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Durango Shows Love for its ESPs

Posted on: December 20, 2021
Posted By: Jennifer Latham
Posted in: Blog
Tagged: ESPs

The warmth that education support professionals (ESPs) in Durango felt on Nov. 17 went beyond the unseasonably warm day — they felt the warmth from the love expressed by their union and their school district on National ESP Day.

The day honors and recognizes the contributions that ESPs make to public education. It is a time to strengthen support and show respect for ESPs, who are equal and essential partners in public education.

From messages of thanks to gifts of appreciation from the Durango Education Support Professionals Association (DESPA) for its members in every school and building throughout the district, the day was nonstop gratitude for those who keep schools running and safe. The celebration concluded with a virtual happy hour where members connected with colleagues and won gift cards and “Educate” t-shirts — and discussed their plan to win increases in pay and demand the state legislature to repay its $9.3 billion debt to public education.

Leaders in DESPA’s sister association, the Durango Education Association, said, “We love our ESPs!! Thank you all for everything you do for our students to feel loved, safe, and supported. We hope you know how valued and appreciated you are, today and every day!”

The Durango School District joined in the recognition with gift baskets and thanks as well.

“We appreciate you more than you will ever know. Your warmth and care for our children, your dedication to our district, and your tremendous expertise and commitment are appreciated and admired,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, superintendent of the Durango 9-R School District.

In addition, the Durango 9-R Board of Education expressed its appreciation for Durango ESPs, saying, “Gratitude hardly seems sufficient when trying to express our thanks for the important work that Education Support Professionals do. You have an immeasurable impact on the staff, students and families in 9-R. Thank you for your dedication to children and education–we are so grateful for all that you do.”

The History of National ESP Day

In 1987, the NEA Representative Assembly called for the creation of a special way to honor the contributions of public school support staff. National Education Support Personnel Day was established and celebrated that year. Since then, it has been observed on Wednesdays during American Education Week.

NEA’s National Council of Education Support Professionals (NCESP) successfully campaigned at the 2002 Representative Assembly to change ESPs’ formal name from “Education Support Personnel” to “Education Support Professionals”.

The name change reflects a growing pride in the essential role ESPs play in creating great public schools for every American student. From instructional assistants and paraeducators to office workers, health and student services employees, and food service workers, from custodians, maintenance workers and bus drivers to security guards, technology specialists, and skilled trade workers, today’s support professionals provide invaluable services that enable students to learn in positive, supportive environments.

Jennifer Latham is a paraeducator and member of the Durango ESPA and the CEA Education Support Professional At-Large Director.

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