Custodian who won school district's employee of the year plans to spend $5,000 prize on tombstone for late mother

Yesy Gonzalez was named staff member of the year for Madison City Schools in Madison, Ala. She plans on using her $5,000 prize to buy her late mother a tombstone. (Photo: WAFF)

Custodians are often at schools before the first bell rings and long after students leave to ensure they have a clean place to learn. At James Clemons High School in Madison, Ala., one custodian regularly earns recognition and praise for her dedication to the job.

Yesy Gonzalez, who tells WAFF that the secret to her job is "to do everything with love," has won staff member of the year twice at James Clemons High School.

This year, however, she was named staff member of the year for the entire Madison City Schools district. With that honor, she was also given $5,000.

“I was very surprised because we have a lot of hard-working people who work for the system and just to be me that wins I’m still in shock, I’m still shaken about it,” Gonzalez told WAFF.

Gonzalez told the news station that she plans to buy buying her late mother a tombstone.

"She passed away a little more than a year ago and that’s my plan, to spend the money," Gonzalez said through tears.

Jennifer Flanagan, an assistant principal at the high school, says that while Gonzalez may have lost her mother last year, the school, including the faculty and students, is still a part of her family.

“She is more than just a custodian. She’s more than just a staff member here, she’s family," Flanagan said. "This is more than a job for Yesy, this is her passion. Her passion is not just for kids, it’s for people."

“They always compliment how clean our school is and that’s what makes me happy to see how people react when they come to our school. The secret is do everything with love, with your heart and work hard,” said Gonzalez.

Representatives at James Clemons High School and Madison City Schools did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.