November 4, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Nominates Two New Yorkers for U.S. Department of Education's Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award

Governor Hochul Nominates Two New Yorkers for U.S. Department of Education's Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award

Award Honors School Employees Who Provide Exemplary Services to Students

Buffalo City School District and Newburgh Enlarged City School District Employees Nominated for Outstanding Performance

Governor Kathy Hochul today nominated two New York public school employees for the U.S. Department of Education's Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award, a federal award to honor classified school employees who provide exemplary services to students. Nominees include Bridget O'Brien-Wood, Director of Child Nutrition Services for the Buffalo City School District, and Patricia Coyne, Transportation Coordinator for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.

"From health services to transportation workers, all school employees play an essential role in keeping our schools running and our students safe," Governor Hochul said. "I'm honored to recognize these two individuals for their leadership and commitment to creating school environments where students can learn and thrive. Every day, they show up for our kids and deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their hard work."

The RISE Award recognizes classified school employees, including paraprofessionals, clerical and administrative services, transportation services, health and student services, technical services, and skilled trades, who provide exemplary service to students. The Secretary of Education will select a candidate to receive the RISE Award next spring.

Bridget O'Brien-Wood has been the Director of Child Nutrition Services at the Buffalo City School District, the second largest school district in New York State, for the past 30 years. She manages a team of 460 staff to administer the federal school lunch, breakfast, snack, and summer meals programs which provide meals free of charge to Buffalo city children at 87 school buildings (public, nonpublic, charter schools) and 124 summer locations. During the pandemic, Bridget worked tirelessly to ensure the district's families had access to nutritious meals during school closures.

As Transportation Coordinator for Newburgh Enlarged City School District, Patricia Coyne ensures that transportation is never a barrier to a student's education or participation in extracurricular activities. She works with students, parents, school administration and staff, and transportation contractors to efficiently route buses and ensure students get to and from school safely. In addition to daily school transportation, she works with summer programs, athletic teams, and the Curriculum and Instruction office for transportation to afterschool programs, field trips, and sports events. She is also developing a new transportation introduction program for students to ease anxiety and educate on bus safety, and works closely with families to ensure safe and reliable student transportation.

The U.S Department of Education invited governors of each state to nominate up to two candidates annually. Nominees from New York were selected based on work performance, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, local support, and enhancement of classified school employees image in the community and schools.

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, "Our schools would not be able to do the incredible work they do without the vital staff members who play key roles in creating environments that promote student achievement, safety, and health. I am grateful for these frontline heroes like Patricia Coyne and Bridget O'Brien-Wood who devote themselves to ensuring students have what they need throughout the school day and are an essential part of the foundation of school communities.

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, "The work of school health, transportation, food service, and maintenance personnel allows teachers to teach and students to learn. Young people cannot achieve their full potential if they are hungry or cannot get to class. Bridget O'Brien-Wood and Patricia Coyne ensure students are ready to learn, and I am thrilled to congratulate them. The support and devotion of these incredible staff members help provide the opportunities that will allow all of our children to go as far as their hopes and dreams will take them."

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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