First Classified Employee Honored by San Francisco 49ers
Hasani Craft works as lead custodian at Dan Mini Elementary in Vallejo, CA.
Photo courtesy of Hasani Craft
On January 8, Hasani Craft of Vallejo Chapter 199 made history as he walked onto the field of Levi’s Stadium during the San Francisco 49ers’ last home game of the season.
As the first classified employee honored by the 49er Foundation’s “Teacher of the Game” program, the head custodian was surprised to learn he was nominated by his former principal for the honor usually reserved for teachers.
“At first I scrolled past the email as I thought it was spam. I had never heard of this recognition, I didn’t know it existed,” Craft told the Vallejo Times-Herald. “So, after reading the email, I found Mrs. Wheeler and asked her, ‘Uh, you know I’m not a teacher, right?’ But she told me that I absolutely deserved it and I absolutely was an educator.”
It’s often said that life isn’t measured by time, it’s measured in moments. For Craft in that moment, he carried with him onto the field the pride of his school on a day he’ll remember for as long as he bleeds red and gold.
“I put on for the school, the students, and the city that day. I’m a lifetime Niners fan, so it was everything,” Craft said. “The Niners’ staff were talking to me, but I was at a loss for words. I tried thanking them but they weren’t having it. They thanked me and made me feel so appreciated.”
Craft on the field of Levi's Stadium on January 8, 2023 Photo courtesy of Hasani Craft
“I put on for the school, the students, and the city that day. I’m a lifetime Niners fan, so it was everything”
- Hasani Craft of Vallejo Chapter 199
For 10 years, Craft has been a prominent fixture for the students and staff at Dan Mini Elementary in Vallejo, CA.
As the lone custodian during the day, Craft says the highlight of his job is his interactions with the nearly 500 students he sees on campus - a theme widely shared among CSEA members working in custodial services.
Within the world of education, custodians can often be overlooked compared to their campus colleagues.
And when districts face budgetary challenges, custodial staff have commonly found their jobs first on the chopping block, leading to understaffing and overworking this crucial group of classified workers.
“Every day is different, man. One day you may get all the attention from everybody. And then another day, I just go by kind of seamlessly, you know what I mean?” Craft admitted. “I usually say it's kind of a thankless job. But we are a vital part of the community of the school and a big part of lots of kids' lives.”
Craft’s commitment to his school community is reflected in his reliable work ethic. He is among the first to show up every morning unlocking gates and shutting off alarms to get the day started before teachers arrive.
Despite the name of the 49er Foundation’s recognition program being “Teacher of the Game”, growing public support has cast a spotlight on the vital contributions of classified staff in recent years.
“As a parent, I know, from many times having to go back to a school later in the day because my kid forgot a book or homework or something, that custodians are very important”
- Justin Prettyman, executive director of the 49er Foundation
“Bringing attention to the custodial classification is a long time coming. Without them, our sites would not be opened each day, ready to serve our students and staff,” said Kat Salas-Teitgen, chapter president of Vallejo Chapter 199.
“Classified Employees should have the same respect as teachers do. Without classified employees, teachers would not have students present in their classrooms to teach. Classified employees take care of the ‘whole child’. They have earned the respect of the public just as much as teachers.”
So, when it came time for the 49ers’ Foundation to recognize their very first classified employee, Craft was a natural choice as the ideal hardworking, humble honoree for what will hopefully be the beginning of many more for CSEA.
“As a parent, I know, from many times having to go back to a school later in the day because my kid forgot a book or homework or something, that custodians are very important,” said Justin Prettyman, executive director of the 49er Foundation.
“Custodians make sure that our schools are welcoming environments for our kids. I thought this was a really great opportunity to showcase someone that works hard at that job.”