And the winner of the 2019 Custodian of the Year contest is… Aristeo Flores! With over 278,600 votes, Cintas Corporation crowned Flores of Scotts Valley Middle School, California, the 2019 Custodian of the Year earlier this week.
Known for his warm, kind smile, Flores is an integral part of the Scotts Valley Middle School community. His gentle demeanor, sense of humor, and hard work has left a positive impact on students past and present for the last 17 years. So when the opportunity came for his town of 12,000 to show him just how much he means to them, they swept the national contest and won with more than 30 percent of the vote.
During a surprise award presentation ceremony at the school, Flores was met with 530 overjoyed students who thought they were attending a pep rally. Complete with T-shirt cannons, giant balloons, a staff dance, and an ice cream truck with treats for the whole school, it was clear why the 73-year-old isn’t ready to retire — his love of the students.
“We pulled together on his behalf because we love him, but not only do we love him but he keeps us going,” Scotts Valley Middle School principal Mary Lonhart told the Santa Cruz Sentinel, reflecting on Flores’ above-and-beyond contributions to the campus during its third year of ongoing construction. “He’s 1,000 percent reliable, here every single day rain or shine, always with a kind smile.”
Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Flores has worked at Scotts Valley Middle School for 17 years. In an emotional speech from his son Miguel, Flores was described as someone who’s been an underdog his whole life.
“My dad is an immigrant from Mexico who came here for the American Dream,” said Miguel Flores. “Now I know why at 73-years-old he never talks about retiring. I get it — this is why he doesn’t retire. You guys are the reason he doesn’t retire.”
“The Custodian of the Year contest celebrates the many ways custodians make a difference in our schools,” said Jillian Bauer, Cintas Marketing Manager. “It’s clear from Aristeo’s win and the support that he’s received from day-one of this contest, that he is not only loved by his school, but by the community as well.”
“Aristeo represents the best-of-the-best with his attitude, spirit, and commitment to maintaining a healthy school for each and every student,” said Michael Halak, President, Rubbermaid Commercial Products. “We’re honored to recognize him today for his achievements and hope to bring a smile to his face like he’s done for so many others throughout the last 17 years.”
Flores will receive a $5,000 cash prize and his school will also receive $5,000 in products and services from Cintas and Rubbermaid Commercial Products. Nine contest runners-up will be awarded a $500 cash prize. They will also receive a $1,300 prize package from Rubbermaid consisting of cleaning tools and products.