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.
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


Mandy Swarthout, Paraeducator
Nashasta Craig Pollard


Nashasta Craig-Pollard, Payroll Clerk
Satarria Williams


Satarria Williams, Administrative Assistant
Steve Schaeffer


Steve Schaeffer, Instructional Assistant
Carol Peek


Carol Peek, Campus Supervisor
Andrea Cisneros


Andrea Cisneros, Kitchen Manager
Heather Hitchens


Heather Hitchens, Paraeducator
Lakisha Ayers-White


Lakisha Ayers-White, Bus Driver
Renita K. Bolton


Renita K. Bolton, Transportation Bus Router
Luann Bjork


Luann Bjork, Paraprofessional
Joan E. Ames


Joan E. Ames, Bus Driver
Lorisa Harder


Lorisa Harder, Registrar
Mioeka Morse


Mioeka Morse, Paraeducator
M. Paula Higgins


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


Ivory P. Smith, Sr., Custodian
Nikki Clear


Nikki Clear, Bus Driver/Trainer
Darci Brown


Darci Brown, Bus Driver
Lori Harmon


Lori Harmon, School Nurse
Janell Thomas


Janell Thomas, Paraprofessional
Elizabeth Verlanic


Elizabeth Verlanic, Secretary
Lori Anderson


Lori Anderson, Resource Paraeducator
Maureen Kelly

New Jersey

Maureen Kelly, Paraprofessional
Abril Perea

New Mexico

Abril Perea, Educational Asst./Library Technician
Erica Nungaray


Erica Nungaray, Registrar
Renee Freeman

New York

Renee Freeman, Paraprofessional
Matthew Reed


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


Denise Kueny, Paraprofessional
Keila Carvalho

Rhode Island

Keila Carvalho, Teaching Assistant
Sharon Hedrington

South Carolina

Sharon Hedrington, Special Education Paraeducator
Jerome Oldham


Jerome Oldham, Bus Driver/Trainer
Raul Hernandez


Raul Hernandez, Early Childhood Special Education Aide II
Jen Bramson


Jen Bramson, Lead Preschool Teacher
Carmel Quinn


Carmel Quinn, Paraeducator
Aneeka Ferrell


Aneeka Ferrell, Recruitment Coordinator
Kristy Adams


Kristy Adams, Paraprofessional
Shasta Rosales


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
Two people sitting on sofa

Don't Miss Your Bonus Benefits!

Sponsored Content
Your union membership gives you special access to the breadth of personal and professional resources available through NEA Member Benefits.
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.