His wife and two children – a 10-month-old and a 3-year-old – were enough of an impetus for Thaddeus Merritt to leave his job working an overnight shift as a stockperson at Kroger for a position with Richland One. He credits his mother-in-law, who also works for the district, with encouraging him to apply to stabilize his family structure.
“She was just telling me that Richland One is good and the benefits are real good,” said Merritt. “She said I needed to start thinking about benefits and stuff like that because now I have a family.”
Her advice, coupled with his being away from his family at night, led him to the temp agency to inquire. Initially a “Temp to Hire” custodian at Caughman Road Elementary School, Merritt immediately asked how he could become a full-time employee.
“When I first met Mr. Merritt, I interviewed him and his goal was to become permanent from the very beginning, and he did exactly that,” said Petrina Green, an area supervisor for Building Services. “He did everything that I asked him to do. There was never a time we had to ask him to do anything a second time.”
To become a permanent, full-time employee, Merritt was asked to take the WIN Career Readiness Test. He scored high enough to qualify for a supervisory position and will be considered now that he is an employee of the district.
He performs a number of custodial and grounds-keeping tasks, including sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning restrooms, disinfecting surfaces, blowing leaves and so much more. The pandemic has exacerbated hiring efforts in Richland One and across the country, so the district was fortunate to find someone like Merritt, said Green.
“It is hard to find young men – people in general to work these type of skills jobs,” she said. “He was ready. He was eager. He was adamant.”
Merritt is sharing his experience with others, too. In fact, he said that whenever he is asked about his job by people in his neighborhood who see him in uniform, he is quick to provide the information they need to apply. He said he believes in Richland One.
“With everything going on right now, this is a stable job with good benefits and good pay,” said Merritt. “We have a good crew. Everyone that I’ve met in the district is really nice, and I just kind of fell in love with working here. So, I would definitely say, apply.”
As for those who are grooming him for the next level, Merritt says he is most appreciative.
“I just want to thank Mrs. Green, Mr. Garner and Mr. Walker for taking me under their wing and helping me out,” he said.
Merritt’s son, Zayn, is enrolled in the Montessori program at Caughman Road Elementary so at the close of each day, he walks in the shadow of his father to exit the school building. It’s another perk of the job, Merritt said.