Mr Cleaner, Mr Crest and even Santa… these are the names that Nelson CrestClean franchisee Karl Parker goes by when he’s cleaning at Appleby School.
As far as staff and pupils are concerned, he is part of the furniture — but the kids in Whakatu class were especially pleased to see him when he turned up at the end of term armed with a stack of pizzas.
The Year 3 and 4 pupils were treated to the pizzas after winning a CrestClean Cleanest Classroom Award for having the best-kept classroom at the school during Term 1.
The Cleanest Classroom programme is run at many of the over 450 primary and intermediate schools that are cleaned by CrestClean franchisees, with the classrooms that are kept the cleanest in the school awarded a certificate and a prize at the end of the term.
“They had an outstandingly clean classroom. I barely had to vacuum it at times. At the end of the day the kids would pick up little spots of dirt — they were really into it,” says Karl, who has been cleaning at the school for the past year.
“I’m one of those guys who gets a bit of a smile when he gives something away. It was a good feeling seeing the all the kids laughing and happy.”
Before they tucked into the pizzas, Karl had a chat with the class about why they won the award and what it means to look after your own space.
He says when cleaning a school, it’s important for franchisees to build a rapport with teachers and pupils.
“They’re a really good bunch here. I get invited to their teacher meetings once a week and I’m not scared of searching for errors. I quite often go to the meetings and ask if they’re happy with what’s being cleaned around the school. I’d rather know if I’m missing something, so I can fix it.”
For Karl it is more than a just a job — and he has become a bit of a local celebrity with the kids who always hail out when they see him, both inside and outside the school gates.
“I’ll be walking down town and I’ll hear someone knocking on a window or tooting and I’ll turn see a kid waving. If you’re lucky enough to get a small country school, it’s great because you really get to build that rapport.”
Principal Justin Neal says Karl is a “well recognised figure” and part of the school whanau.
“He’s really great at trying to encourage the kids to do their thing and they recognise who he is, which is kind of cool considering he only works after school. He’s very positive and we really rate him, he’s a great guy,” says Justin.
He praised the Cleanest Classroom programme, saying it encouraged kids to “take responsibility for their own spaces”. “I think it’s really important that the kids don’t just rely on all the services around them, that they actually do a bit themselves. It encourages them to take some responsibility because at the end of the day that makes everyone’s job easier. So, it’s not just cleaning, it’s education