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Helton Recipient of the RISE Award and Nominated for National Recognition

Kelly Helton, Communities in Schools (CIS) site coordinator at Gamewell Middle School and CIS data manager, is the recipient of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, an annual statewide recognition program through the Office of the Governor sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The governor’s office selected Helton as one of the two North Carolina nominees for this national award.

“This recognition is something I never dreamed would be happening,” Helton said. “People keep congratulating me and saying how deserving I am. But I don't understand how – all I am doing comes naturally to any educator, and that's simply making sure my students are supported and loved."

Helton’s principal at Gamewell Middle, Jennifer Dineen, and Keith Hindman, CIS executive director, nominated her to be considered for this statewide honor because of her standout qualities in and outside the classroom. “Kelly takes on multiple roles as a middle school site coordinator and is always optimistic and goes out of her way each day to ensure that those in her learning community are supported,” Hindman said.

Helton has served as a CIS site coordinator for eight years and, since 2020, she has also filled the role of CIS program data manager.

Hindman added, “She is constantly developing multiple community service projects so that her students can give back to where they live.”

Annually, the governor of each state is invited by the U.S. Department of Education to nominate up to two classified school employees for the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, which recognizes the exemplary service classified school employees provide to the learning environment in the school, the school district and in their community.

The Governor’s office will submit Helton’s application to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration for the national award.