StaTe News: Nominees for RISE Award

A Louisa County Custodian and Virginia Beach Bus Driver have been nominated for the first time RISE award. Winners will be named next spring.

The Virginia Department of Education announced the nominations on November 12 through a press release which explains, congress created the RISE Award in 2019 to honor classified school employees, such as clerical, school nutrition, health, pupil transportation and custodial staff, who provide exemplary service to students and their communities

Virginia first lady Pamela Northam, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane have selected a Louisa County school custodian and a Virginia Beach school bus driver as the commonwealth’s nominees for the U.S. Department of Education’s first-ever Recognizing Inspirational School Employees Award, also known as the RISE Award.

  • Sharon Houchens, Louisa County Public Schools — Houchens, a custodian at Louisa Middle School, is known as a hard worker whose positive spirit brightens the day of students, parents, teachers and visitors. Students describe the 19-year employee as a “superstar” who leads by example. A video about Houchens is available on the Louisa County Public Schools YouTube channel.
Photo credit Louisa County Public Schools

Marge Moore, Virginia Beach Public Schools — Moore, a school bus driver for the division, is widely respected by her supervisors and coworkers. She is dedicated to student safety and is known for maintaining the cleanest bus in the division’s fleet. Moore has not missed a single day of work during her 49 years of service. A video about Moore is available on the Virginia Beach Public Schools YouTube channel.

Photo credit Virginia Beach Public Schools

“Sharon Houchens and Marge Moore take great pride in supporting student success in their school communities by maintaining healthy and supportive environments for learning, and keeping students safe,” Lane said. “They are representative of the tens of thousands of dedicated support staff in Virginia’s public schools who contribute immeasurably to positive school cultures in which all children are valued and welcomed.”

“It is especially fitting that we honor these exemplary support staff members as Virginia schools go the extra mile to educate students in the midst of a global pandemic,” Qarni said. “Sharon Houchens, Marge Moore, and countless other classified school employees have faithfully transported, fed, and supported students and educators alike through this unprecedented year. We are grateful to all of these employees, and look forward to celebrating Sharon and Marge in the weeks to come.”

The U.S. Department of Education will announce the national winner of the RISE Award next spring.

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