Danele Smith & Donna Keefe

As Danele Smith, the only woman on the grounds crew, puts it, "You name it, we do it. From sandbagging during the Mother's Day floods to helping set up the chairs for graduation, we do whatever needs to be done. You're always learning something new here—how to prune trees, operating the Bobcat—it's always an education."

Facilities Management employees bring an array of skills to their work, regardless of their designated departments, but perhaps chief among them is a knowledge of older buildings and how to maintain them. There are 130 buildings on Exeter’s campus that need to be maintained and kept available for use 365 days a year. The Academy campus covers 670 acres, which also requires daily attention from the grounds crew through the Northeast’s ever-changing seasons. The work the facilities team does has an impact on the lives of everyone at Exeter.

For these employees, it's more than a job. They are integral to the community at Exeter, and they value being able to make contributions that go beyond maintaining the campus. Custodian Donna Keefe starts her mornings in Bancroft Hall and Kirtland House by going through the hallways checking for trash, but she's also on the lookout for students who may be in the common areas studying. "I make sure the girls are OK," she says. "If someone's had a bad night, I call the dorm head and let her know. We're there to clean, but we're also there to be an extra set of eyes."

This piece was adapted from The Exeter Bulletin.