Tennant Company announced the second round of finalists in its fourth annual Keepers Are Key program, an eight-month recognition campaign that recognizes the fine work K-12 keepers are doing in schools across the country and honors them and their school with a $15,000 prize package. The three finalists were chosen from a field of nearly 1,400 nominations from the United States and Canada.
The second group of three finalists is Cristhian Cardona of Abraham Mallinson Elementary School in Sugar Creek, Missouri; Angela Russell of The Benedictine School in Ridgely, Maryland; and Matthew Tanel of St. Edmund Campion School in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Each finalist receives a $500 gift card and a chance to win the grand prize.
“With this second round of finalists, we have been particularly touched by both the nominees and the nominees,” says Amanda Herbert, senior marketing manager at Tennant Company. “This year we have seen a lot of applications from within the schools, the people working side by side every day. To us, this not only shows the pride they have in their school, but also demonstrates the mutual care shared by everyone within the school community. We are humbled by the kindness, candor and willingness of the nominees to share these incredible stories.”
The finalists represent the best of the best in the United States and Canada
• Christian Cardona was nominated by Rebecca Cornish, library media specialist at Abraham Mallinson Elementary School. Cardona is not only an efficient and dedicated caretaker with a strong work ethic, but he is also a key member of the Abraham Mallinson community. Supports Spanish-speaking families to ensure proper communication with all stakeholders, connects with students and even plays guitar for them, and assists in the cafeteria on a regular basis, helping to prepare and serve food and sanitize trays between periods of lunch. Cardona is also the first to volunteer to help other schools in the district when they need more support. Finally, he continues to work towards his personal and professional goals, earning a master’s degree in photography and training for a marathon.
• Angela Russell was appointed by Julie Hickey, director of education and principal of The Benedictine School, a residential school for students with significant disabilities. Russell manages both the school and the student residential suites, showing care, compassion and patience for the students. He does this while he leads an understaffed custodial team, working all hours of the day and night to keep the school clean, while also dealing with special requests that frequently occur due to the unique nature of the school. In addition to her role as supervisor of the housekeeping staff, Russell also serves as a job coach supporting the school’s adult program for individuals over the age of 21 with developmental disabilities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Russell joined the school’s Leadership Response Team, helping develop policies, protocols and training for a Culture of Clean initiative to help keep students and staff healthy and fit. Safe.
• Matthew Tanel it was nominated by St. Edmund Campion eighth grade teacher Darren Pankhurst. Tanel operates with a simple question: “What is to be done?” So he jumps in and supports the school as he can. In addition to his custodial duties, Tanel constantly assists with the bus service: he is there every day to help teachers prepare students, get younger students on the bus, and interact with students. He also helps with eighth grade graduation activities: setting up chairs, decorating, and preparing graduation envelopes. He’s also been known to leave treats on teachers’ desks before they come in for the day. Pankhurst believes that St. Edmund Campion would be left with a major vacuum in school spirit were it not for Tanel and that general morale would take a severe hit. Tanel may only be in his third year at the school, but he’s left a lasting impact.
Keepers are a key timeline
This year’s program began with a call for applications on 13 September 2022. Applications closed on 15 November 2022 and a total of 12 finalists will be selected. Six finalists have been announced so far. The campaign will conclude at the end of May 2023, when a single grand prize winner will be announced.
Earlier this year, Tennant announced Fabian Emery of Keith & Karen Hayes Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada; Judy Preete of Indus School in Indus, Alberta, Canada; and Keith Venable of Shallowater ISD in Ransom Canyon, Texas as the top three finalists in this year’s campaign.
The grand prize winner will receive a prize worth $5,000, with their school receiving $10,000. Last year’s winner was Gladys Hernandez of Blue Valley CAPS in Overland Park, Kansas.
Tennant will announce the remaining six finalists later in the school year. Visit tennantco.com/custodian to learn more about the program Custodians are the core of Tennant Company.
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