Governor Brian P. Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced the winners of the third annual Georgia Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award, which honors those who provide exemplary service in public education. Mrs. Marissa Ramos-Santana, a Bilingual Parent Liaison for Carrollton City Schools, and Sergeant Jacob Wise, a School Resource Officer for Lumpkin County Schools, are this year’s winners. They have also been submitted as Georgia’s nominees for the national RISE Award, in which the governor of each state is invited to nominate up to two classified school employees.
“I am pleased to recognize these two hardworking Georgians who are dedicating their service to educating and protecting the children of our state,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Mrs. Ramos-Santana and Sergeant Wise are two of the unsung heroes of Georgia’s K-12 schools, and I appreciate all that they do to impact they students they interact with for the better.”
All schools and districts were invited to submit a nominee for the Georgia RISE Award. Nomination forms were reviewed by a panel of judges composed of representatives from the Georgia Department of Education and numerous education organizations. The highest-scoring applications were presented to Governor Kemp, who made the final selection of two nominees.
“Education Support Professionals work every day to support the education of Georgia’s students,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “Their work often takes place behind the scenes, which is why it’s such a joy to honor these two outstanding members of our education family, Mrs. Ramos-Santana and Sergeant Wise. I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to each of them.”
Employees in the following job categories are eligible for consideration for the Georgia RISE Award. These categories are set in statute for the national award: paraprofessional, clerical and administrative services, transportation services, food and nutrition services, custodial and maintenance services, health and student services, technical services, and skilled trades.
Marissa Ramos-Santana is Carrollton City Schools’ districtwide Bilingual Parent Liaison. In this role, she meets individually with families of students who are not native English speakers to provide information to help their children transition to the school system.
To help connect families, schools, and the communities, Mrs. Ramos-Santana hosts parent meetings to promote family-school engagement, develops informative newsletters, highlights information on social media, makes home visits, and attends school and community events. She promotes a Family Resource Center with educational materials and technology available for checkout and works to identify additional available resources within the school and community for families.
To build connections with students and teachers, Mrs. Ramos-Santana also volunteers in classrooms, conducts activities with students, and attends and participates in extracurricular activities.
“Marissa reaches out to people, and they immediately trust her and know that they can count on her,” Gyla Gonzáles, Executive Director of Carroll County Family Connection, wrote in a recommendation letter. “She is exceptional in what she does, and [it is] truly inspiring how she reaches out to people and connects with them in a special way.”
Jacob Wise is the lead School Resource Officer (SRO) for Lumpkin County Schools. He oversees five additional SROs and works closely with the local sheriff to train officers and ensure Lumpkin County’s campuses are safe and secure.
In addition to ensuring students’ safety during the school day, Sergeant Wise is an integral part of the Lumpkin County community and works to build relationships with students. He serves as a mentor to several students across the district, can be found many afternoons and evenings at extracurricular school events and school board meetings, and is one of the last people to leave campus after a home football game.
Sergeant Wise also serves on the Drug Free Lumpkin 365 community committee to help combat underage drinking and nicotine use. He also leads the community’s junior law enforcement academy during the summer.
“As a new principal, Jacob’s calm demeanor and helpful spirit have been a blessing,” Lumpkin County Middle School Principal Nathan Gerrells wrote in a recommendation letter. “Officer Wise is working hard to make the role of SRO a positive force in our building and district. He is an asset to our building, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with him.”