Leroy Collins Jr.: A hidden hero of RJR


Photo provided by Charlie Stoter

Custodian Leroy Collins Jr. shows his uplifting smile while he waits for the elevator ready to continue his custodial duties.

Charlie Stoter, Feature Editor

    The year 2023 marks one hundred years of tradition, prideful school events, and demon spirit at RJ Reynolds High School. Past memories and traditions flow through the halls of our historical buildings, making RJR the place everyone wants to be. 

    Our custodial staff is crucial to keeping such an essential and influential campus. They work day in and day out to keep this historical landmark clean and accessible for all students. Leroy Collins Jr. leads our custodial team to success with a smiling face, embracing students in their everyday lives. 

    “I make sure the building is clean, the floors are clean, and I do whatever else needs to be done,” Collins said.

    Collins has always held sports close to his heart; they shaped him into who he is today. In addition to a fun after-school activity, sports kept Collins on the right track and involved in high school. Although not originally from Winston-Salem, Collins grew up just south in Jacksonville, Florida. While in Jacksonville, he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School [now Riverside High School est. in 2021] in 1977

    “I played a lot of sports, that’s what kept me intact,” Collins said. “When I messed up in school, my momma took that away. I played football, basketball, and baseball all through high school.”

    Collins has continued to take his passion for sports, especially basketball, into his later life. During his time outside RJR, he continues to help out in the community and coach basketball in his spare time. 

    “I coach basketball for kids aged 9-11 and 12-15,” Collins said. “I have some of my kids go here. I have grandkids, and I coach basketball at the YMCA in Kernersville for 5-6-year-olds.”  

    During his time as a kid, Collins took up a liking for helping the community by lending a hand to his neighborhood and the people around him who needed assistance. 

    “Growing up, I used to help old people and all the little kids running around,” Collins said. “We would go to the store and help out on the weekend to make a little extra money.”

    As a Lead Custodian, Collins has more than just clean-up duty and the responsibility to make our campus enjoyable for everyone. He is a friendly face for students and staff to lean on and a person to lighten the moods of fellow demons.

    “I love the students,” Collins said. “I am a friendly person, and when I see someone down, I ask ‘what’s wrong?’, help them out, and talk to them to try to put a smile on their face.”

    Being around the RJR campus for nine years and a part of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools system for thirty-one years, Collins has made himself well-known and well-respected. In May of 2021, Collins won Districted Classified Employee of the Year.

    Not only is Collins loved by students around campus, but his fellow custodians enjoy the environment Collins and other administration create with their leadership. 

    “It’s a beautiful school, and it’s always been a great place to work,” Custodian Candyce Ellison said. “It’s just a good place to be. All of our principles are wonderful. It’s good to have a principal like Mr. Freeman because he is so he’s such a positive person that you makes you motivated. We’ve always seemed to have admin who are motivators.”

    As our RJR students and staff proceed through their days, remember the length our custodial staff goes to keep our campus clean. Collins and the rest of the custodial staff are the hidden heroes to ensure RJR has its same charm as it did in 1923.