Celebrating Professionalism on ESP Day

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle (left) talks with a Fairfax County school bus driver.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle (left) talks with a Fairfax County school bus driver.

As part of American Education Week, NEA Vice President Becky Pringle, Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss and the 2015 NEA Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year Janet Eberhardt toured Maryland and Virginia schools on ESP Day, thanking support staff at each school and recognizing them for their commitment to the success of every student.

“On this day, we honor our ESPs—our bus drivers, paraeducators, food service workers and counselors and custodial and maintenance workers for you are what makes our education system whole,” said Pringle. “You inspire, awaken and raise our children’s expectations.”

Echoing the American Education Week tagline, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility,” Secretary TreasurerMoss personally thanked NEA ESP members and pointed to the critical role they play in fostering positive learning environments for every student, recalling her own parents, who were school bus drivers and union activists. “Our ESP’s are proof that you can change the world if you care enough, and that’s what ESPs do on a daily basis,” said Moss.

NEA ESP of the Year Janet Eberhart talks to staff at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA. on Nov. 18.

NEA ESP of the Year Janet Eberhardt talks to staff at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA. on Nov. 18.

Janet Eberhardt, National ESP of the Year, who travelled from California to join the American Education Week celebration and ESP Day, paid tribute to her colleagues.

“When I tour other schools, I am reminded how much our ESPs go the extra mile every day for our students,” said Eberhardt, a school community relations and health worker in the San Francisco School District. Eberhardt created a mentorship program to help students build self esteem and make positive choices, helped bargain professional development for her district’s ESP members, and continues to travel the country lifting up the work of her colleagues. “The love, care, and dedication ESPs show each and every one of our students is truly inspirational and I am proud to be able to represent them and share their stories.”

The day for the leaders began with the rising of the sun, filled with breakfast meet and greets with NEA members at schools in Arlington and Springfield, Virginia, and in Manchester, in Maryland. The day wrapped with Vice President Pringle saluting educators at the Fairfax Education Association Representative Assembly. Moss and Eberhardt delivered remarks during the ESP Day Reception at the Maryland State Education Association headquarters in Annapolis, MD..

“On this 94th anniversary of American Education Week, we are reminded that it takes the whole team to serve the whole child,” Pringle said. “On this National ESP Day, you are the bridge for teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. We honor you for all that you do.”