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UPDATE: On March 26th at the 2022 NEA ESP National Conference in New Orleans NEA and NEA Member Benefits awarded Paraeducator Debra Ward-Mitchell from Illinois with its highest honor for education support professionals – the NEA ESP of the Year award. In this capacity, she will serve as an ambassador for ESPs across the country, promoting the value of ESP members at local, state, and national events. NEA-NH’s Sue-Ellen Quinn was honored as one of the finalists for the award and appears here with other NEA-NH members and staff at the awards dinner.


Sue-Ellen Quinn – A Treasured Resource to All and New Hampshire’s Nominee for NEA’s ESP of the Year

Every year, the NEA Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year Award is presented by NEA and NEA Member Benefits to honor a member who demonstrates outstanding accomplishments and whose achievements reflect the vital role ESPs play in public education.

NEA ESPs of the Year serve as an ambassador for ESPs across the country, promoting the value of ESP members at local, state, and national events. While the award showcases one outstanding ESP each year, it also recognizes and honors the contributions that all ESPs make towards ensuring great public schools for every student.

This year’s nominee from New Hampshire is Sue-Ellen Quinn, Reading/Math Interventionist/Paraprofessional from Main Street School in Exeter, NH.

“Sue is the embodiment of an Education Support Professional,” said Paula Gailing, President of the Exeter Paraprofessional Association. “She begins and ends each day with one question ‘What can I do to make lives better?’

Whether it’s helping her students in the classroom or in the community, assisting fellow ESPs through mentoring or contract negotiations, or being a team leader on various committees, there is no denying the dedication she has to showing the world just what an ESP is capable of doing.

Not only is she dedicated to the students while at school, but she contributes to them out in the community as well. “She will watch them play sports or perform in dance recitals,” said Gailing. “She sells tickets at high school games and always volunteers for PTO fundraisers. If a call is put out for help in the community, you can bet Sue Quinn will answer the call.”

Through the year, Sue has helped elevate the role of ESPs from something the community rarely even considered, to something that is appreciated and discussed in a positive light.  That’s an amazing achievement.

“As a parent and community partner, I believe Sue deserves the NEA ESP of the Year Award because of her complete and unwavering devotion to the students of this district through her service, positive attitude, inclusiveness, and humbleness,” said Jeff Neil, member of the Board of Directors for the Southern New Hampshire District YMCA.  “Early in the pandemic, she stepped up as a leader, and in collaboration with the YMCA, made sure kids who may have not had quality access to remote learning were provided in-school support to guarantee no child would be left behind.”

“Ultimately, we need more Sue Quins in this world that lead by example, compassion, and are visionary when achieving goals of student and professional development,” said Neil.

Sue is respected and trusted by both students and staff throughout our community and has earned this by her amazing efforts and caring ways.

Sue has helped proctor SAT’s as well as volunteered at summer clinics. She has spent many unpaid summer hours helping teachers move or set up their classrooms.

“Sue makes a genuine effort to know as many students and staff as possible.  She leads by example as she listens, counsels, and advises in an energetic, positive and impactful way,” said Gailing. “She is a treasured resource to all.”

Sue-Ellen will be travelling to New Orleans on March 24th to attend the National ESP Conference connecting with ESPs from across the country to grow and strengthen the professional excellence of ESP members working in Pre-K to Higher-Ed. The conference features educator-led, and student-centered learning experiences with multiple interactive workshops helping members excel in their careers and positively impact student success. Participants will enhance their knowledge and skills to advocate for students and educators, champion racial and social justice, build community relationships, strengthen and grow membership, and sustain stronger local associations.

The ESP of the Year awards dinner is scheduled for March 26.


Until voters recognize what ESP do every day to help their children succeed, they will continue to be under appreciated, underpaid, and over worked. Our hope is that through education, people will come to better understand the crucial role ESP play in the lives of their children and be willing to give them the pay and benefits ESP deserve.

We are asking you and you members to tell us your priorities, your stories, what you face every day in your schools, and what message you want us to deliver to the public to educate voters. This feedback will guide us in making this campaign a success.


ESP Educate and Elevate Survey

Your Partner. Your Advocate. Your Association.
Our public schools are communities. And we know that our students will not succeed without the hard work performed by all education employees regardless of one’s job description or title.

NEA-NH believes that our ESP members have for too long been underappreciated for the work they do for their students. Your input will help us change that.


Education Support Professionals Issues Committee

Composed of eleven NEA-NH members, the ESP Committee’s job is to advise the President and Executive Board of ESP concerns and issues.  Please let us know what concerns, issues, questions, and information you want us to bring to the governance of NEA-NH.  We want to hear from you! 

The ESP Committee meets monthly and provides reports to the NEA-NH Executive Board.  Contact the Committee by e-mailing or calling our staff liaison, Nicole Argraves at nargraves@nhnea.org or at 603-593-0088.

ESP: History and Background

Education Support Professionals: An essential part of One Education Workforce
In early 2009, Education Support Professional (ESP) membership in the National Education Association topped half a million, reflecting a 3200% growth since we gained full membership status in 1980.

Education Support Professionals were first recognized as Association members in 1967, when “Educational Secretaries” received membership. A category for “Auxiliary Personnel,” or paraprofessionals, was added in 1972. “Educational Support Personnel”—encompassing all non-teaching education employees— was established as a separate membership category in 1980. ESP won a position on the NEA Board of Directors in 1983, and we continued to expand our representation in governance throughout the 1980s.

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On National Recognition Day for ESPs, Thank You For All You Do!

Dear Educational Support Professionals (ESP), The NEA-NH ESP Issues Committee believes that our ESP members fill a variety of important roles in our public schools. Every one of them is critical to the success of each student who attends New Hampshire public schools; no position is more important than another. We believe that our schools are an integral part of making our communities strong. School employees share a common responsibility to provide for the learning environment, the health and mental well-being, and the physical safety of students. We know that

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Exeter “Para-ennial” Garden For a Stress Free End to the Week

The Exeter Paraprofessional Association has planted a perennial garden at the Park Street Playground in Exeter. “We’re calling it a ‘para-ennial’ garden,” said Paula Gailing . “We put a bee house in it because our school focuses on the 4-B’s: Be kind. Be safe. Be your best. Be respectful.” Exeter Paraprofessional Association members, pictured (from left to right) include Denise Dionne, Karen Henebry (garden designer), Margie Matlack (secretary), Sue Eno (VP),  Deb McLarnon, Paula Gailing (Co-President), and Martha Brouillette-Martel (project organizer). Whether you’re a veteran educator or newbie, this school

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NEA-NH ESP of the Year Shannon Fuller and Her Mission to Stand Up to Stigma

Shannon Fuller, recently named NEA-New Hampshire’s ESP of the Year, now finds herself in the running for National ESP of the Year. By all measures, Shannon has been an active leader who is truly making a difference in the lives of countless families. The best person to tell her story is Shannon. Tell us a bit about your day as an Education Support Professional? Like most educators, my daily work schedule has a wide variety of responsibilities. Before school starts, I greet and spend time with students as they gather

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NEA-NH Fall Instructional Conference Moves Online

Save the Date: Every Tuesday and Friday in October, 4-5:30pm, for your professional development needs. Let’s come together for a Covid-style, ONLINE, Fall instructional Conference unlike any other! Tell your friends to block those times. All courses will be directly related to member requests during this unique year. Invites to come via email very soon!

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