Custodians Are Key Contest Winner Revealed
Tennant Company announced the grand prize winner in its fourth annual Custodians Are Key program. This eight-month-long recognition campaign rewards the great work custodians are doing in K-12 schools and honors the winning custodian and their school with a $15,000 prize package. This year’s finalists were chosen from a field of nearly 1,400 nominations from around the U.S. and Canada.
This year’s winner is Fabian Emery of Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Emery receives a prize valued at $5,000, while Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary School receives $10,000.
“We were so impressed with this year’s nominees,” says Dave Huml, Tennant Company CEO. “Nomination after nomination detailed the many ways these custodians are making a real difference in their schools and in their communities. It’s clear that school custodians are keeping their schools beautifully clean and are an integral part of their school community. Our congratulations to Fabian as one of the thousands of superheroes in our schools, and we at Tennant are honored to celebrate and reward that.”
Emery was nominated by Michelle Thom, assistant principal of Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary School. Thom shares that Emery has an “all-in” mentality, going above and beyond to help in any situation with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.
“At Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary School we are the Home of the Heroes, and our custodian, Fabian Emery, exemplifies this daily,” says Thom in her nomination. “He is one of the hardest working individuals that I know and often goes above and beyond to help in any situation. Mr. Fabian will find a way to get it done.”
Emery has been known to take extra time to assist with family events at the school, visit with students and their families, and come in during the weekend when there are additional projects that can’t be done during the school day. Recently, Emery began an incentive program for students, handing out “Hero Grams” at lunch to students who help others, earn respect, remember safety, and own their behavior and education.
“All the students are lined up to be the custodian helper for the day,” says Thom.
Outside of the school, Emery volunteers his time with a flag football team, instilling in his fourth and fifth grade players the importance of respectful behavior and a good work ethic.
A surprise celebration with students, staff, treats, banners, and a giant $10,000 check was planned at Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary on May 17, where Emery learned he was the winner of the Custodians are Key contest.
“I was totally surprised that I won the contest and by the celebration thrown for me today,” says Emery. “The kids and staff are why I love working at the school. I have a great support team here!”
Custodians Are Key Timeline
This year’s program began with a call for nominations on Sept. 13, 2022. Nominations closed Nov. 15, 2022, and a total of 12 finalists were selected.
Other finalists in this year’s contest were: Judy Preete of Indus School in Indus, Alberta, Canada; Keith Venable of Shallowater ISD in Ransom Canyon, Texas; Cristhian Cardona of Abraham Mallinson Elementary School in Sugar Creek, Missouri; Angela Russell of The Benedictine School in Ridgely, Maryland; Matthew Tanel of St. Edmund Campion School in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; Andrea Wallin of Northview Intermediate School in Kodak, Tennessee; Eric Cardinal of Pleasant Street School in Laconia, New Hampshire; Rich Kinstetter of Kewaunee High School in Kewaunee, Wisconsin; Doreen Merritt of Elms Elementary School in Jackson, New Jersey; Kenny Wilson of Avalon Middle School in Milton, Florida; and Daniel Arredondo of Amistad High School in Indio, California. Each finalist received a $500 gift card and a chance to win the grand prize.
Emery joins three previous winners of the Custodians Are Key campaign: Kris Kantor of Hayes Elementary in Lakewood, Ohio; Alonzo Henley of Brownsville Middle School in Miami, Florida; and Gladys Hernandez of Blue Valley CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) in Overland Park, Kansas. Read up on last year's winner here.