Tennessee Department of Education on Tuesday, May 12 opened nominations for the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award.

The new national award, created by Congress in 2019 and overseen by U.S. Department of Education, honors classified school employees, such as administrative, food and nutrition, health and student service, transportation or custodial staff, who provide exemplary service to students and their communities.

Individuals, local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, labor organizations, educational service agencies, nonprofit entities, private schools and their representatives, parents and students, and other groups may nominate individuals for this award by August 3, 2020. Tennessee Department of Education, in coordination with the Governor’s Office, will select up to two individuals to nominate to U.S. Department of Education by November 1, 2020.

“Over the past two months, Tennessee educators at every level have stepped up to teach our students in innovative and creative ways,” said Governor Bill Lee. “I am so thankful to the individuals working tirelessly every day to provide our students and families with much-needed supports during these challenging times, and their recognition through these awards is well-deserved.”

Tennessee finalists will be recognized at the annual Principal and Supervisor of the Year Banquet in the fall. The U.S. Secretary of Education will select a single classified school employee from among the nominees to receive the RISE Award by spring 2021.

Commissioner Penny Schwinn said, “As we have seen so clearly this year, taking care of students goes well beyond the walls of the classroom. From providing 1.5 million school lunches a week, to ensuring continued access to critical services, school staff do so much for our students and families every day. We are excited to recognize and elevate their critical work through the U.S. Department of Education’s RISE Award.”

For the purposes of the award, a classified school employee is defined as an employee of a state or any political subdivision of a state, or an employee of a nonprofit entity, who works in any grade from pre-kindergarten through high school 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.