Kevin Doan went to work at his alma mater the day after he graduated St. Thomas More High School in 1977. For the past 44 years, he has worked in maintenance at the school.
He said he had not planned on working in the same place he attended high school for his entire career, but he said God had other plans.
“I graduated on a Sunday in May 1977 and started work the next day full-time in the summer cutting grass. That fall, I continued working part-time while going to MATC full-time. I worked part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer,” he said. “I eventually graduated from UWM in 1983 with a degree in criminal justice.”
Doan’s goal was to become a U.S. Marshal and work in the Witness Protection Program. However, the mid-1980s wasn’t the best time to apply to be a police officer, as many others were applying to the police departments.
“I continued working while applying for cop jobs, taking tests and being on various lists. After about two years of this, I was offered full-time employment (at STM),” said Doan, who was promoted to director of buildings and grounds at the school in 2001. “By this time, I was married with two kids and needed the benefits.”
His two sons, Ryan and Shawn, both also graduated from St. Thomas More.
According to Kevin Russell, the marketing director at St. Thomas More, Doan has kept the school clean and maintained, and the students safe under the restrictions of a bare-bones budget.
“With the main section of the school built in 1931, accomplishing these goals often involves addressing unexpected, complex challenges. Kevin is often asked to perform urgent projects with little-to-no notice – sometimes during nights and weekends – such as removing water from basement classrooms after a bad rainstorm, diagnosing a failing boiler, cleaning up an unexpected mess before a game or event, removing long-forgotten, sometimes smelly, items from student lockers during the summer, and preparing the school to safely host guests during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Russell said.
With just a summer’s notice, Doan led St. Thomas More’s transition from an all-boys school to co-ed in 1989.
Doan said he enjoys the St. Thomas More family, where everyone works as a team in a tightly woven family atmosphere.
“Everyone truly strives to put forth a quality education. Both of my sons graduated from STM, and my grandson is presently a senior there,” he said. “It was nice to see them during the day while working. Hopefully, my granddaughter will go to STM, but that will be several years down the road.”
Money has been a struggle since the beginning of his employment, and Doan recalled that putting “Band-Aids” on everything was commonplace.
“Today, however, that is not the case. The school has turned the corner, and our finances have allowed us to get projects completed,” Doan said. “Going co-ed was a start to better times. Putting an addition on to the school in 2001 and doing a renovation a few years ago was very rewarding and an accomplishment I was proud of. Through all the years, I have been very blessed with top-quality maintenance staff.”
His parents sent him to St. Thomas More because of the exemplary education. When he was a student, to help with his tuition costs, he participated in the school’s work program, earning $1.40 per hour from eighth grade until he graduated.
“God has always been a big part of my life, and working here at STM, I am with him every day,” he said. “At age 62, I still sometimes think of what may have been if I had been a cop. Several years after college, I took a criminal law class and was appointed to the Fire and Police Commission for the city of St. Francis, which I served for 15 years.”
Doan said he has seen school presidents, principals and teachers come and go since the 1970s. While some have been better than others, they were all dedicated and striving for excellence.
“The students have always come first, and that remains today. It all boils down to everyone doing their part, working as a team and being the best they can. I have seen it time and time again. STM has been very good to me and for me,” he said. “I must admit that maintenance work was not what I had planned for my life. God had another plan for me. There is an old saying, and it goes like this, ‘If God shuts a door, quit banging on it. Whatever was behind it wasn’t meant for you. Consider that maybe he closed that door because you were worth so much more.’ I have finally stopped banging on the door.”