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Massachusetts Paraeducator, Braillist Named Education Support Professional of the Year

Self-taught braillist has been a student advocate for 18 years in Worcester, Mass.


Dallas, TX - March 11, 2017 -

Saul Ramos, a one-to-one paraeducator and braillist in Worcester Public Schools, has been named the 2017 National Education Association’s Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year. An advocate for students, a champion for ESP colleagues, and an educator for 18 years, Ramos received this honor on March 11, 2017, at the NEA ESP Conference in Dallas.

“NEA applauds Saul and his commitment to helping students succeed in the classroom, in school and in the community,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “He is a shining example of the ESP who work tirelessly to make great public schools for every student.”

Approximately 2.8 million school support staff work in the nation’s public school systems, with more than 75 percent living in the school communities in which they work. Ramos is a long-time advocate for students and a mentor to ESP new to the profession.

“When I first walked into a classroom 18 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be recognized for the work I am so passionate about,” said Ramos, who works at Burncoat High School in Worcester, Mass. “Having that first encounter with my first students, and seeing the difference I can make in their lives, made me realize that this is my mission in life.”

More than 900 ESP and other educators from the U.S. attended NEA’s 26th annual three-day ESP Conference, this time in Texas. Its theme was Uniting, Inspiring and Leading the Whole Student. Education support professionals (ESP) are critical members of the education workforce. ESP are categorized in 9 career families: paraeducators; clerical services; custodial services, skilled trades, technical services, security services, transportation services, food services; and those who work in health and student services. ESP meet the most fundamental needs of students, enabling them to reach higher levels of knowledge, achievement, and success. School support professionals make up more than one-third of all public school employees and they have unique and critical roles in helping ensure that all students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni nominated Ramos for the award. She said she finds it gratifying that Ramos will now have the chance to advocate for all education support professionals across the nation.
“I admire Saul and am inspired by his dedication and thoughtfulness,” Madeloni said. “He is looked up to as an educational leader for his commitment to his field, as well as his expertise. He is in fact the symbol of just how essential ESPs are to meeting the needs of the whole student.”
As 2017 ESP of the Year, Ramos will represent NEA and ESP at national education conferences, media events, and other community occasions. He also will deliver a speech this summer at the NEA Representative Assembly in Boston.

“It has been an amazing year for ESP,” said Eskelsen García. “We had 12 education support professionals from all over the country recognized by the White House as Champions of Change. We heard ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg tell the world that ESP “are the secret weapons in school and student success,” during her speech to the 2016 Representative Assembly. We celebrated an amazing ESP Day in November with “Dude, Be Nice” in Seattle, and we launched the NEA Paraeducator Institute."

“However, we know our work is far from complete and we must prepare ourselves and be ready to tackle the real challenges ahead that affect our students, schools, careers, and communities,” she continued. “I know Saul will be a tireless leader for our students, our schools and our ESP in the face of those challenges.”

For more information on Education Support Professionals, visit: www.nea.org/ESP

Follow @NEAMedia on Twitter.
Follow @NEArESPect on Twitter for the latest school support staff news.
Follow #ESP2017 on Twitter for updates on the 2017 ESP Conference in Dallas, TX.

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

Celeste Fernandez Busser
202-822-7823, Cfbusser@nea.org


Saul Ramos, MA
2017 NEA ESP of the Year