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Professional Development

NEA believes that professional development should be required throughout the career of education support professionals. Professional development programs should provide equal opportunities for these educators to gain and improve the knowledge and skills important to their positions and job performance. They should assure that these educators have a decisive voice at every stage of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Student achievement depends on supporting and educating the whole student. To have high standards for students, there must be high standards for the staff members who work with them. 

NEA offers a wide variety of professional development programs through our State Affiliates. Below is a list and description of current programs available to affiliates. Our two premier professional development opportunities are the NEA ESP National Conference and the NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow program. Additional programs may be available to ESP members through their State or Local Association.

For additional information on any of the professional development programs below please contact Lisa Connor in the NEA ESP Quality Department.

NEA ESP National Conference

The NEA ESP Conference is the premier professional development conference for Education Support Professionals. The conference is designed to provide professional development opportunities for participants to help them gain the skills they need to build stronger locals: building strong internal and external relationships, organizing members, and enhancing NEA ESP members' ability to influence positively student achievement.

NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow

The NEA LFT program was created to train future ESP leaders in leadership attitudes, skills, and knowledge. The overarching goal is to develop skilled ESP leaders across the 50 states. Each year 20 ESP members are selected to participate in the program through an extremely competitive process. LFT is based on a learning community concept influenced by systems thinking guru Peter Senge's work.

"When all is said and done, the only change that will make a difference is the transformation of the human heart."

Beat Privatization: A Step-by-Step Crisis Action Plan

When a school district is already considering contracting out for services, it’s too late to develop a pro-active anti-privatization campaign. The local must organize and act immediately! When it is necessary to react to a privatization crisis, Beat Privatization provides the tools necessary to organize the reaction into an Offensive Action Plan for the local and its members.

Supporting Our Own: ESP Mentoring

NEA believes that mentoring programs help enhance the professional expertise of employees as well as assist in retaining quality staff.  Supporting Our Own is designed to assist members in their understanding of mentoring in general and outlines the necessary steps to implements a successful mentoring program. 

Education Support Professionals: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

Do members of your community understand the essential role that Education Support Professionals (ESPs) play in education and in student success? ESPs keep students physically and emotionally healthy and safe, engage students so they feel connected to the wider school community, support students who require specialized interventions, and challenge them to understand the connection between education and lifelong success. They keep students healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged, ensuring their success for college, career and citizenship.

During this training, participants will learn about:

  • The Whole Student approach and messaging how ESPs are a critical member of the education workforce.
  • Building connections and improving communication between educators and the community.  Creating these relationships is critical to gain respect and recognition for ESPs and protect against outsourcing to for-profit corporations.
  • Participants will walk away feeling empowered to engage and network with community members in order to build support for their fellow ESPs, students and public education.