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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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Upcoming NEA ESP Professional Development Webinars Announced

What Does it Mean to be a 21st Century Education Leader? December 12, 2019 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST Education Support Professionals, like all educators, are making, and will face, some of the toughest decisions in the history of their union and public education. To be equipped, educators must come to see themselves as leaders in their unions and in their professions. Developed by practitioners, and using proven research and theories on leadership development, the NEA Leadership Competency Framework provides a lens through which educators can self- identify their leadership

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McAuliffe Sabbatical Seeking Applicants With Great Ideas

Do you know a teacher with a great idea about education? If so, please consider recommending the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical program to them. Each year the sabbatical, administered by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, awards a year-long leave of absence to an exceptional New Hampshire public school teacher. The sabbatical provides the teacher with the time, space and funding to explore, through a self-designed project, new ideas and ways to enhance classroom teaching. This is a unique opportunity for a full-time classroom teacher and their school to gain statewide recognition

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Scholarship Available to Attend 2020 ESP Conference in New Orleans

NHESO, the staff union of NEA-NH, is offering a Jo Campbell Scholarship in the amount of $700 towards the cost of sending one NEA-NH Educational Support Professional member from New Hampshire to the NEA ESP Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 20-22, 2020.   The NEA ESP conference is the premier professional development opportunity for Education Support Professionals across the nation. The goal of this conference is to enhance the skills and knowledge of ESP members to positively impact student achievement, build community relations, organize members, advocate for educators, build stronger

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NEA-NH Joins Veterans Day Outreach Effort

This Veterans Day the White River Junction Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center would like to connect with those in Vermont and New Hampshire who have served. “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is requesting your assistance in reaching veterans in your community. As part of celebrating Veterans Day 11/11/19 we are trying to make contact with as many veterans as possible throughout the region and offer them healthcare and other ancillary services,” said Becky Rhoads, Au. D, Associate Medical Center Director. “We would like to say thank you and have

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