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Georgia Custodian Wins C.L.E.A.N. Award

Barry Crocker recognized as a leader in his field.


By Lance Fuller

Whether he's getting students fired up at pep rallies dressed as the school mascot, making sure the lunch room and classrooms are spotless and shining, or delivering food and clothing during the holidays, Barry Crocker is considered the superstar of Nicholson Elementary in Marietta, Georgia.

A custodian for more than 20 years, Crocker was recently awarded the 2011 C.L.E.A.N. Award in Washington, D.C., by the National Education Association.

Sponsored by NEA, the American Cleaning Institute, and the NEA Health Information Network, the National C.L.E.A.N. (Custodial Leaders for Environmental Advocacy Nationwide) Award recognizes custodians who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the field of school cleanliness and their contributions to public health in their schools, communities, and their profession.

“Winning this award was a complete surprise to me,” Crocker said at the podium of the Washington Hilton.

Crocker was nominated by his school’s principal and teacher colleagues without his knowledge, and the school later surprised him at an assembly with all students and staff to honor him when they learned he won the award.

Within Nicholson Elementary, Crocker is not only the head custodian and mascot, but is also the school’s in-house safety expert and first responder to any emergency. He is currently certified in CPR, First Aid, and is trained in Violent Crisis Intervention, fire safety, light search and rescue, disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, disaster psychology, and terrorism response. 

The Cobb County School District identifies Crocker as an innovator who researches, tests, and pilots new cleaning products and equipment and shares the results with his district. He also sits on the Cobb Community Emergency Response Team and is recruited by the school district to assist and retrain custodians in other schools.

“I hope the C.L.E.A.N. Award will continue to help all of us . . . appreciate the importance of having healthy and safe schools,” he said. “Our nations’ custodians should be letting everyone see that cleaning for health and not just appearance is important and does impact the students’ and staff’s performance.”