Educators say they couldn’t succeed in the classroom without the work of classified employees
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Velda Kissick, a paraprofessional at Bluegrass Discovery Academy in Rowan County, received the 2021-2022 Kentucky Education Support Staff Professional (KESSP) award on Feb. 24.
Kissick is one of two 2022 recipients. Paula Rust, director of health services for the Kenton County School District, received her award Feb. 22.
The award was established in 2020 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.
Kissick received his award during a surprise visit from Coleman, a former educator, and Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass. Rowan County Superintendent John Maxey, Bluegrass Discovery Director Brandy Carver and Kentucky Board of Education member Allison Slone also attended.
“I want to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for this opportunity to honor the vital contributions that classified employees make to every school district in this state. Velda and Paula have directly contributed to the success of our students. Their hard work and dedication is noticed and deeply appreciated,” said Glass.
Coleman said she couldn’t do well in the classroom without the work of classified employees.
“Often their work goes unnoticed and just as often they don’t get the ‘thank you’ they deserve,” Coleman said. “I am delighted to participate in the recognition of these employees and to highlight the work they do. Their work goes beyond what is expected and makes such a significant difference in the lives of our students.
In her 23 years at the Bluegrass Discovery Academy (BDA), Kissick has been the only constant at the school since the day she started, her appointee, Malissa Delgado, said.
“She is the heart of the BDA. No matter the size of a student’s problem, Velda will do her best to accommodate the child’s needs,” Delgado said.
Kissick has been “Mama K” for over two decades and has been dedicated to helping students in any way she can, including making sure every student in her class has good clothes, food to eat, and items. of hygiene. She’s even been known to pay families’ electricity and water bills to make sure their utilities won’t be cut off if she can’t find an organization in her community to help with the payments.
“The students have a strong bond with her. They trust him with their needs, their sorrows, their educational struggles and much more. She has built many relationships with businesses and organizations in our community that benefit our students daily,” Delgado said. “The community knows her and they always try to help when she calls on them because they know that every resource they provide to us will go directly to our students.”
Rowan County Superintendent John Maxey said Kissick’s dedication was invaluable.
“Velda has served our district and has gone above and beyond to meet the needs of her students. Not only does she help with school education, but she also works tirelessly to ensure that students’ social and emotional needs are met,” he said. “She is truly invaluable to BDA and its students. The Rowan County School District is blessed with dedicated and caring staff like Ms. Kissick.
Upon winning the award, Kissick and Rust’s names were forwarded to the United States Department of Education (USED) for consideration for the 2021 National Inspirational School Employee Recognition Award (RISE).
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 players, was convened by Coleman and Beshear to review and score the nominations.