Education Support Staff Professional of the Year

Education Support Staff Professional of the Year

Nominations for the 2020 Education Support Staff Professional of the Year have closed. Check back in Fall 2021 when the next nomination window opens.


About the Program

Each school community has numerous dedicated professionals who spend their day in support of educators and students. As part of its ongoing commitment to highlighting and recognizing the contributions of individuals across the state who go above and beyond in our schools and districts, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is proud to partner with AFSCME Council 25, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan and the Michigan Education Association to offer this annual award. Each year, two awardees are named, and these individuals become Michigan's nominees for the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, coordinated by the United States Department of Education.


2019 Award Winner - Russ Clark Education Support Staff Professional of the Year

Russ Clark, a bus driver for Rockford Public Schools, was selected from a field of more than 250 nominations and named the 2019 Education Support Staff Professional of the Year.

Clark retired from General Motors after 32 years and took the suggestion of a friend to start driving school buses. He has now worked for the district for eight years, transporting primary and secondary special needs students, and has loved it from the moment he started.

Described as having a "servant's heart," Clark is constantly involved in making sure that the school experience is a positive one for his students. He attends their events at school, and goes above and beyond for them, making sure they know they are valued members of their school community. Clark is known for his Wednesday treats, and for making each student’s birthday special by getting them a gift, as well as putting together holiday treat bags of which he funds out of his own pocket. And when a student isn’t feeling well, he sends a get-well card.

Clark's concern for his school community goes beyond ensuring that all his students have a positive experience. He checks in with school staff before getting started on his route and is constantly offering to lend a hand in the bus garage. Clark has been described as an exemplary teammate who works with other school staff for the betterment of students and their families, colleagues, and the district.

For this dedication to his students and school community, we are proud to honor Russ Clark as Michigan's 2019 Education Support Staff Professional of the Year!  



Who Is an Education Support Professional?

Education Support Professionals include, but are not limited to, individuals who work following positions/roles:

  • Paraprofessionals (All)
  • Teachers' Aides & Assistants
  • Program Aides & Assistants
  • Preschool Care Givers
  • Before/After School Care Givers
  • Bus Monitors & Aides
  • Lunchroom & Playground Monitors
  • Noon Supervisors
  • Cafeteria Workers
  • Line Cooks
  • Food Preparation Workers
  • Food Service Workers
  • Cashiers
  • Health Aides
  • Crossing Guards
  • Mechanics
  • Bus Drivers
  • Transportation workers
  • Garage Workers
  • Receptionists
  • Secretaries
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Office Workers & Assistants
  • Bookkeepers
  • Payroll Clerks
  • Accounting & Financial Assistants
  • Registration & Records Assistants
  • Attendance Technicians
  • Couriers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters Painters & Glaziers
  • HVAC Specialists
  • Machine Operators
  • Engineers
  • Building & Grounds Keepers
  • Maintenance Personnel
  • Custodians
  • Janitors
  • Technology Coordinators
  • Computer Operators & Programmers
  • Systems Analysts & Data Processing Specialists
  • Media & Public Relations Specialists
  • Audiovisual & Language Technicians
  • Mechanical Technicians
  • Security Guards
  • School Resource Officers
  • Security Workers

For more information about the Education Support Staff Professional of the Year program, please contact Jennifer Robel at or (517) 241-7054.