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ESP of the Year Award

The annual award recognizes the contributions that Education Support Professionals make toward their schools, communities, and professions.
graphic of hands tossing up a trophy into the sky

The NEA Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year Award, presented by NEA and NEA Member Benefits, honors a member who demonstrates outstanding accomplishments and whose achievements reflect the vital role ESPs play in public education.

The NEA ESP of the Year serves as an ambassador for ESPs across the country, promoting the value of ESP members at local, state, and national events. While the award showcases one outstanding ESP each year, it also recognizes and honors the contributions that all ESPs make towards ensuring great public schools for every student.

2024 NEA ESP of the Year Award

NEA will present the 2024 ESP of the Year (ESPOTY) Award in the spring as part of the 2024 NEA ESP National Conference.

The nomination period for the 2025 ESP of the Year Award will open in Spring 2024.

Esp of the year finalists

Meet the 2024 NEA ESP of the Year Finalists!

  • Carmel Quinn
    Paraeducator, Vermont
  • Carol Peek
    Campus Supervisor, California
  • Erica Nungaray
    Registrar, Nevada
  • Jen Bramson
    Lead Preschool Teacher, Utah
  • Nashasta Craig-Pollard
    Payroll Clerk and Bus Driver, Alabama

Read their stories

2024 NEA ESP of the Year Nominees

Mandy Swarthout

Alaska

Mandy Swarthout, Paraeducator
Nashasta Craig Pollard

Alabama

Nashasta Craig-Pollard, Payroll Clerk
Satarria Williams

Arkansas

Satarria Williams, Administrative Assistant
Steve Schaeffer

Arizona

Steve Schaeffer, Instructional Assistant
Carol Peek

California

Carol Peek, Campus Supervisor
Andrea Cisneros

Colorado

Andrea Cisneros, Kitchen Manager
Heather Hitchens

Delaware

Heather Hitchens, Paraeducator
Lakisha Ayers-White

Florida

Lakisha Ayers-White, Bus Driver
Renita K. Bolton

Georgia

Renita K. Bolton, Transportation Bus Router
Luann Bjork

Iowa

Luann Bjork, Paraprofessional
Joan E. Ames

Indiana

Joan E. Ames, Bus Driver
Lorisa Harder

Kansas

Lorisa Harder, Registrar
Mioeka Morse

Kentucky

Mioeka Morse, Paraeducator
M. Paula Higgins

Massachusetts

M. Paula Higgins, Intensive Learning Program ESP
Ivory P. Smith, Sr.

Maryland

Ivory P. Smith, Sr., Custodian
Nikki Clear

Michigan

Nikki Clear, Bus Driver/Trainer
Darci Brown

Minnesota

Darci Brown, Bus Driver
Lori Harmon

Missouri

Lori Harmon, School Nurse
Janell Thomas

Mississippi

Janell Thomas, Paraprofessional
Elizabeth Verlanic

Montana

Elizabeth Verlanic, Secretary
Lori Anderson

Nebraska

Lori Anderson, Resource Paraeducator
Maureen Kelly

New Jersey

Maureen Kelly, Paraprofessional
Abril Perea

New Mexico

Abril Perea, Educational Asst./Library Technician
Erica Nungaray

Nevada

Erica Nungaray, Registrar
Renee Freeman

New York

Renee Freeman, Paraprofessional
Matthew Reed

Oregon

Matthew Reed, HVAC Tech 2/Limited Maintenance Electrician
Denise Kueny

Pennsylvania

Denise Kueny, Paraprofessional
Keila Carvalho

Rhode Island

Keila Carvalho, Teaching Assistant
Sharon Hedrington

South Carolina

Sharon Hedrington, Special Education Paraeducator
Jerome Oldham

Tennessee

Jerome Oldham, Bus Driver/Trainer
Raul Hernandez

Texas

Raul Hernandez, Early Childhood Special Education Aide II
Jen Bramson

Utah

Jen Bramson, Lead Preschool Teacher
Carmel Quinn

Vermont

Carmel Quinn, Paraeducator
Aneeka Ferrell

Washington

Aneeka Ferrell, Recruitment Coordinator
Kristy Adams

Wisconsin

Kristy Adams, Paraprofessional
Shasta Rosales

Wyoming

Shasta Rosales, Paraeducator

Meet the 2023 NEA ESP of the Year

pamella johnson
Pamella Johnson accepts the Education Support Professional of the Year award at the 2023 NEA ESP National Conference in Seattle on March 25.

On March 25 at the 2023 NEA ESP National Conference, Pamella Johnson, an academic and behavioral interventionist from Washington State, was named the NEA ESP of the Year. In this role, she will serve as an ambassador for ESPs across the country, speaking about the work and importance of ESPs at local, state, and national events. 

Read more

Watch the 2023 NEA ESP of the Year Award Ceremony

NEA ESP of the Year Speaker Request Form

The NEA ESP of the Year welcomes invitations to speak at in-person and virtual state and local events. To request the ESP of the Year (ESPOTY) to participate in an event, please:
  • Complete the form below, and
  • Ask the State Affiliate President to submit a formal request to the NEA President by email. Once approved by the NEA President, staff will work with the NEA ESPOTY to determine availability. 

Event Details

Session Content

Audience Information

Please share the names and titles, if possible, of any notable NEA or ESP leaders expected to attend (e.g., Board members, committee chairs, executive committee members).

Logistical Information

Is the event in the same location as the speaker's hotel?
Who is responsible for securing the speaker's hotel reservation?
Will ground transportation be provided for the speaker?

Contact Information

Will the main contact be on-site at the event?
Pamella Johnson
I do what I do because I love what I do. I love my students. I love how authentic relationships make it possible for students and educators to come together to map a way to success.
Quote by: Pamella Johnson, 2023 NEA ESP of the Year
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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.