North Columbia Elementary Resource Officer Historic RISE Award Winner

Officer Lee Peck is a School Safety/Resource Officer at North Columbia Elementary School in Columbia County officer lee peckSchools. Peck goes above and beyond to keep students safe and foster a welcoming environment, and prides himself on building a relationship with every student.

Every morning, Officer Peck stands outside and greets students by name as they arrive at school. Afterward, he continually walks the perimeter of the school to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff. During the day, he assists with problem-solving related to the safety and security of students.

Officer Peck goes above and beyond to assist others while performing his own duties as well. He may be seen wiping tables during lunch duty, or offering assistance to teachers or custodians. During the pandemic, North Columbia Elementary has implemented safety protocols such as misting restrooms and common areas. Officer Peck was one of the first to volunteer for this training; instead of complaining about the extra duty, he can be seen wearing the misting backpack and singing the “Ghostbusters” theme song as he works to keep students safe. A graduate of North Columbia Elementary himself, Officer Peck consistently attends school functions – including plays, musicals, the school carnival, and the school art show – so students feel his support. Two years ago, he planned the school’s first annual Mother/Son Game Night.

Amy Williamson, an instructional specialist at North Columbia Elementary, wrote in a recommendation: “Officer Lee Peck is the perfect example of an elementary school safety officer. His enthusiastic character and positive work ethic are impressive and are such an inspiration to the faculty, staff, and students of NCE.”

For the first time in spring 2021, the U.S. Department of Education will award the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award to a full- or part-time classified school employee who provides exemplary service to students in pre-kindergarten through high school.

The governor of each state was invited to nominate up to two classified school employees. Georgia ran a state-level process, the Georgia RISE Award, to select its nominees.

As a winner of the state-level award, Officer Peck is nominated for the national award and will be recognized at the Georgia Teacher of the Year awards banquet in 2021.

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, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and numerous advocacy groups. The highest-scoring applications were presented to Governor Kemp, who made the final selection of two nominees.

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.

“There are many unsung heroes in Georgia’s K-12 schools, making sure everything runs smoothly so our children can receive an excellent education,” said Governor Kemp. “Harold Quarterman and Lee Peck are two of those heroes. I was incredibly impressed with their credentials, the extra weight of service they have taken on during our fight against COVID-19, and – most of all – their care for students. I am honored to award the first Georgia RISE Award to these two outstanding individuals.”

“Harold Quarterman and Lee Peck represent the best of the best of Georgia’s public schools,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “I don’t think any Georgian could read about the contributions they’ve made to students – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – without being moved to gratitude. As a teacher and principal, I saw firsthand how classified employees keep Georgia’s schools moving forward, and I’m thrilled to see them gaining this recognition at the state and national level.”