Today is designated as special day to recognize the outstanding work and dedication of education support professionals — ESPs — who work in our public schools.
National ESP Day is part of the National Education Association’s 93rd annual American Education Week celebration.
Support staff employees in our public schools are the backbone of our educational system. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and maintenance and custodial workers are important to the daily operation and success of our public schools.
I am proud to be a paraprofessional in the State College Area High School special education department and member of the State College Educational Support Personnel Association.
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I attended public schools in a now-closed Bronx, N.Y., high school. My high school experience was very different from what I see happening in State College every day.
In my high school, there were no support systems in place to assist the students and I never saw my teachers or administrators outside of the school environment.
Students in State College benefit from a strong school-community relationship. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t run into families and teachers from the school district in the community. We are an educational team. State College is my home! Yes, I’m a transplanted “local.” I wasn’t born here but I do live here. I shop, eat, work, vote and sleep here. I pay my bills and taxes here, as do most of the other 320 SCESPA members.
I’ve become an integral part of this community, as are other SCESPA members. Our jobs go beyond the end of the school day and beyond the classroom.
I spend time with students in the classroom, the school buildings, playing fields and on the basketball courts. Working with your children has filled my life with purpose, has driven me to learn more, provided me with a career.
My mother’s words resonate with me every day, “Rudy, find a job that you love doing, find a job where you want to get up every day and want to be there.” I have found that by working as a special education paraprofessional for the past 15 years.
Bus drivers are key figures in student safety. School cafeteria employees provide healthy meals for hundreds of hungry students. The maintenance and custodial workers protect the community’s investment in buildings and facilities. School secretaries keep our public schools operating smoothly.
Paraprofessionals work with teachers, librarians and school nurses to support educational programs and to ensure student success.
Please take time today to thank our support staff workers for the role they play in ensuring that students learn in positive, supportive environments. ESPs are essential partners in the education process.