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Nevada’s Carlene Pacheco Named 2023 ‘Recognizing Inspiring School Employees’ (RISE) Awardee

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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced today the selection of Carlene Pacheco, paraprofessional, Title VI liaison, and family service specialist at Churchill County High School in the Churchill County School District in Fallon, Nevada, as the 2023 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) awardee.   

“Our 2023 RISE Awardee, Carlene Pacheco, has set a national example for what it means to raise the bar for creating welcoming, inclusive school cultures that help students and families from diverse backgrounds thrive,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “By working passionately to meet the unique needs of Native American students and to create educational opportunities that honor and uplift tribal Nations, Ms. Pacheco has contributed to rising graduation rates at Churchill County High School and strengthened the fabric of the entire community. I congratulate Ms. Pacheco on this well-deserved recognition and thank her for reminding the nation yet again of the pivotal role that school support staff play in the success of students and families.”

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said, “On behalf of our state, I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Carlene Pacheco for this well-deserved recognition. Carlene’s unwavering passion, expertise, and dedication make her a true role model for all education professionals in Nevada and a valuable asset to our education system.” 

Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said, “Carlene Pacheco is known for not only going above and beyond, but anywhere and everywhere her students need her to be. She meets families at their homes, on the soccer field, even the grocery store to make sure her students get the support they need to succeed. This level of dedication and the results she achieves are why she’s being honored with this prestigious national award. I am both proud and grateful that she is making such a difference here in Nevada.”

This honor, established by Congress in 2019, spotlights classified school employees’ outstanding contributions to quality K-12 education in the United States. 

Classified school employees 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. 

In addition to her daily duties, Pacheco serves on the Nevada Indian Education Advisory Committee. Its mission is to support, promote, and assure optimum educational opportunity that is based on tribal cultures and maximize participation in the education of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in Nevada. She makes a positive impact on Native American student learning and graduation rates through offering one-on-one tutoring, classroom support, and after-school tutoring.  

Pacheco exemplifies growing up in a community and being part of a program that reaches the most students. She has built bridges among the community, Native American Reservation, and schools. The community views Pacheco as someone to rely on and come to for assistance. 

Events leading to her 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 the third annual competition, the Education Department received 29 nominations from 16 states. Each nomination was peer-reviewed, and four finalists were forwarded to the Secretary for consideration. 

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: 1) Work performance; 2) School and community involvement; 3) Leadership and commitment; 4) Local support (from co-workers, school administrators, community members, etc., who speak to the nominee’s exemplary work); and 5) Enhancement of classified school employees’ image in the community and schools.

More information on how to submit nominations for the 2023-2024 cycle can be found by visiting https://www2.ed.gov/programs/rise/applicant.html or emailing Frances W. Hopkins, RISE director, at Frances.Hopkins@ed.gov.

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