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After COVID coma, Texas school custodian finds renewed appreciation for job

Shawn Lewis spent 45 days in the hospital and lost 50 pounds.

CEDAR HILL, Texas — Looking for the greatest job in America? It can be found at Permenter Middle School in Cedar Hill. Just ask the custodian.

“It’s a great job,” said custodian Shawn Lewis. “I love my job. It’s just something, I get to come in, workout, do my job and that’s it. It’s fun to me.”

Lewis has worked for the district for five years and in that time, he has gone way above and beyond, helping teachers and encouraging kids.

Staff members say his impact is invaluable.

“He comes in every day with a great attitude,” said principal John Ensley.

“He just does his job well and he never complains about it,” sixth grade English teacher Tamara Williams said.

“We all appreciate and love him,” said seventh grade science teacher Cynthia Arceneaux. “We couldn’t be here without him. We couldn’t be here at school without him.”

That’s why it was so hard when they nearly had to go on without him.

In January 2020, Lewis was quite possibly one of the first people in the country to have COVID-19.

He spent 45 days in the hospital and lost 50 pounds. Things were so dire, doctors weren’t even sure he’d survive.

“They had to put me in a coma,” Lewis said. “They had to put me in a coma just so they could save my life.”

When he finally came out of the coma two weeks later, he couldn’t walk, talk or eat on his own.

Eventually, though, he did recover and by the time he came back to work a year and a half later, he was grateful.

“From everything I’ve been through in 2020, learning how to walk again, talk again and get everything back, I’m just happy to be back,” Lewis said.

Because he loves the job so much, he’s entered his name in the running for national custodian of the year.

Whatever the results, Lewis says he’s already been rewarded with a brand-new perspective.

“I love everything more now,” Lewis said. “I love life, everything more. Because everything was almost taken, not just the job, everything. My life was almost gone. I’m just happy I got everything back.”

Lewis believes his work behind the scenes gives him a golden opportunity to impact students’ lives.

“I hope I do,” he said. “I hope I do. I hope I do.”

That’s how you make any job the greatest job in America.

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