By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 7, 2019
FAYETTEVILLE—Jorge Londoño, native of Colombia, South America, is the plant operator for Our Lady of Mercy High School and ensures the school’s various systems from electrical to plumbing are running smoothly. Londoño, also an OLM parent, is this year’s Catholic Schools Week staff honoree for the Fayetteville high school.
“I love to be here. It doesn’t feel like a job,” said Londoño.
In the award nomination, Our Lady of Mercy Principal Bill Dooley said Londoño “makes the OLM world go around” in accepting every challenge, even those that fall outside the job description.
The two have termed Londoño’s creative solutions to problems, the “Colombian way.”
A commercial airline pilot in his native country, Londoño and his wife, Paola, decided to move to the United States in 2002 because of turmoil in Colombia.
They first settled in Florida, but moved to Georgia after looking for a friendly place to call home. There was one important criterion when selecting a place to live.
“The only condition we had was to find a nice Catholic school,” said Londoño.
Londoño’s sons, Tomas and Nicolas, attended Our Lady of Victory School before Mercy. Tomas is a senior and Nicolas, a sophomore. Paola Londoño also works at the high school as an assistant in the business office.
“The whole family is 100 percent Mercy,” he said.
Working at the school, gives Londoño a chance to be involved in his sons’ educations and to get to know their classmates.
“We’re pretty close,” said Londoño about the relationship with his children.
Londoño previously worked as a manager for AT&T, and then for a friend’s small business. He began working at OLM four years ago after seeing the position for plant operator advertised.
“I took the chance,” he said. “It’s one of the most interesting jobs I’ve ever done.”
His work entails making sure the HVAC system is functioning properly, as well as electronics, sound systems, classroom projectors, plumbing, troubleshooting and handling general repairs at the building. When a new sound system console in the theatre wasn’t working as expected, Londoño conducted some research on the problem, and moved microphone bases to new locations.
“It works like a charm,” he said.
It’s about learning little by little to “extend the life of the systems,” said Londoño. A savings of $100 here or there can add up.
He oversaw the transition from manual to automatic flush systems in the school’s bathrooms which he compared as moving from a “bicycle to a Rolls-Royce.”
Londoño is a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church, Peachtree City, where he is an usher. The family also assists with the St. Francis Table soup kitchen ministry.
A recent graduate sent Londoño a note thanking him for “being the heart of Mercy.”
When Londoño learned he had been nominated by his peers as the school’s honoree, he said it was a nice to know that his work mattered.
“It was hard to hide my smile,” he said.