Monica Raines, executive administrative secretary to the Kentucky Department of Education’s deputy commissioner and chief equity officer, received the 2022 Teresa Perry Compassion Award during the Kentucky Board of Education’s June 8 meeting.
Raines has worked at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) since 2001, when she started as an administrative assistant. She became an administrative secretary in 2005, an administrative specialist III in 2014 and executive administrative secretary in 2019. In her current position, she works with the Office of Teaching and Learning’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Team, which is committed to fostering an inclusive learning environment where all Kentucky public school students receive equitable access and opportunities.
The award is given in honor of Teresa Perry, who served as executive secretary to the commissioner of education and worked for the state for more than 33 years. She was noted for providing outstanding customer service to those inside and outside the agency, always exhibiting compassion and providing positive inspiration for others. She died suddenly on June 9, 2020, at age 65.
Given each June, the award goes to a KDE employee who exhibits the characteristics and professionalism Perry showed every day. It was presented for the first time last year to Janice Harris.
KDE Chief Communications Officer Toni Konz Tatman said although Perry would say not to worry about honoring her, she would be “thrilled to know we are honoring other employees at Team KDE.”
In receiving the award, Raines expressed her gratitude.
“Thank you so much for this award,” she said. “Teresa was a good friend; she was a very good friend.”
In her nomination, Raines is said to share the same qualities as those of the award’s namesake.
“They are cut from the same cloth,” her nominator said, describing Raines as a “compassionate person.”
“Monica has been with the department for several years and I have watched her grow. She started off as a receptionist and quickly grasped the work of the department. She takes great pride in her work and always strives to do her very best. Over the years, she has displayed her loyalty to KDE and exhibited this loyalty through her work performance and passion for the work she does.
“If Monica does not know something, she will not stop and until she gets the answer or figures out a suitable solution. On many occasions, she will ask for advice and assistance if something is troubling her. She is reliable, and oftentimes works when no one knows it. She often forwards her work phone so that she can readily be available for staff (no matter the time of day or night) in her office to reach her.”
Her nominator said Raines also is a travel expert, mastering how to plan meetings and providing travel guidance to her staff and others in the department. She also often volunteers to work on special projects and helps out where needed in KDE.
Her work ethic and compassion in her job are just some of the attributes Raines exhibits.
“I could not ask for a better friend. … I can always depend on her to give me good, sound advice. She’s been a great co-worker – when I need to bounce off a work problem, she’s there,” her nominator said.
Her nominator said Raines takes care of her mother, explaining, “it takes a kind, compassionate and loving person to be able to balance a job and deal with the pressure that comes with taking care of an elderly parent. She never seems to get down on her circumstances.”
Being a caregiver is something shared by Raines and Perry .
“Teresa and I shared a bit of a bond,” Raines said. “Teresa took care of her mother and sometimes during work, she and I would sit down and have a few minutes of conversation about care, tips and sometimes just laugh about the funny things that happen as caregivers. This award means a lot to me and thank you so much.”
Her nominator also said Raines also does a lot in her community, sewing clothes and providing a role model for younger women she mentors outside of KDE.
Commissioner Jason E. Glass said there were 14 nominations for the award this year. He added that KDE is “incredibly proud” to have worked on the creation of the award with Teresa’s family, which includes her sister Dru Hawkins, who works for KDE in the Office of Finance and Operations, as well as her three children: Laura Avent, John Perry and Emily Ball.
Perry’s family attended the presentation and Raines will receive a glass vase – a tribute to Perry’s love of flowers.