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CFS area manager attributes her success to the Golden Rule

2014 May 15
by HISD Communications

In this week’s I Am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Construction & Facility Services Custodial Area Manager (and Waltrip HS alumna) Barbara Mora talks about how a neighbor’s tip led her to a 35-year career with Team HISD, why she’s so highly regarded by those who work with her, and what family tragedy spurred her to volunteer with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

How did you come to be an HISD employee? I know you began working here not long out of Waltrip High School, right?

Barbara Mora with her husband, James

Barbara Mora with her husband, James

Yes. I attended Stevens Elementary, Black Junior High, and Waltrip Senior High schools. I was raised in Houston and left when I got married. After being married for a few years, I returned home, divorced with two children, an infant and a toddler. I was a single parent looking for a miracle. My neighbor was retiring from HISD, and he opened the door for me. Finally, life gave me a great opportunity to prove myself and I’m so grateful I was given the chance. I started out as a scheduler making $5.25 per hour, but I felt like I hit the jackpot.

Your official title now is area manager of custodial operations, and you oversee three team leaders and about 320 people at 82 different schools/facilities on the city’s southeast side. How many promotions have you gotten over the years?

I have been promoted or changed titles five times in the 35 years I’ve been here.

You’re something of a rarity, having lived in the same area of town for almost your entire life. What’s that been like for you, and what do you think about the changes you’ve seen in Oak Forest over the years, particularly at the schools?

I love the fact that I live in the same house where I grew up, with all the memories. But I also like the idea that young families are coming back into the area. All the new construction is an adjustment, but I know it’s inevitable and my community is changing for the better. I can see why builders choose this area. We have beautiful trees and an established family-friendly neighborhood. The schools are working hard to bring the neighborhood children back.

At one point, HISD was a family affair, with your husband, your daughter, and even your late son working for the district. How did that come about and what made it so appealing to all of you?

My husband, James, was working long hours conducting leadership and safety classes for his employees—all the same type of training classes that we have here. He applied and was hired for the senior trainer position, which he loves. At one point, my daughter was a registered nurse at M.D. Anderson, but she wanted to work hours she could be with her children, so she began working at T. H. Rogers. My younger son began in HISD as an hourly summer worker in the Furniture Warehouse while attending high school. Then he began working in the Hazardous Materials department while attending HCC to become an electrician. Unfortunately, we lost him in a motorcycle accident in 2011 at the age of 21, but I feel blessed to be surrounded by loving and supportive people in the district. Many have been with me since the time I was pregnant with him and supported me after his loss.

A number of people have told me how highly regarded you are as a manager, not just by your colleagues and superiors, but also by your underlings. Your husband says it’s because you’re open-minded, a good listener, and you ask questions to get a complete picture before taking action. Would you agree with that? If not, what do you attribute your success to, and why is it so important to you?

I have always felt that treating people like I want to be treated is an important part of managing people. Respect is not something that is demanded, it is earned. I drill into folks that we are not just the cleaning folks—we create an environment. Every student, teacher, and administrator should have a clean, inviting place to work.

Your husband also said you keep him in line at home. True?

As you know, that is an on-going project. (Laughs)

I understand your family has been involved with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for some time now. What first got you interested in that, and what keeps you coming back year after year?

I have only been volunteering for three years, but James has been involved for about 12. I stepped up after Rich had his accident. Everyone was there for us, because he had been volunteering and they all thought a lot of him. Now that I see how it really helps children get to college, I feel good about doing my part.

If you know a graduate, student, employee, or other member of Team HISD who should be featured here, please email us at info@houstonisd.org.
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