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School janitor in Nebraska’s Weeping Water gets a national spotlight — and prize

Gov. Cuomo directs New York State schools to remain closed through end of academic year
Posted at 10:38 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 23:38:03-04

A school janitor in Weeping Water, Nebraska, has been selected as a finalist in a national “Custodians Are Key” contest that will gift a $15,000 grand prize to the champion and their respective K-12 school.

Already, though, Laurie Yard is a winner. She rose to the top three of nearly 1,000 people nominated for the competition that rewards work that custodians do in schools across North America, according to a news release from the company sponsoring the contest.

Yard, who hails from a Nebraska town of about 1,100 people, and the other two finalists, from California and Florida, will get a $500 gift card and the chance to claim the grand prize package. The No. 1 winner is to be announced in May and will walk away with a prize valued at $5,000. The winner’s school is to reap $10,000.

The contest is sponsored by Tennant Company of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions to reinvent how the world cleans.

“Custodians play a vital role in our communities and our third ‘Custodians Are Key’ campaign has shown us just how important each custodian is to their community, school, students and staff,” said marketing manager Amanda Herbert.

Yard maintains the single K-12 public school building in Weeping Water.

The news release says that she has made an “incredible impact” on students, faculty and the community over the past 14 years. She is known for greeting everyone with a smile and a compliment each day and for creating relationships that last a lifetime. Students remain in contact with Yard long after graduation, and many call her “Grandma” because she listens and offers kind words and advice, the release states.

Several years ago, Yard initiated a program for second-graders known as “The Good Citizen Award,” where she rewards the standout citizen with a piece of candy.

John Yard, her husband and the maintenance director for Weeping Water Public School, nominated her for the contest. He said in the nomination: “Laurie is so much more than just a custodian at Weeping Water School.”

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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