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Member Spotlight

Sonia Fortin: They Are My Family

Sonia Fortin is a tutor in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and an ESP leader in her state!
Sonia Fortin
Published: 11/16/2020

I am a huge advocate for my profession and making sure education support professionals—or  ESPs—have the space to thrive and are recognized as the educators we are. ESPs come with different perspectives and know what students need and how to improve our profession. 
 
In Massachusetts, we developed the ESP Bill of Rights that outlines what ESPs need in their contracts and in their lives. Our ESP Bill of Rights includes language on a living wage. When we surveyed our membership, 84% of ESPs said they made $30,000 or less a year. This leaves many of our ESPs with little to no choice to have multiple jobs. With a living wage, we’re able to focus on our jobs and our students without the worry of everything else.  
 
The ESP Bill of Rights also includes language on affordable health insurance. We don't want ESPs coming home with $0 paychecks or just work for health insurance. 
 
I’m also very active in our mentorship program for emerging ESP leaders. Our program isn’t simply attending events or trainings; we want ESPs to organize and lead.

My union has opened doors and provided opportunities for me. To paraphrase Gandhi, a good leader does not create followers—they create more leaders.
 
I am extremely grateful for the Massachusetts Teachers Association, for giving ESPs the space to lend our voice and have it echo across the state.
 
And I am grateful to my ESP family. I am an immigrant from Québec and my spouse is from South Africa. We’re isolated from the world, with no family around. But I have a strong group of ESPs who I know I can turn to and get support. 

They are my family at the end of the day. 

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.