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Goodman retires after 28 years behind the scenes

June 30, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Roger Goodman interacts with students throughout the school district every day, what he says is one of the number one joys of his job at every age level— yet he is largely unknown to the kids.

"They're always asking, 'Who's he?'" says Goodman. "I tell them I'm the person in charge of keeping your rooms a comfortable temperature and clean."

Teachers, principals, bus drivers, and secretaries are often the most recognizable of school employees— recognized and known by name by students and parents alike. As the executive director of operations, aquatics, and food service, Goodman may be unfamiliar to students, but for nearly three decades, he has been key to keeping things running smoothly in the district.

Next month, after 28-and-a-half years as the operations director, Goodman will retire. His wife, Donna, recently asked him how he would sum up his career, to which he responded, "It couldn't have been better than it was here in the school district in this community."

In the 1970s, Goodman was a pipe salesman who traveled a lot. When the job listing for the Brandon operations director was posted, he applied for the job, which includes taking care of all buildings in the district including plumbing and electrical issues, mechanical equipment, repairing the grounds for athletic activities, snowplowing, and de-icing of parking lots and driveways.

Goodman supervises repairs, directs employees, and takes care of project bids. He purchases supplies and equipment and has taken direction from five superintendents.

"When I first started, I had a list of what I wanted to do in a day and they smiled at me and said, 'Wait awhile,'" recalled Goodman. "Within a week, I realized our job is really to tackle problems as they come throughout the day."

The biggest change in his job has been the technological aspect. Goodman has overseen implementation of energy management programs that have resulted in major cost reductions, and has led the district in meeting new standards for arsenic and lead levels in drinking water.

Among the greatest difficulties he has faced is clearing snow in a timely manner to allow buses to drop off students at the eight district buildings, and bringing all equipment back online after a power failure.

An ice storm in the mid-1980s shut down the district for a week, after which Goodman remembers it was a major challenge to fire up the boilers in each building and repair all the leaks from frozen heat lines.

He recalls, too, the Christmas Eve around 1998 when he was on his way to a family gathering and received a call from the superintendent, who informed him someone passing by the aquatics center had seen steam coming out of the building and the windows fogged up. Goodman dropped wife Donna off at the party, headed to the school, and he and a crew he called in spent five hours cleaning up water from a burst pipe.

"It's part of the job that I never hesitated to take care of," said Goodman. "It's my responsibility."

In all his time here, he is proud that the district has never shut down because of a heating problem, other than what has been caused by Mother Nature and providing students a clean, comfortable and safe environment to learn in has been his top priority.

Goodman has even been recognized by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office for his efforts after he assisted Brandon deputies in 2004 in capturing a man who was wanted for serious crimes, including allegedly breaking into homes, entering Brandon Middle School, Brandon High School and the elementary schools, threatening children and attempting to sell drugs.

On several occasions, Goodman chased the subject from Harvey-Swanson Elementary and pursued him in the woods. He was present the day the man was finally captured.

Goodman has enjoyed good relationships with the fire and police departments and business owners in the community and said the school district is a family.

"With them, it's more like you're at home," he said. "We've had really good kids here, they've been excellent through the years for the most part. I will leave with fond thoughts of the people I've worked with over the years."

In his retirement, Goodman plans to travel to Arizona, golf, and spend time with his three children and six grandchildren, all of whom live in the Lake Orion area.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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