Last Round of Finalists Announced in National Custodian Campaign
INDIO — Daniel Arredondo, a beloved and highly respected custodian at Amistad High School, has made it to the fourth and final round of finalists in the fourth annual Custodians Are Key program, Tennant Company announced.
This eight-month long recognition campaign rewards the great work K-12 custodians are doing in schools around the country and honors them and their school with a $15,000 prize package.
“I am surprised,” an emotionally overwhelmed Arredondo told Uken Report. “I can’t believe I made it this far. There were a lot of other candidates.”
Yes, there were. This year’s finalists were chosen from a field of nearly 1,400 nominations from around the U.S. and Canada.
Richard Pimentel, principal at Amistad High School, nominated Arredondo for the honor. He has served Amistad High School for the past seven years. Before this, he held a similar position at Shadow Hills High School. His shift is from 6 a.m. to 2:30 pm., but he arrives around 5:30 a.m. “to get ready for the day.”
By the time Pimentel arrives at school at 6:30 a.m. each morning, Arredondo has opened the gates, taken out the trash, cleaned the office, prepared coffee for the secretary and raised the flags. He goes on to greet staff, students and parents with an affirmation and a smile.
“Because of the pride Arredondo instills in students and the care he takes to empower them,” Pimentel said in nominating him,” Amistad High School does not have trash lingering on the floor or tables after lunch—students take responsibility for themselves and throw all of their garbage away. Students go above and beyond for Arredondo because they know he goes above and beyond for them.”
Arredondo is a proactive leader on campus, according to Pimentel, mentoring students on what it means to be a person of honor, addressing violations with compassion—being polite with offending students and offering them the opportunity to rectify their actions, connecting with students and cheering them on at their athletic events and—of course—holding himself to high standards with his job duties.
According to Pimentel, Arredondo is not just a custodian, he is not an occasional security agent, he is not just a teacher of character—”he embodies what it means to care for students as human beings.”
The last three finalists are Arredondo; Doreen Merritt of Elms Elementary School in Jackson, N.J.; and Kenny Wilson of Avalon Middle School in Milton, Fla. Each received a $500 gift card and a chance to win the grand prize. The winner will be announced next month.
Arredondo, 42 and the father of three, used is gift card to take his wife to her favorite restaurant, Rincón Norteño in Indio, for dinner.
Public Information Officer Mary Perry said Amistad High School has “the cleanest campus you’ve ever seen. The kids don’t leave trash after lunch. They absolutely pick up the lunch area and that’s credit to him. They respect him.”
“We thought we had already seen all the best humanity had to offer in our first nine finalists this year,” says Amanda Herbert, senior marketing manager of Tennant Company. “These last three finalists confirm what we’ve only scratched the surface. Our schools’ custodians are empathetic, selfless leaders who care deeply about their work and the communities they serve. We have a significant challenge ahead of us as we select only one grand prize winner from this impressive group of 12.”
Finalists Represent the Best of the Best in the U.S. and Canada.
This year’s program began with a call for nominations on Sept. 13, 2022. Nominations closed Nov. 15, 2022, and a total of 12 finalists have been selected. The campaign concludes in late May 2023, when a single grand prize winner will be announced.
The grand prize winner will receive a prize valued at $5,000, while his or her school receives $10,000. Last year’s winner was Gladys Hernandez of Blue Valley CAPS in Overland Park, Kansas.
What will Arrendondo do with the $5,000 prize if he wins? “I don’t know, probably take her out again.”
Tennant will announce a winner in May. Visit tennantco.com/custodian to learn more about Tennant Company’s Custodians Are Key program.
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