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Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award

The Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award honors classified school employees who provide exemplary service to students. 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.

The Tennessee Department of Education, in coordination with the Governor’s Office, will select up to two nominees. Applications and nominations submitted by local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, labor organizations, educational service agencies, nonprofit entities, private schools and their representatives, parents and students, and community members will be considered. All nominations must be submitted here by August 3, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.      Who is eligible for nomination as a classified school employee?

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. 

2.      How will Tennessee’s RISE nominations be chosen?

The Tennessee Department of Education, in coordination with the Governor’s Office, has launched an open nominations process, meaning that all nominations submitted by local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, labor organizations, educational service agencies, nonprofit entities, private schools and their representatives, parents and students, and community members will be considered. Nominations must be submitted here by August 3, 2020. A statewide selection committee will be convened this fall in a similar manner to other educator recognition programs to consider all received nominations. This committee will determine up to two nominees who will represent Tennessee in the U.S. Department of Education’s national selection process. The U.S. Department of Education will then select one national honoree.

3.      Who can nominate individuals for this award?

Applications and nominations submitted by local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, labor organizations, educational service agencies, nonprofit entities, private schools and their representatives, parents and students, and community members will be considered.

4.      What is the timeline for the nomination process?

All nominations must be submitted by August 3. The statewide selection committee will nominate the two applicants in Tennessee to the U.S. Department of Education by November 1, 2020.  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.

5.      In what areas must nominees demonstrate excellence?

Nominees must, at a minimum, demonstrate excellence in: (A) Work performance; (B) School and community involvement; (C) Leadership and commitment; (D) Local support (from co-workers, school administrators, community members, etc., who speak to the nominee’s exemplary work); (E) Enhancement of classified school employees' image in the community and schools.  Nominees and applicants may wish to cite testimony from letters of recommendation. 

6.      What do awardees receive?

In Tennessee, we will recognize RISE nominees at the Principal and Supervisor of the Year Banquet in the fall.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Education will announce the national honoree and present the individual with an award in the spring.

7.      Will this be a recurring award?

Yes, Congress established the award as an annual award, beginning in 2020. See more here.