Recognizing Inspirational School Employees, nomination deadline, Sept. 27, 2023

Gov. Andy Beshear’s Office, in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education, has opened the nomination window for the 2023-2024 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional Award.

The top two nominees also will be considered for the national 2024 Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award. Enacted by Congress in 2019 and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), the RISE Award recognizes classified school employees who have displayed exemplary service to students in pre-kindergarten through high school.

From driving students to school or preparing their meals, to working with partner agencies to ensure essential needs are met, classified employees serve in a variety of vital – and often overlooked – roles.

“Our schools simply could not function without our classified employees. These employees often are the unsung heroes of our school system,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass. “This is an opportunity to shine a light on the dedicated staff who ensure our students have the safest and healthiest environments in which to learn.”

Eligible candidates must work in any of the following occupational specialties: paraprofessional, clerical and administrative services, transportation services, food and nutrition services, custodial and maintenance services, security services, health and student services, technical services, and skilled trades.

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 Sept. 27. Each nominator can submit up to two candidates for consideration.

Six individuals have received the Kentucky Education Support Staff Award since it was established in 2020 by Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.

Heather LeBlanc, an early childhood coordinator at Gallatin County Schools, and Michael Wright, an instructional assistant at the Calloway County Day Treatment Center, received the 2022 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional Award.

“The contributions of our classified employees to every school district in this state are immeasurable. Their hard work and dedication to students is noticed and appreciated,” Coleman said. “I am pleased to have helped establish the award to recognize these employees and give them the appreciation that they deserve.”

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. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will select a single classified employee from among all nominees to receive the national 2024 RISE Award.