Rodney Thoby A Hidden Gem

From the cafeteria, take a right, and you will find yourself in the Zeoli Fieldhouse where Janitor Rodney Thoby spends most of his days interacting with both students and staff.

Thoby, with a mop in hand, cleans up the gym after another lunch wave, this being the fifth of the day. Yet, despite it all, his contagious smile never falters in the slightest. He loves the challenge, but most importantly, he loves being able to communicate with countless students each and every day.

Thoby’s warm and friendly demeanor has made him a shining star in the Wilton Public School System, and the kids cherish him dearly.

“I’m happy because I love what I’m doing for the kids,” Thoby said.

Thoby even mentions that when in a bad mood, he can always count on the kids to cheer him up by simply checking in.

“When the kids come up to me and say ‘Hi Mr. Rodney! How are you doing Mr. Rodney?’ I feel good, I feel happy,” Thoby said.

The beloved janitor has not spent all of his time in Wilton, but actually grew up in Haiti, and has been in the United States since 1995.

“I came to this country to get a better life,” Thoby said.

He traveled with his wife and two boys, Readmayer and Rod-djaly. Later, in America, his daughter Samantha was born, followed by his son Wooder, who is currently a senior at Wilton High School. He will be attending the University of Hartford in the fall.

Thoby says that he got most of his education in his home country, but attended Norwalk High School in Connecticut to learn English. His first jobs in America had nothing to do with the school system, but rather customer service.

“My first job, when I came in 1995, was at McDonald’s. And then after McDonald’s, I was working at the grocery store. And after the grocery store, I was working at a country club for nine years,” Thoby said.

Thoby worked specifically at the Birchwood Country Club in Westport, Connecticut. It was only after these jobs that a friend of his helped him get involved with the Board of Education.

“I started working at the Board of Education in 2000, now almost 21 years,” Thoby said.

Thoby has been a valuable member of the custodial staff for a long time in Wilton, but has only just started working at the high school.

“I worked for twelve years at Miller Driscoll, and then I worked for eight years at Cider Mill, and then almost one year at the high school,” Thoby said.

Despite spending a single year at the school, Thoby has formed an astonishing impact on the community as made clear from his kind soul and ability to communicate with anyone. Not to mention, in the beginning of the year, the school had to shut down because of the lack of custodial staff. This mere situation proves how essential janitors are to the school. They are singlehandedly responsible for whether school can occur or not, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 not only created challenges in Thoby’s work life, but also at home.

“My wife got COVID-19 because she was working in a nursing home. She brought it home and then tested positive. I tested positive and so did all of the kids. We were quarantined for 14 days,” Thoby said.

Fortunately, Thoby expresses, everything went back to normal once the two week quarantine was over. And after this unprecedented and crazy year, Thoby is even more grateful for his job, peers, and family.

“It’s a good school, it’s a good community, the teachers, the administration, the kids are lovely,” Thoby said.

While Thoby is a father himself, he feels like he has a family away from his own. The kids and faculty have created an inseparable community within Wilton that Thoby feels proud to be a part of.

“I am the father of all the kids. There are a thousand kids in the school and I am the father of them all. Because, you know, the way I like my kids is the same way I like them all.”

“I want to say thank you to everyone for letting me work for 21 years for the Board of Education. Thank you to the parents, the administration, and the kids," Thoby said.