These days, the custodians that work hard to keep facilities clean and safe for their occupants are critical to public health. And while most schools across the U.S. have implemented online learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis, school custodians are still working harder than ever. With that in mind, please make sure to cast your vote in the 2020 Custodian of the Year contest hosted by Cintas Corporation. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, April 17. The nation’s top 10 finalists include a diverse group of gifted and committed school custodians.
“While many schools have shifted to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, custodians are still working hard to disinfect classrooms, cafeterias, hallways, and other high-touch surfaces,” said Sean Mulcahey, marketing manager, Cintas. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to honor these men and women who are going above and beyond to ensure students and staff return to a clean, school environment.”
Read about the top 10 finalists in the 2020 Custodian of the Year contest below, and then go vote!
Howell Beasley, Albertville Kindergarten and Pre-K, Albertville, AL: Mr. Howell’s job title may be Custodian, but to the 600 students at Albertville Kindergarten & Pre-K, he’s a superhero. Mr. Howell greets each class with a sincere and warm “Good Morning” and goes above and beyond to make students feel supported. When some children are having a tough day, Mr. Howell makes them “his buddy” and enlists their help with picking up trash around the school to distract them from their troubles. If someone is in need in the school or community, Mr. Howell saves the day by helping to ensure they feel special and have everything they need. He even takes time out of his day to escort a student with blindness up and down the busy hallways to assure she makes it to class safely. His unwavering dedication and pride in his work constantly touches the lives of every person at Albertville Kindergarten & Pre-K.
Tarelle Campbell, Beverly Hills STEM Elementary, Concord, NC: At Beverly Hills STEM Elementary, Ms. Tarelle is considered a kind-hearted saint who is full of light, love and compassion. From thoroughly cleaning each area of the building to checking up on students to make sure they’re on track and following directions during classes, Ms. Tarelle exceeds expectations to provide a welcoming and safe environment for students each day. For many students and staff, Ms. Tarelle is a role model and offers her heart to anyone in need. Each morning before school, Ms. Tarelle braids the hair of a young girl to ensure she’s feeling her best for the day. The bright and cheerful Ms. Tarelle completes her job with enthusiasm and grace. She loves and is loved by each and every Beverly Hills STEM Elementary student and staff member.
Bron Clayton, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX: As one of the most diligent and hardworking members of the University of Texas at Dallas, Bron Clayton tackles any event or task thrown at him to make sure all custodial needs are handled. After working at the University of Texas at Dallas for 31 years, Bron has become a fixture on campus and continuously strives for excellence. From starting recycling programs on campus and providing ESL classes for his staff to offering blood borne pathogen training and ordering 50,000 small hand sanitizer bottles for each student on campus, Bron goes above and beyond all expectations to make the campus a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable environment.
Gregory Fisher, Barack Obama Charter Schools, Los Angeles, CA: There is no task that is too big for Mr. Fisher. As the only day custodian, Mr. Fisher works tirelessly to keep Barack Obama Charter Schools clean and builds indispensable relationships with families, students, and staff. Mr. Fisher finds it imperative to make the school a special and safe place for students to gather after losing his own two-year-old son to gang violence. Whether he’s performing crossing guard duties to guarantee students’ safe entry or watching over early drop-off students until the morning team arrives, Mr. Fisher knows the importance of caring for each and every student and staff member. Even as he battles his own personal health issues, Mr. Fisher will always complete tasks in a timely manner for the students and staff at Barack Obama Charter Schools.
Niyaz Gasanov, Gateway Science Academy St. Louis Middle & High School, St. Louis, MO: With more than 700 students, staff and faculty members, Gateway Science Academy St. Louis Middle & High School requires someone who can consistently keep the building in pristine condition. Luckily for Gateway Science Academy St. Louis Middle & High School, Mr. Niyaz is a one-man show who is reliable, courteous, friendly, and hardworking. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand even when he has a great deal of work to do. When the student council needed a giant wooden arch last minute for homecoming, Mr. Niyaz immediately ran to Home Depot to make the students’ dream a reality. With a smile on his face, he’s always there to complete tasks to better Gateway Science Academy St. Louis Middle & High School.
Cindy Hain, Pennwood Middle School, Yardley, PA: Cindy is known for putting a sprinkle of her own personal touches throughout the school. You can tell where Cindy has been not only because the halls sparkle and shine but because there’s a path of love with all arrows pointing back to her. Cindy helped create a food and clothing pantry within the school so struggling students can gain access to resources they may not have otherwise. In addition to creating a judgment-free, nurturing environment, Cindy pulled resources from family and friends to design a fully functioning kitchen for students with autism. Her kindness and compassion resonate deeply with the students, staff and she has become a beacon of Pennwood Middle School.
Dossie Langford, West Elementary School, Wamego, KS: Whether she’s completing her assigned duties or performing additional minor maintenance, Ms. Dossie goes the extra mile to make West Elementary School a warm and inviting place for students. When she’s not keeping the building in pristine condition, she’s updating the school bulletin board with local news clippings of students to demonstrate their successes or putting together furniture and other equipment ordered by the staff. During cold and flu season, Ms. Dossie spends extra time sanitizing high-traffic areas to prevent germs from spreading while promoting a healthy and safe environment. No matter what life throws her direction, she always faces her work with a can-do attitude and commitment to excellence in all aspects of her work.
Wallace Manns, Desert Christian Academy, Bermuda Dunes, CA: Known as one of the friendliest faces on campus, Mr. Wallace lights up the room with his cheerful, upbeat and positive attitude every day. No matter the task, Mr. Wallace always jumps at the chance to keep the school looking its best. After overcoming many struggles in his own personal life, Mr. Wallace seeks to find a way to offer words of encouragement to all students and is an integral part of the Desert Christian Academy family. From cleaning up after sick students (known as Code 22s at DCA) to arriving at 3 a.m. to clean PE lockers, school bathrooms and more, Wallace completes his duty with pride and a friendly smile.
Elia Ramirez, North Verdemont Elementary School, San Bernardino, CA: Embodying the role model title, Ms. Elia of North Verdemont Elementary School has been instrumental in winning numerous “Sparkling Success” awards for the school. She considers the school her home and treats it as such with her hard work and dedication. Hispanic students make up 53% of the school’s population and as an immigrant from Mexico herself, the students view Ms. Elia as a positive example of what hard work can achieve. She is kind, helpful and always completes duties that are beyond her job description with a beaming smile on her face. Despite all of the hardships she’s faced – including the sudden loss of her husband that forced her to raise her children on her own – Ms. Elia never waivers in her job performance. She rises above all to support North Verdemont Elementary School, the students, which include her grandchildren, and the community.
Benjamin Zimmerman, De Pere High School, De Pere, WI: Some days Mr. Ben is brightening the hallways with his infectious smile and offering freshly baked sweet treats. Other days he arrives at De Pere High School at 3 a.m. to blow up to 30 inches of snow off of the sagging roof. Either way, Mr. Ben is getting the job done with a positive attitude and a smile, even if it means working sometimes 80 hours per week. Aside from his daily cleaning and repair duties, Mr. Ben works tirelessly to take time out of his day to make sure students, staff and faculty feel important and does his best to learn nearly all 1,400 students’ names. To the students and staff, Ben is an irreplaceable member of the De Pere High School family.
The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize along with $5,000 in products and services for his or her school from Cintas and Rubbermaid Commercial Products. The winner’s school will also receive a comprehensive training and development package from ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, valued at $20,000. A cash prize of $1,000 each and free tuition to one ISSA Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) training event, valued at $1,500, will be awarded to the remaining nine finalists.
Click here to read about last year’s Custodian of the Year winner.