The green cleaning movement is gaining momentum as schools and universities make decisions that are healthier for students, staff and the environment, and as states pass legislation to help guide these decisions. It’s imperative to find the leaders who will help grow the movement in their programs, institutions, communities and the industry as a whole.
Take, for example, the award-winning green cleaning program at the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) in Maryland. Within its custodial department, HCPSS has an exemplary training and leadership development program that is GS-42-certified. Olivia Claus, manager of custodial services at HCPSS and member of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council, has made it her personal mission to foster leadership skills, boost morale and elevate the vital role of her custodial team in her school district and greater community.
With Claus at the helm, HCPSS is hosting the Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute in Ellicott City, Md., July 28–29, 2016.
All school and university facility leaders making a difference in the health and performance of students are invited to Maryland with the Healthy Schools Campaign this July. The Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute is a unique opportunity for school facility directors to meet, share ideas and learn from other leaders in the field.
Attendees will hear firsthand from Claus and other visionary leaders of award-winning green cleaning programs on their insights into leading the movement to new heights. Additionally, attendees will tour HCPSS facilities, and participate in panels and workshops focused on cultivating leadership skills beyond the cleaning program—including the larger institution, community and field as a whole.
Leadership Development at HCPSS
Olivia Claus wants her custodians to understand how vital their roles are, and what a big difference they make in the lives of the children their work supports. “I tell all of my new hires that they are ambassadors of the school,” Claus says. “I say, ‘You are more than just a custodian. You are the key to that building’s health and success.’"
Claus sends all supervisors to leadership development classes at a local community college, provides a master class over the summer where team members come in for more training, and even offers a process for attracting high-potential employees. For Claus, green cleaning is intrinsically related to the training, education and care her employees receive. “People are the keys to success,” says Claus. “If they aren’t totally engaged and supported, then it will be a hard struggle to be world-class.”
This approach to management has led to reduced turnover rates, sure. But it’s also a fundamental key to a truly successful green cleaning program, one that galvanizes the entire school community around the fact that school custodians are protectors of public health. They are, after all, on the frontlines of health in an environment where young and vulnerable occupants spend the majority of their days. But all too often, school custodial operators aren’t recognized for the weight and importance of what they do. Green cleaning presents a unique opportunity for facility team members to galvanize the entire school community around a shared vision for a healthy campus. From there, the opportunity to lead and make a true difference grows.
Through a strong peer-to-peer network, we can change how our nation’s schools are cleaned, elevate the leadership role of school custodians and help protect student health and the environment.