Hayes Elementary School head custodian Kris Kantor has been selected from among more than 2,000 nominations from around the United States to receive the first Custodians Are Key grand prize for his dedication to his job and his school community. Kantor was awarded av$5,000 prize package while the school received $10,000. The Custodians Are Key contest is an 8-month recognition program that rewards the great work K-12 custodians are doing in schools around the country. It is sponsored by Tennant Company, which designs and manufactures cleaning solutions.
“We had so many amazing nominees for this contest, which made It challenging to whittle down to 12 finalists, much less identify a single person to win the grand prize. Kris Kantor’s clear devotion to students and staff is what gave him the edge.” said Lisa Hrpcek, Channel Marketing Manager for Tennant Company. “There’s never been a more important time to herald the important work these heroes like Kris and the other nominees undertake for our schools.”
Kantor, who was presented with his award at a ceremony at the school in front of staff members on June 26, said receiving this recognition was “very gratifying...it makes me feel like I’m really making a difference. This motivates me even more.”
Kantor was nominated last November by Hayes health aide Maureen Yantek, who described him as fastidious about organization and cleanliness. But it is Kantor’s attention to detail that elevates him, learning everyone’s name, including more than 300 students and staff. He created a program called “Kids with Kantor” where he works with students on special projects once a week during his lunch hour, building everyday objects like bird houses, decorative wooden boxes and toy helicopters while teaching kids about safety, tool use and teamwork.
“Kris lives by the motto that he has painted outside his office: ‘work smarter not harder.’ This enables him to get his regular job duties completed efficiently and effectively, which leaves him time to engage with others. What truly sets Kris apart is the respect and kindness he shows to all students, faculty, and staff,” said Yantek.
“We’ve always been proud to count Kris as one of our own. This acknowledgement of his great work is extremely deserved,” said Eric Fortuna, principal at Hayes Elementary. “We are lucky to have Kris on our team and look forward to celebrating him when school is back in session.”
Principal Fortuna said he will consult with Kantor on how best to spend the $10,000 prize money because he always has great ideas.