It’s time to celebrate American Education Week and an awesome group of educators

American Education Week is November 12-16, and it’s a great reminder that educators across the nation are dedicated to nurturing and supporting all students.

Public schools are where students come together in learning communities of all kinds that share a simple idea: All students from all backgrounds deserve a good education that inspires their curiosity and love of learning and prepares them for the many opportunities ahead.

Did you know 9 out of 10 students in the United States attend public schools? Our schools must have the resources and educators to support students at every step, and education support professionals (ESP) are essential to their journey.

On the Wednesday of every American Education Week, we celebrate National Education Support Professionals Day. This year, that day falls on November 14. NEA created National ESP day 30 years ago to recognize the amazing professionals whose work falls into one of nine different career families: paraeducators; clerical services; custodial and maintenance services; skilled trades; technical services; security services; transportation services; food services; or health and student services.

Check out this video to find out how more than 3 million education support professionals nationwide are the anchor of our schools.

They are often the first people to see students at the start of the school day, and the last ones to see them when the day ends.

We’re celebrating paraeducators such as Lorraine Von Hess at Davies Middle School in Atlantic County, N.J., a member of the Hamilton Township Education Association, who created a program through which students can donate unwanted food items from the school cafeteria to local food pantries.

And school bus driver Tracy Dean in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her bus becomes a hair salon once the last student disembarks at school. Then, Tracy brushes and braids the hair of a girl who doesn’t have a parent at home early in the morning.

And Marcell Branch, a behavior intervention specialist whose experiences with homelessness and scrapes with the law help him connect with at-risk students in Minnetonka, Minn. Branch was Minnesota’s 2016 Education Support Professional of the Year.

This year, we are also thanking the many education support professionals and teachers, inspired by the #RedForEd movement, who ran for political office. Approximately 1,800 current or former educators campaigned for  local, state, and federal offices. For them, the work they do in classrooms and schools is deeply connected to changing policy. One goes with the other, and I think that is great!

By the way: If you know a particularly deserving education support professional whose impact on their students, school, and profession is especially noteworthy,  consider nominating him or her for the NEA ESP of the Year award. The award will be presented at the 2019 NEA ESP National Conference on March 23, 2019, in Las Vegas. For more information about the award and nomination guidelines, check out the NEA ESP of the Year Award page.

This week, remember to take a picture that represents your pride in public schools and the educators who make them special. Post the photos to your social media channels using the hashtags #WeLoveOurESP and #AEW2018 to bring special attention to the celebration all week long.

You can find great artwork in honor of American Education Week here to help show your public-school pride.

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