By: Frances W. Hopkins
We are now in Year 3 of the RISE (Recognising Inspiring School Employees) award, through which the US Department of Education (ED) honors employees of classified schools. Candidates include people who work in schools as: paraprofessionals and in clerical and administrative services, transportation services, food and nutrition services, custodial and maintenance services, security, health and student services, technical services and skilled trades.
State nominations (Governors or their delegates) must be submitted to ED by November 1.
The RISE Prize was inaugurated in April 2019, when Congress passed the Classified School Employees Act Achievement Recognition Act. The following fall, ED officially launched the first round of awards.
While ED received many inspirational nominations in the 2021-22 contest, one person stood out. US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has selected Ms. Keeley Anderson, a risk intervention coach at Newcastle Middle School in Newcastle, Wyoming, announcing her award via video message.
Ms. Anderson plays a role that prioritizes students who need extra support to succeed. She oversees her school’s suspension program. She also plays a leadership role for the school’s Late Start Wednesday programming. In addition, she participates in the summer maintenance service of her small rural district. And, she was the head varsity volleyball coach for Newcastle High School.
Ms. Anderson has become even more critical of her school and community during the COVID pandemic. In addition to her regular duties, she became the main communicator and liaison for students placed in quarantine by public health orders, organizing a plan to keep students on track and helping them transition to the classes.
The federal review for the 2022-2023 award cycle will take place in November and early December. Interested persons should contact RISE@ed.gov. By statute, only one nominee is ultimately selected as the RISE Award winner, but all states are encouraged to honor and promote their nominees.
Individuals should contact their governor’s office or state education agency to inquire about their state-specific nomination process. Governors’ staff and state education agency program administrators may contact RISE@ed.gov for any questions and to indicate a State’s plans to participate in the current cycle.
ED looks forward to another year of spotlighting the dedication of education support professionals across the country. In recent years, the value of their work has become even clearer. We are thrilled to offer Federal Honors for these sometimes overlooked academic positions that serve the whole child, truly making academic success possible.
Frances W. Hopkins is the director of the RISE Award, as well as the President’s Education Awards Program.