ORONO, Maine — Joe Mason, better known at Asa Adams Elementary as Mr. Joe, won 'Maine Custodian of the Year.'
That award is given by the Educational Plant Maintenance Association of Maine to one custodian who goes above and beyond to make sure the school's students are safe, doing well, and have a clean school to learn in.
Mason has been doing good work there for six years and keeping things fun for the students.
"I hide in our main hallway a little plastic ninja. It's yellow, it's about an inch high for the very fun reason that kids enjoy looking for the ninja, I change its location every week so that they are not always looking at the pipe right over there but they have other places to look! And that's become a staple for four years since hiding the ninja," Mason said.
"The impact can go beyond just cleaning stuff for them, but letting them know that there's an extra set of eyes looking out for them," Mason said.
Mason says this year the cleaning has been bumped up, even more, to make sure the school stays virus-free.
Mason reads to the students, teaches them gardening skills, plays with them, and makes sure they are feeling safe and happy.
Mason is also the Greenhouse Coordinator for the school and helps students to keep, water, and grow seeds in their own greenhouse.
"He’s worked with small groups of students in the past couple of years to do things like build bee boxes for Mason bees, start marigold seeds, and grow edible pea shoots," the Maine Department of Education said.
Mr. Joe will receive a plaque and a $300 college scholarship will be awarded in his name to a student.