After a record breaking 898,220 votes in its nationwide contest, Cintas Corporation has crowned its newest custodial celebrity: Ted Qualli Jr. of Newtown Elementary in Philadelphia is the 2017 Janitor of the Year. Qualli captured more than 40 percent of the vote and will receive a $5,000 cash prize. His school will also receive $5,000 in products and services from Cintas and Rubbermaid Commercial Products.
“What a surprise. I’m so overwhelmed and I just can’t believe that it happened,” Qualli told the crowd that had gathered in the Newtown Elementary School auditorium to celebrate his win, as he fought back tears.
Qualli does everything from the heart, whether he’s teaching students about his service to the country on Veteran’s Day or handing out vegetable seedlings grown in his home garden to every student each spring. It’s clear he is a friend and an inspiration in addition to being an excellent janitor. In fact, students spontaneously break into chant, yelling “Qual-li! Qual-li!” any time he appears in a hallway or classroom.
“Ted is the glue that holds this school together and a role model to the entire community,” said Kevin King, Principal of Newtown Elementary. “Whether we have a student who’s concerned about monsters in the restrooms, kick balls stuck on the roof or a staff member with a flat tire, Ted is always there to help out.”
Nine contest runners up will also be awarded a $500 cash prize. They will also receive a $1,300 prize package from Rubbermaid consisting of cleaning tools and products to keep their schools in top shape.
“School janitors are the epitome of an everyday hero, going far beyond their requirements to provide students and staff with a clean and safe learning environment,” said Jillian Bauer, Assistant Marketing Manager, Cintas. “This contest is a way of shining a much needed spotlight on these hardworking heroes and giving them the recognition they deserve.”
“With nearly one million votes, this year’s outpouring of support shows the work of a janitor extends far beyond mopping and sweeping; reaching students, faculty, and entire communities,” said Michael Halak, President, Rubbermaid Commercial Products. “We’re excited to award Ted and the nine finalists with this outstanding achievement and look forward to honoring many more janitors as this contest grows.”