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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.

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.

2021 NEA ESP of the Year Award  

NEA will present its annual ESP of the Year Award in the spring as part of the 2021 NEA ESP National Conference (More details on the conference and award ceremony coming soon!)

The 2021 NEA ESP of the Year Award nomination system is live and ready to accept nominations! Visit our nomination page to find recently updated award guidelines, instructions on how to submit a nomination, form templates, and more.

As a reminder, complete nomination packages must be submitted using the new system by 5:00 p.m. EST on Monday, December 14, 2020.

2020 NEA ESP of the Year

Andrea Beeman, special education paraeducator from Maple Heights, Ohio, addresses delegates at the 2020 NEA Representative Assembly.

Past NEA ESP of the Year Award Recipients

Since the award’s inception in 1992, 29 ESPs from 20 states have received this prestigious national award. Below is a list of former award recipients.

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 2020 ESP of the Year
My priority as ESP of the Year is to organize and advocate for members because elections matter to every facet of our lives.
Quote by: Andrea Beeman, 2020 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.