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Parma Elementary cook wins Michigan Department of Education award

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Posted at 11:23 AM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 11:27:28-05

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — For her dedication to her school and community, Dawn Hendges of Western School District in Jackson County has been named one of the two recipients of the Michigan Education Support Staff Professionals Of The Year award by the Michigan Department of Education. The other recipient of the award is Holly Holm of Crawford-Oscoda-Ogema-Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD).

This award is to highlight those who spend their day in support of educators and students in their respective schools.

As Michigan’s 2020 Education Support Staff Professionals of the Year, Hendges and Holm are now eligible for the national Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. This is a new, national award created to honor school support staff.

“Every day, Michigan’s dedicated educational support staff like Dawn and Holly work hard to ensure our kids have the support they need at school,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “And now, as Michigan continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and as our kids return to in-person learning, our support staff are critical in keeping them safe. As a mom whose daughters grew up in Michigan’s public schools, I want to personally thank all of those who have dedicated their lives to our kids. Congratulations to our awardees!”

Hendges is a food and nutrition service worker at Parma Elementary School in the Western School District, where she has worked for 20 years. Her district leaders explained that during this unprecedented time of the pandemic, Hendges has gone above and beyond for students, ensuring they have high-quality nutritious meals every day and promoting the location of food distribution centers in the district so no student went hungry. The students know their meals were made by a friendly and caring person every day.

Holm is an administrative assistant with the COOR ISD in Roscommon, where she has worked for 17 years. District leaders say Holm is the rock of the ISD by treating students and staff with the utmost respect, and she is the center of the systems that keep the schools running seamlessly. Her co-workers describe her as being the ear to listen when it’s been a rough day and the smile behind the reassurance to carry on with your day.

“It takes an entire school community to help our children achieve their full potential,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice. “We are so grateful for Dawn and Holly and the tens of thousands of other talented education support staff professionals in our Michigan schools who work tirelessly each day to meet the needs of our students.”