Ron Crowley has been keeping Buddy Taylor Middle School clean and safe for 27 years.
Ron Crowley thought Jan. 26 would be just another workday at Buddy Taylor Middle School. He had no idea that it was, essentially, Ron Crowley day.
Crowley was stunned to see his family waiting for him in the cafeteria. Students, administrators, school district officials and David Thompson, the director of the Academy of Cleaning Excellence, were also there to honor him as the winner of the organization's 2021 Rock Star Custodian award.
Crowley, the school's coordinator for custodial services, was blindsided. He had no idea he had won the national award until he entered the cafeteria.
A red carpet led to the stage, which was decorated with balloons and a "VIP" backdrop. The school band played as Crowley was ushered on stage. Students sitting at the cafeteria tables cheered.
“It means everything. It means hard work and dedication pays off in the end. It means you have to be humble and love your job. It means all things are possible, and I'm a witness.”
RON CROWLEY on receiving the Rock Star Custodian award
Principal Cara Cronk, district custodial director Ken Seybold, assistant superintendent Bobby Bossardet and a parade of teachers, administrators, students and Crowley's sister, who drove over from Tampa, all spoke on behalf of the man BTMS students and parents have known as Mr. Ron for the past 27 years.
“I'm proud to recognize Ron Crowley as the Rock Star Custodian of 2021,” Thompson announced.
Crowley and Donald Garner of Hickory Tree Elementary School in St. Cloud had been running neck and neck in the online voting for the award. Crowley said he checked the totals frequently. But the voting closed on Dec. 15, and he hadn't heard a word.
Nancy Anderson, Flagler Schools' custodial supervisor, told him the votes were not yet tabulated. In reality, the announcement and celebration was being planned. It was all hush-hush, Anderson told Crowley's family members.
“I told them it's a secret. Do not call the school. The school didn't even know,” Anderson said.
Four aunts, two cousins, a brother and a sister, showed up to surprise Crowley.
“I was extremely surprised,” said Crowley, who got choked up on stage as he thanked everyone.
For over a month, people had been asking him if he had won. He told them he had no idea, but he would get back to them.
“No one ever told me anything till this morning, so I never got back to them,” he said as he gathered with his family and friends after the assembly. “You guys got me good.”
When asked after the assembly what the award means to him, Crowley said, “It means everything. It means hard work and dedication pays off in the end. It means you have to be humble and love your job. It means all things are possible, and I'm a witness.”
“Ron's a great example of how impactful our non-instruction personnel are to this school district.”
KEN SEYBOLD, Flagler Schools' custodial services director
Student Sofia Fretterd said Crowley always has a smile on his face, always asks students, ‘How are you today?’ And he's always interested in their answers.
Seybold, who nominated Crowley for the award, said Crowley keeps the school clean and safe for students and staff, but does so much more.
“Ron's a great example of how impactful our non-instruction personnel are to this school district,” Seybold said. “He understands the importance of taking ownership of the school.”
Bossardet said when he was principal at BTMS, he put Crowley on the leadership team, because he is the eyes and ears of the school, knows which kids haven't slept or are hungry and builds relationships with administrators, teachers and staff.
Science teacher Larry Tanenbaum said, “There is nothing he can't do. They might as well call it Mr. Ron's school.”
Crowley's sister, Connie Gorniak, agreed.
“He loves his school,” she said. “This is his school. And he loves each and every one of you.”