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Member & Activist Spotlight

‘As an ESP, our roles are very valuable’

Tijuana Greene, who recently retired, was an RBS assistant for exceptional children in Guilford County, North Carolina for 15 years
Tijuana Greene
Published: October 27, 2023

Before I was an ESP, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I would volunteer at my daughter’s school. Her pre-K teacher inspired me to go into education.

I retired in August, but I was a regional behavior support assistant for exceptional children at Jefferson Elementary School in Guilford County, North Carolina for 12 years and was in that system for about 28 years.

As an ESP, our roles are very valuable. We assist teachers and do teacher work, and we are the first ones there, the last ones to leave the building.

I loved the beginning and end of each day because the kids would greet me with a hug on their way to and from the classroom, it made me look forward to going to work.

An obstacle I faced was just knowing I couldn’t save all the kids. I worked with behavior kids. I always strived to make sure that they were on the right path or receive proper treatment. If they would get in trouble, I would try to fix it. My principal would tell me, ‘you can’t save every child’ but that was always my goal.

When I first became an educator, one of the teachers I worked with invited me to attend a Guilford County Association of Educators (GCAE) meeting and she said ‘this will be your best friend and you will need this.’

When I got there, they just took me under their wings. I became involved with various programs, and they continued to push me and help me stay active. First, I was the ESP Director for our local association, then I was on the board for the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), and then I was the ESP vice president and ESP president for the NCAE.

The NCAE is very supportive and actively involved in making sure that everything is fair and providing us with information we need as ESPs. They continue to advocate for a livable wage for each and every ESP.

I highly recommend and encourage all ESPs to enroll and participate in NEA workshops available to them. They’re great and can provide valuable information and resources.

National Education Association

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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.