navarro was bought by CVS, every worker was required to speak English, which Mendoza cannot, and older workers were pushed out.Luckily, a friend of Mendoza’s who still worked at Navarro helped Mendoza get a job with the school system.
After working at Ronald Reagan Senior High School in Doral, Mendoza was transferred to MAST Academy last year as security. This year he has taken on two jobs, as a security guard and a custodian. Mendoza’s work ethic is highly regarded and noted by students and teachers alike.
“He seems to be someone who really cares about his work, he’s good humored and always willing to help. I think he’s contributing a lot to the school,” Spanish teacher Lynn Paisley said.
It is a common sight to see Mendoza polishing the floors and cleaning the restrooms of the new building in the afternoon.
“As soon as I leave my room he enters to clean,” debate teacher Lindsey Peters-Jorge said.
Mendoza took on the extra work because it is double the income. He still has a fourteen year old daughter to take care of at home. His other children are 34 and 36, and were born in Nicaragua. They currently work in insurance and pool cleaning, respectively.
Mendoza likes working at MAST. He says it is a calm school, unlike some other high schools, and that the academics are impressive.
“Estoy super orgulloso de trabajar en esta escuela,” Mendoza said. “I’m very proud to work at this school.”