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Education Support Professionals Honored as White House ‘Champions of Change’

Lily Eskelsen García: NEA applauds their commitment to helping students succeed


WASHINGTON - May 11, 2016 -

Today the White House will honor and celebrate the incredible work of education support professionals (ESP) as ‘Champions of Change’ – school support professionals in pre-K-12 and higher education who are doing extraordinary things every day in our nation’s schools

ESP make up one-third of our nation’s education workforce. Approximately, 2.8 million school support staff work in the nation’s public school systems, with more than 75 percent working at the K-12 level. The White House is honoring twelve of these individuals from across the country.

“Congratulations to these individuals on this incredible honor,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “NEA applauds their commitment to helping students succeed in school. ESP are our public schools’ unsung heroes. They are dedicated professionals who serve their students; willing and generous role models who makes a difference in students’ lives inside and outside of school; and advocates for public education.”

Five of the 12 ESP being honored are NEA members, including:

  • Jeanette Griffin-Kimber
    Substitute Teacher Coordinator
    Meadowcreek High School, Gwinnett County, GA
  • Cynthia Tercero-Sandoval
    Dropout Programs Coordinator
    Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix, AZ
  • Doreen McGuire-Grigg
    Special Education Paraeducator
    Terrace Middle School, Lakeport, CA
  • Annie McClintock
    Special Education Paraeducator
    Harborfields High School, Greenlawn, NY
  • Ted Chaudoir
    School Bus Driver and Playground Supervisor
    Southern Door County School District, Brussels, WI

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Asking for nominations, the White House posted on its Champions of Change blog:

We’re looking for school support professionals in pre-K-12 and higher education who are doing extraordinary things every day in our nation’s schools. Along with a strong foundation in reading, writing, math and other core subjects, our students must also have their most basic needs of health, safety and character addressed in schools. Educators, including school support professionals, often go above and beyond to meet all of the needs of students so they can achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. The White House is excited to honor and celebrate the incredible work of school support professionals. These educators play a critical role in education and are doing extraordinary things in our schools. Whether it is the paraeducator who starts an after school tutoring program; the clerical staff person who develops a backpack food program for hungry students; the school bus driver who encourages reading on their bus; the custodian who collects clothing, school uniforms and toiletries for students in need; or the school nurse who mentors young girls after school, school support professionals make significant contributions to the health, safety, engagement, support and academic success of students. They ensure student success by taking the vision of the whole student into action every day and in every school.

In addition to honoring education support professionals, the White House has honored Champions of Change for climate equity, living wage, the Affordable Care Act, expanding fair chance opportunities, among others.

A press statement released by the White House stated, “Educators, including school support professionals, often go above and beyond to meet all of the needs of students so they can achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. The White House is excited to honor and celebrate the incredible work of school support professionals.”

For photos of Wednesday’s event visit NEA’s Flickr account

Follow the conversation at #WHchamps

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The National Education Association (www.nea.org) is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  202-262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org