Sam Mills trains others on the advantages of green initiatives. Mervin Brewer

While daytime school custodians can often fly under the radar as students and faculty become engulfed in their own responsibilities, the contributions of Backman Elementary Head Custodian Sam Mills are anything but subtle for the Salt Lake City School District in Utah.

For Mills, the end of a workday isn't defined by a predetermined shift. Perceptive to the needs of the school, Mills dedicates as much time as needed to ensure tasks are correctly completed and his fellow custodians are appropriately trained and positioned for success. Starting with the district in March 2008, Mills has since been at the forefront of adopting more environmentally-friendly chemicals and cleaning tools.

As a member of both the employee's union executive board and the Utah School Custodial Managers Association, Mills gives presentations on best practices for protocols and inspections, takes ownership of innovative ideas and promotes leadership skills for custodians across the state.

"Sam has been instrumental in seeking out new green cleaning methods, as well as gaining an extensive knowledge of equipment and chemicals that carry a greener profile than most conventional products," says Mervin Brewer, assistant custodial supervisor at Salt Lake City School District.

A star amongst the custodial ranks, Mills exudes the same positive energy outside the school to make an impact on the community. As an avid sports fan with a passion for coaching, Mills organizes and runs an after-school intramural basketball league connecting students across different elementary schools within the district. He also coaches soccer for Backman Elementary, and helped guide the team to an intramural championship last fall.

To those who know him best, these unprompted efforts are simply a reflection of the leader Mills is in every aspect of his life. "Keep in mind that this is a Title 1 school. He does all of this on his own time," says Brewer. "Sam is always striving to master anything that he does. He's a rock star with the children and staff at the school."

Each month, this section will recognize an outstanding frontline janitor. To nominate a deserving employee, email