Janitor cleaning the school campus illustration

Tennant Company announced the first round of winning finalists chosen in its inaugural Custodians Are Key contest. The 8-month recognition program rewards the great work K-12 school custodians are doing in schools around the United States and honors them and their school with a $15,000 prize package.             

The round one winners are:

- Natasha Fitzpatrick, Haines Borough School District, Haines, Alaska 

- Mark Cease, Powell County High School, Deer Lodge, Montana

- Mike Bieser, Plateau Valley School, Collbran, Colorado

Fitzpatrick has been with the Haines Borough School District for 11 years. An extremely hard worker, Fitzpatrick is said to treat the students like her own children. She volunteers for chaperone duty so students can compete in other cities, makes sure students are fed, have appropriate clothing, and that they are safe to travel to and from school when the weather turns nasty in Alaska. 

Cease has been with Powell County High School for 18 years. A cancer survivor who lost one of his arms to the disease 32 years ago, Cease is said to do more than a person with two arms. He volunteers to help wherever he can, whether in the cafeteria or making sure children have the necessities they need. He even makes custom office furniture to accommodate special requests.            

Bieser is a positive force at Plateau Valley School, making sure each child feels welcome and important. He helps children with special needs by removing barriers for them and helping them easily integrate with the rest of the student body. He also supplies necessities for students in need. 

“These three custodians were among dozens of extremely well-qualified nominees we received during the initial months of this campaign. It was challenging to make a choice of only three, ” says Lisa Kingsley, channel marketing manager, Tennant Company. “Each of these finalists makes a significant and positive difference in the lives of the students, staff and teachers they serve. Those who nominated them all agree that their school would be lost without them.”

The Custodians Are Key program launched Sept. 9 and concludes on May 6, 2020. The finalists receive a $500 gift card. By May 20, Tennant will select a grand prize winner from a group of 12 finalists. The winner receives a prize valued at $5,000 while his or her school receives $10,000.              

It is not too late to nominate a favorite custodian. Tennant is accepting nominations throughout the campaign at tennantco.com/custodian. The next three finalists will be chosen from all qualified submissions as part of round two, which closes Jan. 3, 2020. The winning finalists will be notified by Jan. 17, 2020.

Two more rounds of nominations are slated to be held.