The Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional Award, created by Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman in 2020, recognizes the state's more than 46,000 classified school employees. Classified school employees serve in vital and often overlooked roles, from driving students to school and preparing their meals, to working with partner agencies to meet crucial student needs.
Nominations for the 2023-2024 award must be submitted by Sept. 27.
Nominations may be submitted by public school districts, private schools, educational cooperatives, education organizations, professional organizations, labor organizations, nonprofit entities, parents and students.
Two state winners are announced annually. Their names are then forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration for the national Recognizing Inspirational Schools Employees (RISE) Award, which was passed by Congress in 2019 to recognize classified school employees who have displayed excellence in serving students.
Kentucky Education Support State Professional Award recipients include:
- 2022-2023: Heather LeBlanc, early childhood coordinator, Gallatin County Schools, and Michael Wright, instructional assistant, Calloway County Day Treatment Center.
2021-2022: Velda Kissick, paraprofessional, Bluegrass Discovery Academy, Rowan County, and Paula Rust, director of health services, Kenton County.
2020-2021: Shelly Thomas, family resource coordinator, Barren County, and Robert Walker, school safety and wellness coordinator, Harrison County.