Custodians from five schools across the country were recently recognized with the first-ever National C.L.E.A.N. ® (Custodial Leaders for Environmental Advocacy Nationwide) Award, a joint initiative of The Soap and Detergent Association, the National Education Association Health Information Network and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of this program is to recognize the contributions that custodians make to public health in their schools, communities and their profession.

The top recipient, Pat Nicholson, of Washington State's Brownsville Elementary School, earned a $5,000 cash award, cleaning products and a school celebration on National C.L.E.A.N. Day.

The four runners-up are Briana Rivera, Saks Elementary School, Anniston, Alabama; Rick Johnson, Emmons Elementary School, Mishawaka, Indiana; Felicia Palmer, Round Top Elementary School, Blythewood, South Carolina; and John Smith, Cindy Fisher and Angela Gusinger, Hanover-Horton Middle School/High School, Horton, Michigan.

"These professionals work every day to properly and safely use cleaning products that help keep our schools clean and healthy," said Nancy Bock, Vice President of Education at The Soap and Detergent Association. "Their passion and commitment to improving their school environment – for students, teachers and all of their colleagues – showcase how important they are to communities around the nation."

Applicants for the C.L.E.A.N. ® Award provided information about their worksite, cleaning responsibilities, how they have demonstrated leadership for school cleanliness achievements, evidence of collaboration and how their work has enhanced the image of the custodian. Applications were evaluated on originality, creativity, ability to sustain results, evidence of teamwork and program impact.

For additional information about the program and the award winners, visit