Rice was One of Only Two National Recipients of the Award from the U.S. Department of Education & the National Security Agency
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger today announced that Spotsylvania High School educator Kristi Rice has received the 2021 Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Security Agency.
Rice is a local, state, and national leader in expanding cybersecurity education and increasing access to high-quality programs to groups underrepresented in the industry. She leads Spotsylvania High School’s Cyber Knights program, which provides students with technical resources to pursue their interests in cybersecurity. Ms. Rice led the all-girls Cyber Knights team that placed second in the 2019 and 2020 Girls Go Cyberstart National Championships. Additionally, she designed a pacing guide for educators teaching cybersecurity fundamentals that has been shared nationally. Ms. Rice’s students have a 100 percent graduation rate; a 100 percent college, military, and career readiness attainment rate; and 98.2 percent earn industry certifications.
Rice was selected for the award for instilling her students with the skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity — and she is one of only two U.S. recipients. The Spotsylvania educator was selected alongside Sergio de Alba of Miano Elementary School in Los Banos, California.
“Virginia’s educators are tirelessly committed to making sure our students are ready for the future — and Ms. Rice embodies this fervent dedication. Her efforts at Spotsylvania High School not only help Virginia students prepare for exciting careers, but they help strengthen our national security and our readiness for the next wave of cyber threats,” said Spanberger. “I am so proud to know that Ms. Rice is being recognized for her remarkable work to get students — particularly young women and girls — excited about cybersecurity. She has given her students many gifts in the forms of her knowledge, expertise, enthusiasm, and time. With this announcement, I am so glad that Ms. Rice and Spotsylvania High School are receiving the national attention they deserve for their commitment to Virginia’s next generation of cyber leaders.”
“Talented and passionate educators like Ms. Rice and Mr. de Alba help light a spark of curiosity in our students to explore the exciting world of cybersecurity. And high-quality cybersecurity education can inspire a lifelong passion among the next generation of professionals in this field, who will protect our cyber networks and help secure our nation’s future prosperity,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is my privilege to recognize Ms. Rice and Mr. de Alba for their dedication and accomplishments, which serve as an inspiration for cybersecurity educators across America.”
These esteemed educators embody the expertise and dedication that is critical to strengthening our cybersecurity workforce,” said National Cyber Director Chris Inglis. “Our nation faces a shortage of cybersecurity professionals and educators play a vital role in preparing students to gain the skills needed to navigate pathways to cybersecurity careers. High-quality cybersecurity education is key to addressing this national security imperative.”
Rice will be honored during the NICE K12 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Conference. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten will moderate a conversation with the award winners as part of the conference.
The Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award — now in its second year — is presented annually to one elementary educator and one secondary educator. Awardees are selected for their superior accomplishments as educators, academic achievement indicators, and leadership contributing to the field of cybersecurity.
The Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award is led by the U.S. Department of Education — in consultation with the White House National Security Council and the National Science Foundation.