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Sioux Trail custodian earns national school support employee award

Mark Glende, head custodian at Sioux Trail Elementary School in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, is one of five school support staff in the nation to receive the 2018 Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) award. Given annually by the National Coalition of Classified Educational Support Employee Unions, the RISE award is presented to staff members are doing extraordinary and inspirational work in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.

Glende was recognized for his proven track record of going above and beyond to make the school a safe, welcoming and enriching place for all the students. He has particularly focused on sustainability and conservation programs, both to help the school save money and as a learning opportunity for students.

“I'm very proud to win this award. I truly believe if we each leave things a little better than we find them, we can accomplish amazing things,” said Glende. “I am proud to be able to work every day to make that a reality for students in my community."

Some of the work he’s led includes creating a employee and student group to study the effects of energy conservation measures like turning off classroom lights and making sure blinds were down at the end of the day to conserve heat. Because of the group’s work along with support from the entire school, Sioux Trail Elementary became one of the first Minnesota schools to become an ENERGY STAR Leader Top Performer and in 2007 ranked as the second most energy efficient school in the Midwest.

Glende has also organized school-wide efforts and student groups focused on recycling and composting organic materials to cut down on what the school sends to the landfill. Over a couple of years, the school went from producing enough trash to fill a four-yard dumpster daily to only filing a one-yard dumpster weekly.

His leadership saw him appointed to and elected chairman of the city of Burnsville’s Environmental and Sustainability Task Force.

Other projects during his time at Sioux Trail have included painting a world map on the playground, painting numbers and fractions on steps to help younger students learn math, and even painting inspirational words on gym walls in his effort to turn “dead space” into “learning spaces.”

“Mr. Glende is a positive role for our staff, students, and community members,” said Sioux Trail Principal Shannon McParland. “He supports lifelong learning by showing students how to be future ready as global citizens within our world. He models making our world a better place by recycling, saving energy and reusing goods and products.”

Glende has worked in District 191 schools since 1996, nearly all of that time at Sioux Trail. He was honored by the district for his volunteerism with a John Coskran Volunteer Award in 2004.

“Mark is a classic example of school employees across Minnesota who go above and beyond every single day to make our schools safer and more enriching for our students,” said Keith Niemi, President of SEIU Local 284. “We are incredibly proud of Mark and the positive impact he is making on students, his school and the community. His whole SEIU Local 284 family are incredibly proud of this outstanding achievement.”

Learn more about the RISE Awards at

Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 12:14