All cliches have a little truth in them. “It takes a village to raise a child” is one. Parents, grandparents, principals and teachers often are recognized as the village for their part in reaching a child, but at Portage Township Schools, mentors can be found in other departments, too.
Meet Autumn Vizena, custodian at Portage Township Schools for 15 years, and recently named head custodian at Willowcreek Middle School. Vizena is part of the school system’s village, standing as a strong example for children to pursue their goals and be persistent.
Born in Gary, Indiana, Vizena grew up in the Lake Station and Portage communities before settling in the New Haven area near Valparaiso. She left high school early to work full-time.
“I worked in restaurants since I was about 15 years old, and I got tired of it,” Vizena said of her customer service jobs in the industry.
After going back to school and graduating from Portage Adult Education, Vizena chose custodial work through the school system. Initially she wanted a position with weekends and holidays off to enjoy time with her two kids, but she soon started to enjoy the new environment.
“I’ve been in custodial [work] since 2005, mainly in the school systems,” Vizena said. “You meet a lot of different people, kids, and everything is different every day.”
Each day, she arrives willing and ready to help coworkers, though she believes she is just doing what is needed to be done. “I just work hard, do my job, and get along with people.”
That hard work is matched by her determination and persistence for what she wants in life. She encourages people to never give up, and stay persistent with their goals.
“I applied for the custodial supervisor position quite a few times, and never got the spot,” Vizena said. By working hard, gaining some experience and staying consistent, Vizena finally landed it.
“I’ve worked as the head custodian at Willowcreek Middle School since the end of August,” Vizena said. “You have to improve yourself for what you want in life.”
Although very excited about the job, Vizena understands that it’s important to remember her roots. “I try to remember where I came from. Starting in this new spot in life, and being in the custodial profession is hard work, but I’m doing my best and training others to do their best in the job.”
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, particularly around a campfire with her friends and family. “Inside I’m a very shy person, but once I come out I like to socialize and be friendly with people,” she said.