How One Buildings and Grounds Manager is Creating a Better Environment
Article written by: Donna Martini for New Jersey’s School Leader Magazine
Anthony Voiro is one of many buildings and ground’s managers who believe kids and teachers deserve the most brilliant environment he can create. And it wasn’t something he learned. Most likely, Anthony is one of many people who innately “feel” energy in a space, using all of their senses to pick up negativities in color, space, flow, and even attitude. This incorporation of ‘feeling out the negativity’ along with desire for positive change adds up to what is now commonly referred to as “Feng Shui”: The ancient Chinese art and science of designing natural and man-made surroundings for empowerment and positive energy.
Although seemingly a catch phrase for the design movement nowadays, Feng Shui (pronounced “Feng Shway” and translated as wind and water) has serious roots of origin. It is the utilization of furniture, doorway, and window placement, color, movement and texture of materials to create a more balanced and positive environment for life, work and study.
Anthony admits that he wasn’t aware of his proclivity for positive chi energy, but he was certainly aware of the negative conditions that were precluding the school from being more appealing to its daily inhabitants. After only his first week of employment with Shawnee High School in Medford, New Jersey), he set out to eliminate any cause of possible negative influence.
Starting with the visual, he immediately contracted a painting company to spray all existing lockers in one color, creating a uniform hallway instead of the un-matched chipped paint that so blatantly ran through the corridors. This instantly created a flow and orderly feel. Along the same venue, Anthony asked his students, “What can I do to help keep all of you from littering the halls?” The answer back was simple; “Give us trash cans.” And so it was done and the hall litter was eliminated.
Anthony didn’t stop there. Before he could continue to reinvent the neglected school, he needed the full support of staff, some of whom had not cared about their environment for some time. Mr. Voiro called a meeting of his custodial staff and told them of his dream to make the school a place where everyone would love to come to work. He went on to tell them about how important their job was to the kids, as important as a teacher, because ‘kids won’t want to learn if they aren’t happy with their surroundings’. Lastly he asked for everyone’s cooperation. Anthony understood that pessimistic or unconstructive attitudes would create a downbeat atmosphere and there was no room in his building for that.
Within a short time, everyone was on board and the changes rapidly continued. The bathrooms were cleaned up and made to feel homey, some even stocked with silk flowers. Garbage and clutter were removed from all around the premises, condensing down to one section where it could be easily contained. Anthony started to condense cleaning products as well, going from 40 different surface cleaners down to only a few which were