UAH Rise School welcomes new staff member Kevin Battle

kevin battle

Director Deana Aumalis with custodian Kevin Battle at Rise School.

Courtesy photo from the UAH Rise School

As a facilities maintenance employee, Kevin Battle has the most important job of all at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Rise School: preserving the health and environmental wellness of every student and teacher.

"I really enjoy working at the Rise School. I want the school to be safe and clean for the students," said Kevin Battle. "It is very important to me that the environment at Rise School stays clean for the children to come learn and play in."

The UAH Rise School provides the highest quality early childhood education services to children with developmental disabilities and children without disabilities.

"Kevin has a hearing loss and a motor impairment, which may be cerebral palsy," said Deana Aumalis, Director of the UAH Rise School. "He has adapted handles on his mop and broom to assist with his tasks at Rise. He does an excellent job keeping the classrooms clean for the children and the office area clean as well. Kevin checks in with me regularly to make sure everything is done to the satisfaction of the teachers and myself."

Battle's recent hire was a joint effort with the UAH Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS). "The working relationship between UAH, ADRS and Phoenix has evolved over the years," said Lisa Rivers, UAH Employment and Compensation Associate. Rivers said the university has achieved many successful outcomes for disabled individuals seeking employment on campus. She noted that finding employment as a disabled person at the university is easier, because of the business relationships with the two vocational employers. UAH is always looking for other sources of recruiting individuals with disabilities. "Once hired, the new employees become part of the UAH family," Rivers said.

Several weeks ago, Daniel Boutwell, UAH Director of Custodial Services spoke with Rivers about the need for a custodian at the Rise School. With Rivers's assistance, Boutwell met with Harriett Hollingsworth, a representative of ADRS and an interpreter. Boutwell said Hollingsworth was a big help during Battle's interview, explaining the job duties at Rise School.

"Kevin bought an impressive resume to UAH. He had ample experience from his previous positions as custodian at the Marshall Space Flight Center and a branch of the U.S. Post Office. All Kevin asked at the end of the interview was for a chance, and I was sold," said Boutwell.

Aumalis said Battle's daily duties include cleaning and sanitizing all rooms to have them ready for children and staff the following day. "We have been very pleased with the quality of his work since he started. Kevin's hours are currently later in the afternoon when most of our staff and children have gone home," Aumalis explained.

"I hope that Kevin will want to move with us next year when we relocate our classrooms to our permanent home that is currently University Place Elementary School," Aumalis said. "I also look forward to having the Rise School as a placement opportunity for other adults with disabilities in our community to find employment."

Aumalis recently visited the Rise School on the campus of The University of Alabama (UA) in Tuscaloosa and learned they have a program for employing former Rise students. "One of my previous students, Ian Terry, an adult with Down Syndrome (class of 1992) is currently employed through the program at UA."

"I feel part of the Rise School family," said Battle. "The people here respect me and appreciate the work I do. I make sure that the school stays clean for teachers, children and the parents. The part that I like best is being able to clean Rise School to the best of my ability and knowing that my work here makes a difference," he said.

Boutwell noted that Battle has gone above and beyond his normal job duties by contacting him about potential maintenance hazards at the school before they become problematic.

"Kevin is an asset to the Rise School," said Boutwell. "He takes pride in his job. Almost everyday Kevin sends me a text message just to check in and give me feedback during his busy routine. I am really pleased in the quality of Kevin's work and his passion to maintain the cleanliness of the facility for the children and employees of Rise School."

** Editor's Note: President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on June 26, 1990. The civil rights law prohibits discrimination based on disability.



Joyce Anderson-Maples