Sustainability Spotlight: Committed Custodians at LPS

This month’s Sustainability Spotlight is shining on some of the district’s standout custodial staff!

LPS custodial teams are an integral part of managing waste programs and supporting sustainability efforts across the district, and these custodians have really gone above and beyond this school year.

Tom Kramer & Edelma Blanco Marroquin, Standing Bear High School

Standing Bear High School opened in August of 2023 with over 20 years of experience in their custodial leadership team. Tom Kramer and Edelma Blanco Marroquin have used their years of knowledge to help school-wide composting across the building succeed.

Kramer said that part of his role as building supervisor is to spend time coaching students and staff through the sorting process when questions arise. “If you’re able to make it a teaching moment, that really helps,” he said.

Assistant custodial supervisor Blanco Marroquin said that she especially enjoys opportunities to learn something new and pass it on to others in the building. One such learning experience came from exploring styrofoam recycling before the building opened.

Teacher workstations, in particular, were packed with a lot of styrofoam padding, so Kramer and Blanco Marroquin worked with LPS Sustainability to coordinate collection and transportation to recycle this unique type of waste. 

Kramer said the styrofoam packaging easily filled two to three garbage bags per workstation. With dozens of these desks throughout the school, the Standing Bear custodial team helped keep a huge amount of styrofoam out of our landfills.

Todd Engle, Lincoln High School

Lincoln High School building supervisor Todd Engle has spent 15 years as part of Lincoln Public Schools’ custodial staff. When Engle and his team noticed the number of waste containers per classroom growing at Lincoln High, he decided it was time to take action.

“Some of the rooms had four or five cans in them,” Engle said, so he reached out to LPS Sustainability and LHS principal Mark Larson to plan for a waste container reset.

Ahead of the reset, Engle presented the plan to the school’s department heads so everyone knew what to expect. The Sustainability team visited LHS over winter break to assist with the reset and labeled, relocated, and sometimes removed bins from each room in the building. 

“The key to doing this successfully is to make sure everybody knows about it before it happens”

Following the reset, waste containers are in a consistent location in every room, which Engle said streamlines the waste collection process for his team. Fewer bins also means a cost savings on plastic liners and an improvement in waste sorting accuracy. “If [students] have the choice of cans, they’ll make the right decisions,” Engle said.

Nozad Ali Jan, Everett Elementary School

Nozad Ali Jan has spent almost a decade as part of LPS’s custodial staff and currently serves as Everett Elementary School’s custodial supervisor. In addition to the building’s day-to-day waste management needs, Ali Jan manages the extra workload of maintaining a clean and safe learning environment in the midst of building-wide construction. 

The current Indoor Air Quality project means ventilation systems, windows, and other areas are being renovated and updated. Ali Jan said he and his team have taken this unique challenge in stride. “It can be a mess, but we are always on top of it,” he said.

Ali Jan said that splitting these additional responsibilities among his team helps them keep the building safe and clean for Everett students and staff while the renovations are happening. Despite the added challenges of supervising a building under construction, he is ready to jump in wherever his help is needed.

Ali Jan also said that his dedicated team and consistent level of pride in his work has garnered positive feedback from other building staff on his efficiency, even in the midst of this construction project.

Everett Building Supervisor Nozad Ali Jan

We are so grateful to have exceptional custodians like these in our district! Every one of them is dedicated to making things a little better for staff and students every day, and we couldn’t imagine LPS without them.