Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.

ESP of the Year Award

The annual award recognizes the contributions that Education Support Professionals make toward their schools, communities, and professions.

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 reflects 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.

2022 NEA ESP of the Year Award

NEA will present the 2022 ESP of the Year (ESPOTY) Award in the spring as part of the NEA ESP National Conference.

Access the 2022 ESPOTY Award Overview and Guidelines > 

2021 NEA ESP of the Year

kimberly scott-hayden esp of the year
2021 NEA ESP of the Year Kimberly Scott-Hayden

Educational support professionals (ESPs) should really be known as essential school professionals. We’ve seen how their work—during the pandemic and always—is the heart and soul of our school communities. No one better exemplifies that dedication, service, and community spirit than 2021 ESP of the Year Kimberly Scott-Hayden.

On March 26, at a virtual ceremony, NEA awarded Scott-Hayden with its highest honor for education support professionals – NEA ESP of the Year. In this capacity, she will serve as an ambassador for ESPs across the country, promoting the value of ESP members at local, state and national events.

Read More

Kimberly Scott-Hayden serves as an inventory control clerk, assists the supervisor of security services, and is the president of the East Orange Maintenance Association

Past NEA ESP of the Year Award Recipients

Since the award’s inception in 1992, 30 ESPs from 20 states have received this prestigious national award. Below is a list of former award recipients.

2020 Andrea Beeman, Ohio

2019  Matthew Powell, Kentucky 

2018  Sherry Shaw, Alaska 

2017  Saul Ramos, Massachusetts 

2016  Doreen McGuire-Grigg, California 

2015  Janet Eberhardt, California 

2014  Paula Monroe, California 

2013  Donna Schulze, Maryland 

2012  Judy Near, Colorado 

2011  Jameel Williams, North Carolina 

2010  Helen Cottongim, Kentucky 

2009  Kathie Axtell, Washington 

2008  Laura Vernon, Wisconsin 

2007  Veronica Henderson, Maryland 

2006  Nancy Toombs, Kentucky 

2005  Kathleen Lange, Illinois 

2004  Allyson “Sunny” Story, Iowa 

2003  Martin F. Meyer, Idaho 

2002  Joann Falk, Colorado 

2001  Irma Valdesino, New Mexico 

2000  Richard Malizia, New Jersey 

1999  Gail Rasmussen, Oregon 

1998  Carter Foshee, Oklahoma 

1997  Karen Mahurin, Alaska 

1996  Evelyn Foster, North Carolina 

1995  Iona Hollway, Louisiana 

1994  Eddie Middleton, Louisiana 

1993  Doris Dortch, Alabama 

1992  Peggy Bertollo, Delaware 

NEA ESP of the Year Speaker Request Form

The NEA ESP of the Year welcomes invitations to speak at state and local events. If you would like to request the ESP of the Year to participate in your event, please complete the information below. Important: Requests must be approved by the NEA President. Before completing the form, a formal request must be made via email from your state president to the NEA President.

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).

Contact Information

Will the main contact attend the event?
Photo of Kimberly Scott-Hayden, ESP of the Year
My passion is helping other support staff recognize their talents and contributions. We need to tell our stories about how we impact our students.
Quote by: Kimberly Scott-Hayden, 2021 NEA ESP of the Year
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.