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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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NEA Member Benefits November News

Thanksgiving is coming and everyone needs a break. You have survived the first quarter of the year, but are now being bombarded by preparations for the upcoming Holidays—shopping for gifts, for dinner, and for all the guests coming to stay. Your hands would be full even without having to worry about classroom demands and cold and flu season—if only you had more time! Luckily, we can help you at NEAMB.com with resources for shopping and discounts, ideas for entertaining, hassle-free holidays and even help with your upcoming student loan payments!

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FMLA Benefit Now Available to Education Support Professionals

“In December of 2006 tragedy hit my family. My husband was diagnosed with a rare advanced cancer and he required immediate surgery and would undergo intense chemotherapy in Lebanon over the next year. During this time I was able to use the sick time I had accrued to care for him after the surgery and take him to his biweekly appointments.” That is how her testimony to the Senate Committee began. In 2014, NEA-NH Executive Board Member Melissa Alexander started working on a crusade to ensure no other education professional

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NEA-NH Announces Fall Retirement Planning Seminar Schedule

NEA-NH and NEA Member Benefits offer useful information to help you plan your retirement. Don’t miss this event! Learn what you need in order to retire with peace of mind! NEA-NH and NEA Member Benefits are pleased to present these retirement seminars to help you plan for your retirement. These seminars are ideal for those who are 2-5 years (or more) from retirement. We will review many of the pieces of the retirement puzzle, including:  NH Retirement System Healthcare and Medicare Financial Planning Options NEA Member Benefits for Retirees

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For ESPs, Being the Best for Students Requires Continuous Learning

It’s common knowledge amongst educators that professional development for education support professionals (ESPs) is largely non-existent or irrelevant, if offered at all. Whether five or 20 years on the job, ESPs receive limited access to career learning opportunities unless they provide it themselves. “Everyone thinks professional development is for teachers only,” says Matthew Powell, custodial supervisor at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Ky. “But ESPs also need the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers.” After working for 12 years as a special education paraeducator, Powell returned to college

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