Last week, 800 education support professionals (ESP) convened at the 2018 NEA ESP Conference. It’s the premier professional development opportunity for these crucial members of school and campus communities.
The conference is also the perfect time to acknowledge education support professionals and honor one ESP in particular who has contributed enormously to a school community.
The Education Support Professional of the Year is Sherry Shaw, a paraeducator at Tanaina Elementary School in Wasilla, Alaska who works closely with teachers to prepare materials, make modifications as necessary, and work with students one-on-one and in small groups to provide the support they need. To promote ESP Appreciation Week in her school district, she raised money for gift packages for local education support professionals.
Aside from her day job, Sherry helped to establish and manage a program for Wasilla families affected by drug abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness that provides the families with food, clothing, hygiene products, and advice on accessing local and state resources. Congratulations, Sherry!
Our nation’s schools employ more than 2 million education support professionals, whom NEA categorizes into nine career families: paraeducators; clerical services; custodial services; skilled trades; technical services; security services; transportation services; food services; and health and student services.
Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Well, schools without education support professionals would be like Bedford Falls with no George Bailey.
Students couldn’t get to or from school, buildings wouldn’t be accessible, safe, and clean, student records wouldn’t be in order, lights wouldn’t work, healthy meals wouldn’t get prepared or served, and a million other things wouldn’t happen without them.
Hooray for education support professionals! Thank you for nurturing students, providing learning environments that support learning, and helping all students to learn and thrive.
Check out a few previous posts about education support professionals: