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Read This Before You Submit Your Excellence Award Application

March 01, 2022 David Wylie

Excellence awards 2022

You don’t have to work in the education sector long to know funds are tight. You can improve your chances of earning a coveted place in the budget if you quantify the value of your risk management initiatives. Coincidentally—or not—metrics also figure into the Fund’s annual Excellence Awards evaluation process.

If your schools recently solved a risk management challenge, we encourage you to apply for a 2022 award. To help you put your best foot forward, we dug into past award-winning applications and identified a handful of best practices.

Submit your 2022 Excellence Award application by June 3 at 6 p.m. Central Time.

Katy ISD: Overcoming COVID-19

When schools began cautiously welcoming staff and students back to campus in the pandemic’s early months, Katy ISD administrators knew they had to reimagine the typical school day. The district’s COVID-19 response plan included onsite testing, a self-reporting app, and contact tracing. RediMD physicians review test results and arrange virtual office visits if necessary.

What stood out

Katy ISD’s Excellence Awards application was heavy on hard numbers common in eye-catching initiatives:

  • Non-occupational telemedicine visits increased from approximately 1,000 annually to more than 10,000.
  • The uptick in telemedicine visits saved an estimated $2,925,000 on urgent care and emergency room visits.
  • Negative COVID-19 tests promoted early return-to-work and, by extension, easily saved an estimated $3 million in substitute teacher pay, according to the district.

Arlington ISD Heat Safety Campaign

Summer is when school floors are stripped and waxed, classrooms are deep-cleaned, and straggling work orders are tackled. Heat, humidity, and physical work can collide to create hazardous conditions for employees tasked with preparing facilities for the fall semester. Arlington ISD’s heat safety campaign protects staff from heat-related illness.

What stood out

Evergreen risk. Employees who work outdoors will be at risk of heat illness long after the pandemic subsides.

Universal best practices. Arlington ISD’s campaign draws on time-tested principles any district can embrace. For example, you don’t need a big budget to weave plenty of water, rest, and shade into the workday.

Districtwide participation. Arlington ISD Environmental and Safety Coordinator Corey Robinson collaborated with the district safety committee to launch the heat safety program. The committee includes representatives from departments across the district.

Comprehensive plan. The Fund’s Excellence Awards evaluation committee had the chance to review Arlington ISD’s written, comprehensive heat safety plan. The plan includes:

  • Employee training
  • Supervisor training in soft skills such as coaching and communicating
  • Acclimatization
  • Heat index monitoring
  • Hydration
  • Shade
  • Regularly scheduled breaks
  • Protective equipment such as non-conductive umbrellas, canopies, eyewear, and hats/visors
  • Emergency response procedures

The district’s safety plan is a living document. Robinson and the safety committee review it regularly to ensure it addresses heat-related injury and illness trends.

Crandall ISD COVID-19 Cleaning Ambassadors

The emphasis on cleaning and disinfecting has softened as the pandemic persists. But there was a time when schools wiped down desks, doorknobs, and other frequently touched surfaces around the clock. Crandall ISD hired community members to help ensure staff and students had sanitary places to work and learn.

What stood out

Community engagement. Schools are integral members of their communities. Crandall ISD gave its neighbors the chance to collaborate with employees toward a districtwide goal. The initiative also provided financial relief at a time when the economy sagged under the pandemic’s weight.  

Creativity. While manufacturers flooded the market with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation technology, bipolar ionization equipment, contact tracing apps, and other tech-powered pandemic mitigation tools, Crandall ISD found a creative, yet simple solution to an emerging risk.

Supporting documentation. The district’s Excellence Awards application included a short video of COVID Ambassadors explaining how the program impacted their lives. Supporting documentation gives our evaluation committee a more complete picture of your initiative.

Fort Bend ISD

Workplace safety programs have the power to increase productivity and cut injury-related expenses. But Fort Bend ISD’s “I Work Safely Because” initiative made it clear that district leadership doesn’t follow safe work practices just because the budget says they should.

What stood out

Emphasis on culture. The Fund encourages all members to adopt a written accident prevention plan. Fort Bend leadership knows, however, that in strong safety programs, safety is embedded in the organization’s culture—and culture starts at the top.

Leading by example. If you want to make safety part of your culture, leaders have to demonstrate their commitment. Fort Bend ISD’s award-winning initiative gave directors, managers, supervisors, and other leaders the chance to share their motivation for following the same safety procedures they expect staff to follow.

Multichannel communication. According to one long-standing communication principle, a message doesn’t resonate until the audience has heard it multiple times, in multiple formats. Fort Bend leveraged email, newsletters, flyers, and physical bulletin boards to spread the word that safety is personal.

We’re stronger together

The Fund’s strength is built on its 1,000-plus members coming together to manage risk. In the spirit of collaboration, we encourage you to read about past Excellence Award-winning initiatives and consider how you can apply them in your schools.

5 benefits of earning a 2022 Excellence Award

The 2022 Excellence Awards application window is open until June 3. If you need help convincing your leadership team to apply, share these five benefits of earning an award:

  1. Join a select group of your peers recognized by the Fund for their risk management efforts. We issue no more than 10 awards annually.
  2. Boost morale by sharing the recognition with staff who contributed to your initiative’s success.
  3. Demonstrate your commitment to managing risk and protecting the Fund’s financial strength.
  4. Foster community trust that your organization serves as a good steward of its resources.
  5. Receive a plaque and a $1,000 risk management grant.

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