May 2016 Issue
April 22, 2016

My cool tools: Grounds laborer Gary Doubrava

Author: By Leslie Duncan Fottrell
Source: NYSUT United
Grounds laborer Gary Doubrava. Photo by Maria R. Bastone.
Caption: Grounds laborer Gary Doubrava. Photo by Maria R. Bastone.

Gary Doubrava says preparation is key to his job as a grounds laborer at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County. Since much of his time is spent outdoors on the school's picturesque, 43-acre campus, he has to be prepared to do different tasks in different seasons. "I definitely have to dress for the weather," he said. "I bundle up in winter and try to schedule doing the hardest outdoor work early in the day in the summer." This is a physically demanding job.

Doubrava is a School-Related Professional and a member of the New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees (FUSE). He has worked for the district for 12 years.

"In the spring, we clean up the surrounding area, cut the lawn, trim bushes and cut back weeds." He also cleans up trash and debris on the grounds, as needed. Winter is devoted to other important tasks, such as snow removal and salting.

If you've ever stood and admired your own freshly mown patch of turf, try to imagine the sense of pride Doubrava feels as he surveys the property at the end of the day.

"It's a good feeling to get compliments on the way the grounds look," he says with a smile.

Here are his spring and summer cool tools:

Trailer mower

This extremely cool high-powered tool helps Doubrava cover the large areas of the high school campus safely and efficiently.

Hand mower

For areas that are not accessible to the riding mower, Doubrava pushes a traditional lawn mower.

Weed wacker

Doubrava uses this to clean up and finish those edges where the mower can't reach.

Sunscreen and hat

Probably his most important tools focus on protection. Sunshine is healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Doubrava makes sure to protect himself from excessive exposure by wearing sunscreen and a hat. In the heat of the summer, he also takes water with him so that he does not overheat.

Hedge clippers

These help trim and sculpt the school's bushes and shrubbery for that tidy look.

My cool tools showcases the variety of tools NYSUT members use to make their jobs and projects sparkle.