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Custodian Appreciation Day

Easy, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate our Favorite Teammates

Although National Custodian Appreciation Day is typically held on October 2nd, many of you agree: everyday is a day to celebrate these awesome teammates!

I’ve long said to my colleagues that even though my title reads “principal”, don’t be fooled – custodians really run the school and have a huge impact on culture and student achievement. They were beyond instrumental in recent years for ensuring our schools were safe and clean for students and staff during the COVID pandemic.

Custodian Appreciation Day is just one day each year to shine a spotlight on their hard work, dedication, and their tremendous impact on our school. Therefore to make this day memorable for them and a true recognition by staff and students, here are some ideas. Of course, don’t save the recognitions for only October 2nd! These ideas for Custodian Appreciation Day are just as wonderful any day of the school year.

Appreciation from the Students

I’ve had the opportunity to hire several custodians and head custodians in my career. When making this tough decision of who to hire for our team, I always wonder: “How will they treat our students? How will students respond to them?” So I look for someone who is a role model, holds students to high standards, yet is approachable. A “kid magnet” is a plus.

(It's always a great hire when I have students serve on the hiring panel and they have an actual voice in the decision!)

Therefore it’s important for our students to celebrate our custodians for several reasons.

First, being a professional custodian is an honorable career. Many schools require their head custodians to be degree-holding, or at least to have experience as managers (which we all know is not "entry level" work.) Maintaining a facility like ours takes hard work, extensive knowledge, perseverance, and is not for the weak of heart. Second, the custodian is often the favorite employee at a school! They are constantly visible, helpful, and in many ways the “first responder” in emergencies at school. Students know them, love them, and enjoy celebrating them.

Finally, custodians love to receive the heartfelt “thank you's” from students. Like anyone who works at a school, we can go for very long stretches of working hard without much appreciation. Hearing "thanks" from students can offset the challenge of having to clean up one more stomped milk carton or seeing their clean space get tarnished in a day.

Above all, it’s important for students to celebrate all of our school community as professionals.

8 Meaningful Ways Students can Say "Thank You"

  • Handwritten notes and thank you cards

  • Large painted banners, hung in visible areas like the Commons or a busy hallway

  • Student volunteers to help with the day’s duties such as cleanup outside or lunch time help

  • A school assembly during which they’re recognized

  • Hallway celebrations (like a Senior Walk or Awards Tunnel)

  • Provide them with Spirit Gear

  • A special bulletin board, dedicated just for them

  • Virtual Thank You Cards

Appreciation from Staff

Custodians play a huge role in the success of a school. Like many of you, I’ve worked with those who are passionate, innovative, and have a ton of initiative! They bring energy and enthusiasm to every day, and their positivity is infectious.

Teachers, secretaries, and administrators alike rely so heavily on these can-do teammates ~ certainly it’s an honor to recognize them anytime!

Ways Your Staff Can Say Thank You on Custodian Appreciation Day

Consider these Custodian Appreciation Day Activities:

  • Staff-provided potluck or luncheon. We like to buy them takeout lunch from a local gourmet sandwich shop.

  • Signed Thank You cards

  • Share staff stories of appreciation. Have your teammates email you a few sentences about a time when a custodian made their day, went above and beyond, and how they’re appreciated. You can even use a Google Form to make this easier. Compile these for each custodian to appreciate!

  • Relieve them of a duty. Everyone needs a helping hand! Consider having each teacher clean their own whiteboard tonight, or have a small crew take out the classroom trash. Is there a job that the rest of the team can take for one day? Cleaning the lunchroom or sweeping the halls.

  • Staff Pool of Funds. When everyone chips in a few dollars for Custodian Appreciation Day, it’s amazing what you can buy! We’ve purchased huge freezer pizzas for the crew to take home, desserts from local gourmet stores, and gift baskets for self-care.

Showing Appreciation as the Principal

Appreciating my school custodians is a top priority for me everyday! Here are some ways the principal can say “thank you,” both on Custodian Appreciation Day and everyday!

  • Notice what they’re doing. Are they painting? Sanitizing doorknobs? Greeting kids each day? My custodians have shared that they feel like I see them and what they do ~ which means they appreciate being seen. Noticing is the first step!

  • Recognize them at a Staff Meeting. The first staff meeting of the year is a great time to celebrate their hard work over the summer, but any time will do! If their shifts are outside the scheduled staff meeting time, be sure to let them know they were recognized. Better yet - encourage your staff to thank them, next time they see them.

  • Highlight them in a Newsletter. Several times per year, my custodians are my Staff Highlight – both as a team and as individuals.

  • Random fun gifts. There are TONS of great ideas out there, and you can find many in these Principal Power Packs or on my Pinterest page. Bags of Swedish Fish and a message that You’re O-FISH-ALLY the best Custodians! Pack of Starburst with a message that “We’re BURSTING with gratitude for your hard work!” Lottery/scratch-off tickets (they're fun to custom make!) are another favorite.

  • Buy coffee or donuts. Better yet, know their favorite coffee drink and bring that on a Friday!

  • Recognize their birthdays with a card.

  • Give the Gift of Time. Make a cute certificate. Tell them you’ll stand in for them any 30 minutes of their choosing. You’ll even do the work!

  • Take them out to lunch.

Thank you, School Custodians!

To those hardworking and passionate custodians in your schools ~ THANK YOU! Today and every day is Custodian Appreciation Day. We see you, we appreciate you, and we couldn’t do this with out you! For more Staff Appreciation ideas including how to plan a year of appreciations, visit the Staff Morale page for other FREE ideas. Are you looking for a Calendar of ALL the staff appreciation days this year? Visit the Principal’s Calendar page here for resources.

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