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Tennant Company, a leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions in the cleaning industry, has announced the grand prize winner chosen in the company’s third annual Custodians Are Key contest. The 8-month recognition program rewards the great work K-12 custodians are doing in schools across North America. One grand prize winner is awarded a $15,000 prize package which includes a $5,000 prize for the winner and $10,000 for their school.

Gladys Hernandez at Blue Valley CAPS in Overland, Kansas will be awarded the grand prize during a surprise celebration on May 17 at the school. Hernandez was one of 12 finalists chosen from nearly one thousand nominations from around the United States and Canada. This year’s contest launched on Sept. 15, 2021, with nominations closing Nov. 15, 2022. Finalists were announced throughout the year, with the grand prize winner selected in May.

“We launched the Custodians Are Key initiative three years ago to celebrate the unsung heroes who make our schools better, going above and beyond their daily duties and showing students and staff they care. We had no idea that a global pandemic would make the jobs they do even more critical to the health and safety of the teachers and students they serve. It’s our honor to celebrate heroes like Gladys Hernandez and her fellow nominees. Their work has never been more important and we are grateful for their dedication,” says Dave Huml, CEO, Tennant Company.

Hernandez was nominated by Blue Valley CAPS’ Foundations of Medicine Instructor Laura Benscheidt who pointed to Hernandez’s encouraging words for teachers and students and her willingness to give her time to help students as just a few of the many reasons she deserved the award.

“Gladys cares, she wants to provide a building for staff and students to learn in. She greets students and staff at the door with a smile and an encouraging word every day. She is often seen checking in with teachers to meet their daily needs,” said Laura Benscheidt. ”Gladys takes pride in knowing that the foundation of her work makes a difference in the ability of the students to learn and the teachers to teach.”

Blue Valley CAPS director, Chad Ralston, said he already knew Gladys Hernandez was an award-winning team member but is thrilled she received this honor making it official.

“Gladys not only makes our school shine, but her enthusiasm for our teachers and students makes them shine too. She goes above and beyond her custodial duties every day; she is often the first to arrive and the last leave and anticipates the needs of teachers and students. Her compassion and dedication to helping students learn by sharing her real-life experiences really sets her apart. We’re excited that her colleagues and Tennant have recognized her commitment to Blue Valley CAPS,” says Ralston. Ralston will collaborate with Hernandez to determine how best to spend the $10,000 prize.

Get Ready for Custodians Are Key 2023

Tennant remains committed to honoring the best and most deserving school custodians who make their schools better, go above and beyond their daily jobs, and show students and staff they care.

The fourth annual Custodians Are Key contest will kick off in September 2022. Visit to learn more about Tennant Company’s Custodians Are Key and the nomination process.