U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced today the selection of Keeley Anderson, an intervention specialist at Newcastle Middle School in Newcastle, Wyoming, as the national 2022 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE)awardee.
Secretary Cardona notified her of the national recognition through surprise Zoom participation during an all-school assembly. This honor, established by Congress in 2019, spotlights education support professionals’ outstanding contributions to quality K-12 education in the United States.
Officially called “classified school employees,” staff eligible for this recognition include paraprofessionals, 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 professionals. They offer essential services to the school community and play a vital role in providing for the welfare, safety, and success of students.
“I’m pleased to recognize Ms. Keeley Anderson as the 2022 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Awardee for her work to enhance the lives and learning of students in her community,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Education support professionals deserve appreciation today and every day. Especially amid the pandemic, their contributions to school communities have been extraordinary and have helped schools remain open for in-person learning. It’s an honor for me to present Kelley with this well-deserved award.”
“It is an honor to be able to recognize someone who is so dedicated to her school community,” said Gov. Mark Gordon. “Keeley’s tireless commitment to encourage students and her willingness to take on additional duties reflects the excellence of Wyoming’s school employees, whose actions have lasting positive impacts on students’ lives.”
“Keeley is a true inspiration, and I congratulate her for her commitment to the students in Newcastle, Wyoming,” said Brian Schroeder, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “That she is able to connect with students in such a distinct and supportive way just goes to show why she has been nominated – and been awarded – this honor. She allows her students to succeed, and that in itself is a true testament of her character.”
“Over the time I have been an educator, I have always been blessed with great team members,” said Weston County School District Superintendent Brad LaCroix. “Today we celebrate one of our incredibly talented teammates with a very well-deserved recognition.”
“Keeley has a unique ability to connect with students and get them to see that she is on ‘their side,’” said Newcastle Middle School Principal Tyler Barlett, who nominated Anderson for the award. “She helps instill qualities like integrity and character while empowering students to advocate for themselves and learn how to solve their own problems. Ironically, it is when her students no longer need her that we know she has succeeded.”
As an intervention specialist, Anderson prioritizes students who need additional support to be successful. She leads Newcastle Middle School’s in-school-suspension program and the school’s late academic start Wednesday programming. She pitches in as part of the district’s summer maintenance department and served as the head volleyball coach at Newcastle High School.
Anderson became more indispensable to her community during the pandemic. During this time, in addition to all her usual duties, she became the key communicator and liaison for students who were placed in quarantine by public health orders, helping them to manage their work remotely and then to transition back to school.
Events leading to Anderson’s selection began in April 2019 when Congress passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (Public Law 116-13), which states, “Prior to May 31 of each year… the Secretary shall select a classified school employee to receive the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award for the year.”
For this second competition, the Education Department received 25 nominations from 15 states encompassing 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 professionals.
Governors’ offices determined their state-specific process for selecting up to two nominees, and they will again be asked to submit nominees by Nov. 1, documenting excellence in the following areas: 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); and e) Enhancement of classified school employees’ image in the community and schools.
More information can be found here, including how to submit nominations for the 2022-2023 cycle.