High School Ahead Academy hero places sharp focus on helping students

As Michael McClendon begins his day at High School Ahead Academy, you can usually find him moving about the campus, stopping to check in with various students along the way.

The dedicated employee often serves a mentor and role model for the nearly 200 students on campus. He listens to their joys and frustrations, offering a kind word or two in return.

As the school’s lock-up custodian, he doesn’t have to take on those extra roles. But he wants to.

“He always watches out for the students and encourages them,” Administrative Assistant Annetta Randel said. “They appreciate his caring presence and that has kept them focused on their studies.”

McClendon was awarded the Business Operations Customer Service Impact Award for June. The students and staff said they nominated their beloved employee as a way to thank him for always going above and beyond his daily duties.

The Award recognizes Business Operations employees who display exemplary performance, deliver fantastic customer service, and regularly go above and beyond to add value to their division and positively influence co-workers. 

More than 40 people attended online and in person for McClendon’s award presentation, applauding and congratulating him for his achievement.

“I thank you all for this award,” McClendon said proudly. “I will treasure it.”

Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations Northwest Area Team Lead Rickey Brown said it was difficult to recruit employees for long stretches of work during the height of the pandemic. But not McClendon, who is known as a team player with a can-do attitude.

 “Every time I asked Mr. McClendon to help out with a campus need, regardless of the district location, he stepped up to serve – and still does,” Brown said.

The school’s Wraparound Services program also benefits from McClendon, who is a regular food pantry donor. He said food support has been a focus for him since last Thanksgiving, when he was able to provide meals for a few students and their families.

The front office staff call him a team player and are grateful for his can-do attitude.

“It says a lot about someone who thinks about helping students after a hard day’s work,” Principal John Flowers said. “Mr. McClendon is an exceptional person and a great custodian, too!”