School janitor used to work for NASA, recovering from stroke

From electromechanical designer to custodian, Maury is more than a janitor.

Many people who see him cleaning the halls at Coulter Grove Intermediate School don't know about Maury Forrester's previous career.

“I went from being an electromechanical designer to being a janitor and it was probably the best decision I ever made," he said.

Maury works a part-time shift at Coulter Grove. At 78, he is the oldest member on staff. He said the job helps improve his body and mind after he suffered a stroke in 2014.

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“My main problem is in my head," he said. “I catch myself trying to be so careful with what I’m saying that by the time I get part of it out I’ve forgotten what the subject matter was.”

If his mind has struggled, his body has not. Maury sweeps the halls meticulously, lifting chairs and pushing heavy equipment.

“Somebody said what the heck are you doing that for at 78? Why not? Why not 88 if you could do it? You know?” he said.

Many people at the school know him for his smile and positive attitude. However, most at Coulter Grove do not know Maury used to work for elite companies like NASA, General Electric, SpaceCo.

Learning this changed Principal Ramona Best's perspective.

“I think he’s an inspiration … I don’t think he realizes how much of an inspiration he is," she said. “Sometimes we have hard days. Things aren’t always joyful. And then you meet him and he’s pushing a broom and cleaning up after messy kids. 850 kids in the building or close to that and he’s doing it with joy.”

She said Maury is a living lesson for her students.

"We want to teach them that everyone is more than what they are on the surface," Best said.

Less than a year into his new career, Maury hopes his story will inspire others.

“When you look at someone, think of yourself in that position...maybe someone who’s had a stroke ... maybe someone who feels less fortunate, look at them as being a fellow human being,” Forrester said.

“I want them to see this and say hey, there’s hope. This guy can do this. Maybe I can pull myself up by the bootstraps.”