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Empowering Colorado’s ESPs: Bringing NEA ESP Conference Insights Home

Posted on: March 27, 2024
Posted By: CEA Communications
Posted in: Blog
Tagged: NEA ESP Conference

In the bustling city of Las Vegas, amidst the neon lights and vibrant energy, a group of education support professionals (ESPs) from Colorado attended the National Education Association ESP Conference. Among them was Andrea Cisneros, shining as Colorado’s 2024 NEA ESP of the Year Nominee, representing not only her own achievements and her local union, JESPA, but also the dedication and excellence of ESPs statewide. As they returned home, their suitcases were filled not just with souvenirs, but with invaluable insights and inspiration gained from the conference.

Colorado’s ESPs are the backbone of our public education system, providing support that ensures the smooth functioning of our schools. From assisting students with special needs to maintaining safe and welcoming learning environments, their contributions are immeasurable. Yet, all too often, their vital role goes unrecognized or undervalued. This is why events like the NEA ESP Conference hold immense significance – they shine a spotlight on the invaluable work of ESPs and equip them with the tools and knowledge needed to advocate for themselves and their profession.

Over three days, attendees had the opportunity to participate in a plethora of interactive workshops, each designed to enrich their knowledge, skills, and capacity to advocate for students and educators. From championing racial and social justice to fostering community relationships and strengthening local unions, the conference offered a comprehensive toolkit to advance the cause of public education.

One notable session was led by our very own Vicki Flores and Zander Kaschub from theJeffco Education Support Professionals Association and Coloradans for the Common Good. In their presentation titled “Building Collective Power to Win Healthy School Meals,” attendees had the chance to delve into the impactful work of advocating for healthy school meals and a substantial wage increase for workers. From their involvement in advocating for Colorado’s Proposition FF to negotiating a pioneering healthy food pilot program, Flores and Kaschub shared valuable insights into how they mobilized their community to effect positive change in school meal programs. Their session exemplified the power of collective action and community engagement in transforming educational environments for the well-being of students and workers alike.

Supporting our ESPs isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s essential for the future of public education. As the backbone of our schools, ESPs play a vital role in creating an environment where every student can thrive. When ESPs feel valued and supported, they are better equipped to fulfill their responsibilities, leading to improved outcomes for students and stronger, more resilient communities.

Investing in ESPs today ensures the sustainability and success of our public education system tomorrow. By providing opportunities for professional growth and advancement, we not only attract talented individuals to the profession but also retain experienced professionals who are committed to serving our students and communities.

As we reflect on the significance of the NEA ESP Conference and the contributions of Colorado’s ESPs, let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting and uplifting these essential members of the education workforce. By working together to advocate for their rights and recognition, we can create a brighter future for public education in Colorado and beyond. After all, when we invest in ESPs, we invest in the success of our students, our schools, and our future.

 

 

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