Two Tennessee District Staff Nominated for National Award Recognizing Inspiring School Employees

Friday, November 12, 2021 | 11:10am


National Recognition of Tennessee Classified School Employees


Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced two state finalists for the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award- Joshua Hinerman, Director of Transportation for Robertson County Schools and Hal Taylor, Director of Operations for Cleveland City Schools.    

The RISE Award was created by Congress in 2019 and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education to honor 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. 

"I’m proud to honor Mr. Hinerman and Mr. Taylor for their exemplary service to Tennessee students,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “These individuals have worked hard to maintain positive learning environments for their communities, and they play a critical role in preparing students for success beyond the classroom.”

“Ensuring the operations and transportation roles and responsibilities are maintained at the highest level has been essential as our districts and schools continue to make adjustments and provide our students with the best possible education in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “With this nomination, we honor two of these amazing individuals who have truly gone above and beyond for students. Congratulations to Mr. Hinerman and Mr. Taylor and thank you for your commitment to students.”  

In coordination with the Governor’s Office, the Tennessee Department of Education selected these two finalists from a pool of nominees submitted from across the state by local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, nonprofits, parents, and community members. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the national honoree and present the individual with an award in the spring.  

“We are ecstatic that Mr. Hinerman has been chosen for this recognition! You will find no one else who loves ‘the yellow school bus’ more and who puts students first every day,” said Dr. Chris Causey, Director of Schools, Robertson County Schools. “From driving routes himself, to making sure families with no vehicle can make it to doctor's appointments even an hour away in Nashville, there is nothing Mr. Hinerman won't do for any child in our school system. We are proud that he is part of Robertson County Schools!”  

“Hal Taylor is an example for each of us in the field of education. His hard work, dedication, and willingness to improve the lives of our students and staff drives him to provide the very best facilities and transportation services,” said Dr. Russell Dyer, Director of Schools, Cleveland City Schools. “The RISE Award is an appropriate recognition for Mr. Taylor's work. Not only does he perform all of his job duties on a regular basis, but he rises above this daily to ensure the very best for all stakeholders in our district. I commend Mr. Taylor not only for how he performs his job, but also for his character and desire to do what is right each and every day.”  

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.   

For more information about the RISE award, click here.  For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact