‘I am very proud’ | DeKalb school custodian goes back to high school, graduates

Elmo Desilva, a DeKalb County school custodian, accepted his high school diploma. (Video from Atlanta News First, DeKalb County School District)
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 8:11 PM EDT
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STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday evening, a DeKalb County school custodian accepted his high school diploma during a district adult education ceremony.

“It wasn’t easy. It was a struggle for a while. And to achieve and get through it, and looking back, I am very proud,” said Elmo Desilva.

Desilva, 45, is a custodian within the school district at Indian Creek Elementary School in Clarkston.

He was one of forty-six adults to receive a high school diploma during a district graduation ceremony.

Earlier this year Desilva was eying a promotion to Head Custodian for the school.

But to be considered for the promotion, he needed a high school degree.

That’s when his school principal, Stephanie Brown-Bryant ushered him to the DeKalb County Adult Education Program

“By having our staff members equipped with educational opportunities, it will really lend itself to growth, not just for them but for our school,” said Brown-Bryant.

Desilva said he took night classes twice per week for nearly six months.

“I hate to fail at something. I didn’t want to start and not finish. I didn’t want to disappoint my boss,” said Desilva, in an interview with Atlanta News First on Friday.

As a teen, Desilva said he lived in an unstable home with parents who were not always around. He said he had to take on extra responsibility to take care of his younger siblings, and thus, his education had to wait.

“Had to make money to put food on the table and clothes on their backs as a young teenager. It just pulled me out of school,” Desilva said.

Desilva said being promoted to Head Custodian would help him support his family and plan for retirement.

He also said the position could potentially open up further professional opportunities.

When asked if Desilva earning his GED had positioned him for the Head Custodian position, Brown-Bryant said this:

“I think you might be seeing him around possible. Strong possibility that he will be our candidate our selected candidate. To be honest, I’ve already recommended him for the position.

(Some video used in story courtesy of DeKalb County School District)