Graphic reading: Recognizing Inspirational School Employees, nomination deadline Oct. 10, 2022

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is accepting nominations of outstanding educational support staff for the national 2023 Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award.

The award, enacted by Congress in 2019 and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), recognizes classified school employees who have displayed excellence in serving students.

Classified employees serve in dozens of vital – and often overlooked – roles, from driving students to school, to preparing their meals, to working with partner agencies to ensure vital needs are met.

“Though their work might at times go unseen, our schools cannot run without these valuable employees who contribute to the overall quality of education and to our students’ success,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “It is important that we shine a light on the hard work and dedication of our staff who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of our students.”

“Every educational staff member contributes to the overall success of our schools and ultimately to our communities,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “This recognition honors our schools’ support staff who are often the unsung heroes who play a vital role in promoting student success, safety and health. I look forward to celebrating Kentucky’s best and the work they do for our children.”

Nominees must illustrate excellence in each of the following areas:

  • Work performance;
  • School and community involvement;
  • Leadership and commitment;
  • Local support (from co-workers, school administrators, community members, etc.); and
  • Enhancement of classified school employees’ image in the community and in schools.

The nomination period will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 10. Each nominator can submit up to two candidates for consideration.

The top two nominees will receive the 2022-2023 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional Award, an honor created by Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman in 2020.

“Often the work of our education support staff goes unnoticed, and just as often, they do not get the ‘thank you’ that they deserve,” Coleman said. “I am pleased to have helped establish the award to recognize these employees and put a spotlight on the work they do.”

Velda Kissick, a paraprofessional at the Bluegrass Discovery Academy in Rowan County, and Paula Rust, director of health services in Kenton County Schools, received the 2022 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional Award.

Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Coleman have put together a committee of key education stakeholders who will review and score this year’s nominations.

Gov. Beshear will forward the names of the top two classified employees to USED as Kentucky’s nominees for the national RISE Award by Nov. 1. The U.S. Secretary of Education then will select a single classified employee from among all nominees to receive the national 2023 RISE Award.