Russell Mims named McAuliffe Middle Hero of the Heart

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Russell Mims, Los Al Unified Classified Employee of the Year, honored by McAuliffe Middle.

Russell Mims is a soft-spoken guy

In fact, he works the night shift. Not only is Mims very happy doing his job, he is very good at it.

A man of very few words, this middle school night custodian generally lets his deeds speak for him. Mims was named McAuliffe Middle School’s Hero of the Heart for 2021 at Tuesday’s board meeting where there were plenty of officials who wanted to talk about him.

Earlier this year, Mims was named by the District as the 2021 Classfied Employee of the Year, making the year of COVID a rewarding year for this unassuming technician who has been with the district for almost two decades.

District Supt. Dr. Andrew Pulver, who once taught science at McAuliffe Middle school, literally jumped from his seat at the dais Tuesday to make the Hero of the Heart presentation to Mims himself, saying it was at McAuliffe when he first got to know Mims.
Pulver began to speak as McAuliffe Principal, Ryan Weiss-Wright, Ed.D., looked on.

“Every single night,” said Pulver, custodians like Mims “are going in there and electrostatic spraying every single classroom, making sure that every touch point is clean and sanitized.” “I know more work has been added this year,” said Pulver, but Mims “just continues to say yes.”

Because of COVID, administrators, teachers and staff have depended on classified employees to constantly clean and sanitize every touch point to keep the school environment safe.

“We take that for granted, but (in person instruction during COVID) would not be possible without exceptional employees like our Classified Employee of the Year Russell, who’s our night custodian, and really all of our classified employees,” he said.

Mims, said Pulver, “is a beloved employee who just brings joy to everything that he does.” The district superintendent said he got to know Mims and his family while teaching science at McAuliffe (Pulver taught middle school science for seven years).

“No job is too big, too small or too menial,” he said, and Mims does his job “with a sense of pride and with a sense of work ethic.”

Teachers and then staff know that Mims goes above and beyond to provide a clean and safe environment, said Pulver. In doing so, Mim is “really just bringing a sense of sparkle and a sense of joy within his own sense of personality.”

The superintendent said Mims has “a very infectious personality, he’s an amazing father as well.” Over the years, said Pulver, “I had great opportunities to talk to him about his kids along the way.”

Mims is “just someone who goes above and beyond for all no matter what someone asked him.”

Board President Marlys Davidson, who taught American History at McAuliffe for 25 years before being elected to a seat on the LAUSD Board, said she remembered Mims as always having “a gigantic smile.

Also, she said anytime any of the female teachers would have to work late, Sims would never let them walk to the gate alone.

“You could always turn a classroom into a sparkle,” Davidson told him, adding that she believed he was most deserving of the recognition.

“We know we have amazing employees in Los Alamitos Unified School District, for you to stand out above the rest, really speaks volumes to the kind of employee that you are,” said

Dr. Joe Fraser, Assistant Supt. of Human Resources.

Weiss-Wright, McAuliffe’s principal, said while Russell is part of an “amazing team,” he stands out because no matter what is asked of him, he says “absolutely, right away.”

“I think that he does that for all of us and does it with a smile,” Weiss-Wright said, “and he does it with students in mind.”

“I think what really stands out is the tireless work that most of the time, kids don’t see,” he added.

When kids are leaving, Mims is generally just getting to work, the McAuliffe Principal said, “but the work that he does makes it possible for them to be there every day and he does it with such grace and positivity.”

“There is such a family feel about him and that is really what endears him to McAuliffe and makes him so deserving of district Classified Employee of the Year,” said Weiss-Wright, “so I’m very, very fortunate and proud to be working alongside Russell.”

Russell himself, meanwhile, remained true to his character and was a man of few words. Nevertheless, the few words he spoke after receiving the award were obviously from the heart. “I get tongue tied, so you have to excuse me,” Mims started off.

“I would just like to say thank you and I appreciate it. I really don’t like to talk too much but I really do appreciate it and thank you very much.”

With that, Russell Mims accepted the Hero of the Heart Award for 2021. It was still early.
Remember, he works the night shift, so he was likely in a hurry to get back to work.