Robin Kinney, Demetrus Liggins, Judy Edens and Jacqueline Coleman

Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney, Fayette County Superintendent Demetrus Liggins, KESSP Award winner Judy Edens and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. Photo by Crystal Sicard, Kentucky Department of Education, Feb. 9, 2024

(LEXINGTON, KY) – Judy Edens’ passion for service and community goes above and beyond her job title.

“Her care as a devoted mentor and leader to our staff and community members is exceptional,” said the principal of Breckinridge Elementary School (Fayette County), Michael Price.

Edens, also known as Mrs. Judy, is the lead custodian and has been a part of Breckinridge Elementary for the past 17 years.

On Feb. 9, she was honored with the 2023-2024 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional (KESSP) Award.

“I’m so thankful for my family and this school family. I just want to thank everyone,” said Edens.

The KESSP award was created in 2020 by Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman to recognize more than 46,000 classified school employees in Kentucky. Classified school employees serve in vital and often overlooked roles, from driving students to school to preparing their meals to working with partner agencies to ensure students’ vital needs are met.

“At the heart of every high-performing school is a person who cares and she is the model on how to build relationships to help kids grow and achieve,” said Price. “Mrs. Judy consistently creates a sense of belonging around a strength based approach that supports the success and needs of our entire school.”

No matter the project, initiative or activity involving Edens, Price said she always leaves a mark of kindness and compassion.

“From gathering school supplies for our students to organizing book drives promoting literacy at home, Mrs. Judy’s efforts ripple through our community, ensuring no child is left without the resources they need,” said Price.

Mrs. Judy is also known as someone who has served in numerous informal roles outside of her position, such as family and community liaison and family resource coordinator.

Collins Achie, a Fayette County Public Schools custodial and facilities manager, said that Mrs. Judy recognizes a need and then is committed to creating the best environment for students.  

“Judy is a hard worker, dependable and truly cares about the kids and staff,” said Collins. “She goes above and beyond for Fayette County Public Schools, making sure the building is clean and safe for everyone who enters Breckinridge, the district is blessed to have her.”

As a winner of the KESSP award, Edens’ name has been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) for consideration for the national 2024 Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award.

The RISE award, which recognizes classified school employees who have displayed excellence in serving students, was passed by Congress in 2019 and is overseen by the USED.

Not only does she leave an impact on students, but Price said she also makes a difference in the lives of the staff and educators within the district.

“She possesses an uncanny ability to uplift our staff, regularly offering building-wide encouragements like the cherished morning coffee bar when energy is low,” Price said. “Her excellence shines through in every facet of her job, as evidenced by her genuine relationships with students, families, staff and community.”