Story by Sabra Jackson, Staff writer
Cecil Lovett, North Calloway Elementary custodian, was nominated as Janitor of the Year, an award sponsored by Cintas Corporation, and is now a top ten finalist.
Upon seeing an application for the award, Melinda Hendley, principal at North Calloway Elementary, sent it to faculty around the school, who then voted Lovett into the top ten in the nation.
Lovett is the only finalist from Kentucky. The rest of the candidates are from Florida, Maryland, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
According to the North Calloway Elementary website, the contest is open to janitors of educational facilities of all levels. This award is for those who serve behind the scenes and go unseen.
Lovett has been working at North Calloway Elementary for nine years. He originally came to work for two years, but stayed because of how friendly the teachers and staff are.
“We always say he’s kind of the heart of the school,” Hendley said. “He just has a servant spirit.”
He began working at a service station with his brothers when he was 11-years-old. Once he left the service business, he knew he couldn’t sit still and had to keep working.
Jack Rose, former administrator and the superintendent at the time of Lovett’s hiring, found Lovett the job at the school.
Hendley said the kids see Lovett as an educator and a role model. She said he is the first one in the building to prepare it for the day and he greets the students and staff with a smile on his face.
“Every person in the building counts and that is what is important to our kid’s education,” Hendley said.
“The kids will make your day,” Lovett said. “There ain’t [sic] no bad days.”
Lovett is thrilled to be getting the attention from everyone, especially from the students, and he said he greatly appreciates the votes from everyone.
Lovett has received $500 for making it into the top ten. He will receive an additional $5,000 for himself if he wins the award, along with $5,000 for the school to put toward supplies.
Voting is online on the Cintas website. You can vote as many times as you want. Voting closes April 15.