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It could be the combined 37 years of experience of the South Brunswick Middle School custodial department or perhaps just their desire to be the best that propelled the team to victory in the Saffelle Clean School Award contest. The team edged out the other 18 schools for the third-quarter victory, taking the award from co-winners Cedar Grove Middle and Lincoln Elementary, who both have impressive track records.
Supervisor Larry Smith expressed his pride in the SBMS team.
“They took ownership of the school and it shows. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they have done.”
Saffelle is the contractor for all custodial supplies used in Brunswick County Schools. The group conducts independent quarterly inspections as part of a quality assurance process, providing feedback to the departments on areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. They name a quarterly Clean School Award winner at the conclusion of these inspections. The traveling award includes a banner for the school, a $25 gift card for each custodial staff team member, and, of course, bragging rights.
Head custodian Kenneth Hardy has been leading the charge at SBMS for two years and believes the team just continues to get stronger. Quick to credit principal Brock Ahrens for fostering an environment of respect, he believes Ahrens has established expectations for students to help maintain their learning environment and as a result, students demonstrate more responsibility.
“Kids feel better when schools are clean and when they come into a clean environment,” Hardy said. “It sets the tone for learning and builds confidence in parents. If there is effort and pride taken to keep the school clean it means we are also taking care of your kids.”
Veteran team member Penny Whitlock feels teamwork and communication are other key reasons for receiving the quarterly recognition. Because every team member is assigned a specific area of the school to maintain, Whitlock says their team is quick to share ideas in order to increase efficiency. She also believes teachers play a very important role in the custodial team’s ability to maintain high standards, particularly when they encourage students to pick up items off the floor and monitor students during transitions and restroom breaks.
Team member Joel Tutson has another theory on what brought the award to SBMS: “We got tired of losing!” His competitive spirit is personal, as his wife is on the custodial team at Lincoln Elementary. He also shared this message for his colleagues in other schools: “We are planning to keep this for awhile.”