The noise in the Big Bend Elementary gym swelled as students chanted, "Andy, Andy, Andy." Building manager Andy Wegner shook his head as the image projected behind him announced he was in the top 10 out of more than 1,000 nominated across the country for the Cintas Janitor of the Year award.

Big Bend Principal Shawn Waller told students and staff Mr. Andy, as he is know at Big Bend, is in the running to receive $5,000 for himself and $5,000 in products and services for the school if he wins the contest. The Janitor of the Year is determined by popularity. The finalist receiving the most online votes wins.

"We're going to try and make that happen," said Waller.

Voting at tinyurl.com/j7lnmf4 is open through April 14 and people can vote as often as they like. The contest aims to "shine a spotlight on those who work behind the scenes year-round to make schools a clean, safe and positive place," according to the Cintas website.

Team player

Mukwonago Area School District Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Bryan Groshek found out about the contest and thought Wegner had the "whole package" the award is looking for, with his involvement in the community and for the Mukwonago Fire Department, where he is assistant chief.

Groshek explained Wegner "puts others before himself" and is "one of the biggest 'team' guys" he's ever met.

As energy manager for the department, Wegner travels to all the schools in the district to do energy audits, coming up with ideas to save energy and money. Wegner also uses Trane Energy Manager software to make sure HVAC schedules are set as tight as possible and are off on non-student days.

Additionally, Wegner is always looking at how things can be better, added Waller.

Wegner is "a great example of how a building and grounds employee can really impact the students," pointed out district construction manager Curt Wiebelhaus.

"It is really neat seeing how he interacts with students and staff at Big Bend" Wiebelhaus said. "Students go out of their way to talk to Andy and the staff shows a great respect for him."

High fives

Waller described Wegner as a positive, neutral person who is welcoming to students, makes connections with them and counsels them.

"He's that person in the hall that's always giving high fives," said Waller. "You're never going to see him in a bad mood. It's contagious throughout the building."

Wegner has fished phones out of toilets, changed flat tires, leads Fire Prevention Week, orchestrated a playground replacement and encourages a safe learning environment with his Cleanest Classroom of the Month award.

Big Bend staff nominated Wegner a couple of weeks ago for the Cintas award.

"He's very selfless, putting others in front of him," said Waller. "When you talk about going the extra mile, he definitely rises above."

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