Prize recognizes ‘unsung heroes’ of school systems
TAYLOR MILL, Ky. (WTVQ/News Release) – Paula Rust, Director of Health Services for the Kenton County School District, has received the 2021-2022 Kentucky Educational Support Staff Professional (KESSP) Award ) on February 22. A second winner will be announced on February 24.
The award was established in 2020 at the state level by Governor Andy Beshear and. Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman will recognize the more than 46,000 classified school employees in the state. Employees of classified schools fill vital and often overlooked roles, whether it’s driving students to school, preparing their meals, or working with partner agencies to ensure vital needs are met.
Rust received his award during a surprise visit from Lieutenant Governor Coleman, a former educator, and Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass.
“Our classified school employees fill many roles in our schools. Although often behind the scenes, the work they do is incredibly valuable,” Coleman said. “I’m so grateful that we have an award that recognizes state-level employees of classified schools who do exemplary work.”
Glass said, “I am grateful that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor take this opportunity to honor the immeasurable contributions that classified employees make to every school district in this state. Their hard work and dedication to all Kentucky public school students is both noticed and deeply appreciated. Our schools simply could not function without them.
Rust chooses to make a positive difference every day by making the Kenton County School District a stronger, more compassionate community of learners, said its appointee, Jessica Dykes.
“Paula respects and serves others, including maintaining constant communication during this unprecedented time. She is extraordinary. She can be found helping around the district with COVID-19 testing, performing vision screening for preschool students, participating in a Mister Rogers video as a guest to show the public the importance of wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing, or collaborating with school staff on a student’s medical condition,” Dykes said.
Rust worked with the Northern Kentucky Department of Health to create a COVID-19 decision tree for schools, which was shared statewide. She was asked to present the district’s COVID-19 decision tree to directors of student personnel across the state.
“Paula Rust is a visionary leader of the Kenton County School District and an individual who embodies workplace performance, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, local support and improvement. of the image of classified school employees in the community and schools, as portrayed in the RISE Award,” said Dykes. “For all of these reasons and more, Paula Rust is richly deserving of the 2021 Rise Award.”
By winning the award, Rust’s name was forwarded to the United States Department of Education (USED) for consideration for the 2021 National Recognition Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award. The winner will be announced by the U.S. Secretary of Education in the spring of 2022.
The RISE Award, which recognizes classified school employees who have demonstrated excellence in student service, was passed by Congress in 2019 and is overseen by USED.
The Kentucky RISE Award Committee, comprised of key education stakeholders, was convened by Lt. Governor Coleman and Governor Beshear to review and score the nominations.
Kenton County Superintendent Henry Webb echoed Dyke’s praise for Rust and his work for students.
“Paula Rust is a dedicated District Manager who works tirelessly for the safety and well-being of all Team Kenton stakeholders. His guidance has been and continues to be instrumental in our success as we have adapted to these challenging times in education,” Webb said.
“Paula always makes decisions with the children first and creates world-class educational opportunities for students and staff.”
He said Rust has even incorporated mentorship from high school students seeking careers in the healthcare industry and leading district healthcare professionals with training and professional development.
“She’s just amazing and her impact can never be fully measured,” Webb said.