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Burleson State Finalist for National RISE Award
Ms. Burleson Named One of Two State Finalists for National Award
Posted on 11/02/2020
Ms. Burleson Named One of Two State Finalists

On Monday, November 2, the Tennessee Department of Education announced two state finalists for the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award-- Jennifer Burleson, School Nutrition Director for Bristol City Schools and Robbin Cross, Child Nutrition Supervisor for Franklin Special School District.   

“Ms. Burleson’s ongoing commitment to feeding students, both during a typical school year and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, inspires me daily,” said Dr. Annette Tudor, Director of Schools for Bristol City. “Ms. Burleson always thinks of students first and is innovative in her approach to expand services for them, most recently by seeking funding to purchase a custom food truck. As many caregivers have lost jobs and are struggling to provide for their families due to the pandemic, Ms. Burleson leads efforts to ensure resources are quickly targeted to meet the most basic needs of our children. Our school community is truly blessed by her expertise, commitment to students, and heart for service.” 

The RISE Award was created by Congress in 2019 and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education to honor classified school employees, such as administrative, food and nutrition, health and student service, transportation or custodial staff, who provide exemplary service to students and their communities. This is the first year the award will be given. 

"We are excited to honor Ms. Cross and Ms. Burleson for their exemplary service to our state and students and nominate them as Tennessee’s finalists for this award.” said Gov. Bill Lee. “Along with so many school nutrition staff members, they have worked to ensure students had access to critical meal services in the midst of a pandemic and resulting school building closures. We are grateful for all of our school employees who have worked to keep our students safe, fed and healthy in the past year.”  

“When school buildings closed last spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw our school nutrition staff from across the state step up in incredible and innovative ways to keep students fed,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “With this nomination, we honor two of these amazing individuals who have truly gone above and beyond for students. Congratulations to Ms. Burleson and Ms. Cross and thank you for your commitment to students.” 

The Tennessee Department of Education, in coordination with the Governor’s Office, selected these two finalists from a pool of nominees submitted from across the state by local educational agencies, school administrators, professional associations, nonprofits, parents and community members. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the national honoree and present the individual with an award in the spring. For more information about the award, click here

For the purposes of the award, 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.  

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