2019 Janitor’s Dream Closet Contest Winner: North Carolina School for the Deaf

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Late last year, we launched our inaugural Janitor’s Dream Closet Contest. After combing through nearly 300 entries, we’re thrilled to announce that the winner of two new pieces of Nilfisk cleaning equipment is the North Carolina School for the Deaf (NCSD).

We talk to a lot of school custodians and facilities managers, and while they all know the positive impact that cleanliness has on learning outcomes, there isn’t always room in the budget for new cleaning equipment.

That’s why we came up with the idea of the Janitor’s Dream Closet Contest, to support the people and organizations that work so hard to educate the next generation. What we didn’t realize was how much some of the technology we spend so much time thinking about — like our  eco-friendly cleaning solutions — can help improve schools for students with unique needs.

Then we learned about North Carolina School for the Deaf.

For almost 125 years, NCSD has been a leader in Deaf education. Through its day and residential programs, the school provides PreK-12 students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today’s world. “When students come to this campus, they aren’t just coming for school, they’re coming to be part of a family,” said Sarena Fuller, NCSD’s Interim Director and Principal.

Like all schools, NCSD strives to provide a clean and productive learning environment. And, like all schools, NCSD has limited time and resources available for cleaning. But they also have an added challenge: their students and staff are highly sensitive to smells.

When one sense is lost, the brain often rewires itself so that other senses are heightened. Harsh chemical smells can be distracting for NCSD students, which is why the school has adopted a cleaning program that’s as green as possible. “Machines that use less chemicals and solutions to clean in our school are much less of an irritant,” Environmental Services Department Manager Edmund Long explained in his Janitor Dream Closet Contest application.

That was the kicker for Dave Chen, the Nilfisk Field Marketing Manager who devised the contest. “Everyone can appreciate the value of clean,” Chen said. “However, we saw a very unique need for the North Carolina School for the Deaf.”

On May 1, we held an award ceremony at the Morganton campus, where we presented NCSD with two new cleaning machines: a walk-behind floor scrubber that can clean and dry in one pass using little to no chemical detergent, and a touchless hard-surface cleaning machine that has an automatic chemical system to minimize detergent usage.

“The equipment that we received will make a big difference,” Long said. “We don’t have to use any chemicals at all, we can just use water. Another one of the machines will cut some of the cleaning time in half.”

Principal Fuller added: “We’re so excited to win this competition and have this influx of new equipment. I can’t say enough about what it’s going to do for our students. There’s an abundance of research that shows how much a good strong physical environment contributes to learning for students, and even more so when students have a sensory need.”

Because the contest was such a huge success, we’ll be running it again this fall. Stay tuned for updates and to learn how you can enter to win new cleaning equipment for your school!

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