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OAES Custodian Finalist for Custodian of Year

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OAES Custodian Finalist for Custodian of Year
Posted on 03/16/2021
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Donna Colello, the hardworking, dedicated head custodian at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, is one of the top 10 finalists nationwide in the annual Custodian of the Year contest run by the Cintas Corp. The Portland Public Schools community is now invited to vote online for Colello to put her over the top and become the Cintas 2021 Custodian of the Year.

Colello is the only finalist from the Northeast and one of only two women in the top 10. From now through April 16, community members are encouraged to vote for Colello at https://www.custodianoftheyear.com/custodian-of-the-year/ Each person can vote once per day.

This is the eighth annual Custodian of the Year contest for Cintas, an Ohio-based company that provides specialized products and services to businesses. The top vote getter will become the winner and receive a $10,000 cash prize, along with $5,000 in products and services for his or her school from Cintas and Rubbermaid Commercial Products. The winner’s school will also receive a comprehensive training and development package from ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, valued at $20,000. The school also will gain enrollment in the GBAC Fundamentals Online Course that teaches cleaning professionals to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazards in the workplace, from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a Division of ISSA.

In nominating Colello for the contest, OAES Principal Beverly Stevens described her as outstanding. “Miss Donna works tirelessly every day and always brings a smile to all students and staff,” Stevens wrote. “What started as a job 25 years ago to support herself and newborn child, then flourished into a dedicated and fulfilling career where she goes out of her way to help students build up their self-confidence and help those in need. She's meticulous in her level of higher cleaning techniques and standards, and takes great pride and care in the work she and her team accomplishes. Donna is an integral part of the Ocean Avenue Elementary community and is the one that both staff and students rely on the most.”

Stevens praised Colello’s impressive work ethic. “Donna is always one-step ahead, knowing not only what to do next, but what is coming up over the next few months. For two years in a row, 100% of the teaching staff rated the building clean and orderly on the climate survey,” Stevens wrote. “She does side-by-side training on best practices for cleaning the school and keeping our equipment maintained. She is passionate about her team and keeping our building healthy, secure, and looking top-notch. Donna is thoughtful, kind, and puts students, staff, and safety at the core of her work. She is an ethical compass, and leads by example. Donna has created and maintained lasting connections to everyone in the Portland Public Schools and city community, including parents and neighborhood groups. Donna's mantra is: ‘We're doing it for the kids.’”

“Donna Colello is one of the most respected, hardworking custodians in the district. We are so grateful to Donna for her dedicated service to our students and staff,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “She goes above and beyond at Ocean Avenue School and she also is a leader in the district.  This past summer, she volunteered to serve on the district's custodial ‘Tiger Team,’ working to figure out how to best keep our school buildings safe during the pandemic. In our eyes, Donna already is a winner, but I encourage the Portland Public Schools community to vote for her to come out on top in this national contest and receive the recognition of which she is so worthy.” 

Cintas Marketing Manager Christiny Betsch said in a statement: “With over 2,000 deserving nominations, it was difficult choosing only 10 finalists. This contest shows us that custodians are much more than cleaners. They’re true role models who go above and beyond to have a positive impact on students, faculty, teachers and communities across the U.S.”

The nine other finalists are Christopher Bowman (Ohio); Bobbi Sue Burbey (Wisconsin); Robert Buster (Colorado); Francesco Catalano (Illinois); Charles Harris (Georgia); Mike Heiry (Pennsylvania); Edward Straub (South Carolina); Terry Tackett (Kentucky); and John Wheeler (Florida).

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.