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A lot has changed lately, but one thing is still certain: Our schools couldn’t run without dedicated Education Support Professionals (ESPs). From turning on the lights and heat first thing in the morning to cleaning and maintaining classrooms and facilities, to supporting parents and families, to providing one-on-one support to our students and all the other work it takes to operate a public school district, ESPs are treasures of our school communities.

Today is CTA ESP Day, when we honor the people whose extraordinary efforts make our schools the safe, supportive homes for learning that all students deserve. Join CTA today in thanking all of the dedicated people who help nurture students every day, providing the following essential services to our school communities: clerical; custodial and maintenance; food services; health and student services; paraeducators; security; skilled trades; technical services and transportation.

While this year’s ESP Day is definitely different with the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPs across the state and nationwide have been putting in extraordinary efforts to serve students and our communities.

“Your dedication to serve our most vulnerable students during COVID-19 is admirable. From cleaning and providing laptops or serving food to the community during this global pandemic, your courage is undeniable,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “You make our schools work and you make our schools a better place to work.”

CTA Education Support Professional of the Year Deisy Bates

Part of this year’s celebration includes honoring CTA’s 2020 Paula J. Monroe Education Support Professional of the Year: Deisy Bates, a Spanish language interpreter/translator with Hayward Unified School District and president of the Association of Educational Office and Technical Employees (AEOTE). For more than 25 years, Bates has been supporting Hayward special education students and their families.

“I am honored and humbled to be named CTA ESP of the Year, joining past recipients who I have long admired and respected,” Bates says. “Receiving this award has given me the opportunity to reflect on the work I have done, feel appreciated, and above all has provided me with the strength I need to continue serving my members during these difficult times.”

Bates’ advocacy includes touting the collective efforts of her ESP colleagues. She encourages ESPs to be ambassadors for their important work, to listen to the needs of their colleagues and fellow members, and to organize in their locals to build power and ensure students have the ESP services they need.

“We are leaders in advocating for social justice, human rights and educational policy that continue to improve public education,” she says.

Education Support Professionals make up one-third of the entire education workforce, and are often called the “backbone of public schools.” The front line of public education begins with the first school bus ride in the morning and ends when the custodian turns off the lights at night. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a school going for one day without ESPs.

An attendance technician with Ventura Unified School District and member of Ventura Education Support Professionals Association, Kendall Griffin has worked in a number of ESP roles during her 20 years in education. Her service in schools has been a lengthy second career of love after Griffin retired from IBM. She said helping students is a major part of why ESPs work in public schools.

“ESPs do the job because they love it and their students,” Griffin says. “I’m a very proud ESP doing what I like to do!”

Make sure ESPs know how much we appreciate all they do for our students. Share your well-wishes today on social media with the tag #WeLoveOurESPs.


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