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Central Elementary custodian rewards clean classrooms with new Golden Broom award

Ask any parent, guardian or teacher: convincing young kids to keep their space clean can be a challenge. But Michelle Williams, the evening custodian at Central Elementary School, believes she came up with a creative and fun solution: the Golden Broom award. 

Starting this school year, one lucky classroom at Central receives the award – a small broom spray-painted gold – along with a big tub of Redvine licorice, for being the cleanest in the school. 

“If I don’t have to pick up around their desk or tables, I don’t have to pick up personal belongings, I don’t have to clean graffiti off of the desk -- if they take care of their own stuff, that’s what I look for,” Williams said. 

The Golden Broom is a success so far, according to Central staff. In September, the combined second-grade classes of Jim Hively and Kacie Bundy earned the award. The teachers had nothing but praise for Williams’ idea, and said the Golden Broom gave their students extra motivation to keep their space clean. 

“It was super creative,” Bundy said. “I’ve never had a custodial staff member do this before, and I thought it was really fun to make it an award to work towards.” 

The students loved being recognized for cleanliness, Hively said. 

“I think the students were proud of their work, and they appreciated a concrete award for being responsible,” he said. “It was like, ‘Hey, somebody else noticed and appreciated the work we’ve done.’” 

Lisa Lockwood, whose fifth grade class at Central won the Golden Broom in October, said incentivizing cleanliness is smart. 

“She makes keeping the room clean fun,” she said of Williams. “It’s always easier to reward than it is to scold.” 

Williams said she’s already seen students keep their classrooms cleaner. Even a simple note from her left on a whiteboard, mentioning that students left things on the floor, will result in a tidier room the next day, she said. Not only does this teach students about personal responsibility, but the competition for the Golden Broom also makes Williams’ job a little easier. 

“I have the feeling that everybody’s pretty competitive around here, so it’s worked well for me!” she said with a laugh.