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Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

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. As educators, we know the crucial role played by the thousands of paraprofessionals, office workers, coaches, bus drivers, food service workers, security personnel, custodians and maintenance staff, and other support professionals in our schools.

Along with recruiting and retaining quality teachers, we must recruit and retain quality education support professionals (ESPs). Advocating for better working and learning conditions for our ESPs is part of strengthening an entire school community. 

Did you know Education Support Professionals make up one-third of the entire education workforce? In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a school going for one day without ESPs.

CTA Celebrates Several Special Days in May

  • May 10, 2023: Day of the Teacher
  • May 10, 2023: National School Nurse Day
  • May 16, 2023: CTA ESP Day

Demonstrate Your Support

Show your appreciation for the work educators do to teach, nurture and inspire our students, and to keep our schools safe and healthy. Learn more at Celebrating California Educators.

More Information Is Forthcoming

Check back soon for more information about events planned for these special days in May.

Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC), developed and released by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and ASCD (formerly the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development) establishes a model for ensuring that students and the school environment are healthy, safe, and supported. 

Education Support Professionals (ESPs) play a crucial role in ensuring the success of each school health component. Health and student service ESPs are key players in the components of Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services and Health Services. Food service professionals, as well as custodial and transportation staff, play distinct roles in the components of Nutrition, Environmental Services and Physical Environment. 

The role of ESPs impact all components including  Community Involvement, Employee Wellness and Social and Emotional Climate.


Community Involvement

ESPs are frequently the most immediate and direct conduit into the school community. The majority of ESPs not only work, but also live in the local community where the school is located. ESPs  frequently serve more than one school site and act as a liaison between schools, as well as between school staff and community agencies. 


Employee Wellness 

ESPs who cater to the health and wellbeing of students (Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services; Health Services; Physical Environment) also cater to the wellness of staff. These roles ensure that those who work and study in this environment do so with a focus on health and safety. 


Social and Emotional Climate

All staff, including ESPs, play a key role in establishing, developing and maintaining connections with the students themselves. All adults in the school setting are crucial to establishing positive school climates and enhancing connectedness between staff and students.

Read more in the “Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student” guidebook.


ESP Leadership Academy

Strengthening our schools means strengthening everyone who works within a school system.  CTA provides an opportunity for Education Support Professional members interested in taking on leadership roles in their local CTA chapter: CTA’s ESP Leadership Academy.

The  annual training is exclusively for ESP members interested in becoming effective leaders in their local chapters. 

Interested in learning more? E-mail Mark Deweerdt at

Celebrating ESP on ESP Day and ESP Week 

CTA ESP Day is celebrated every year in May. On this day, we show ESPs how much we appreciate the work they do to keep our schools safe, healthy and running smoothly. This year, ESP Day is May 16, 2023.

Check out #CTAESP and #WeLoveOurESPs on social media! 

Resources for ESP

Great resources for Education Support Professionals

NEA ESP Conference

The NEA Education Support Professionals (ESP) Conference is the premier professional development opportunity for Education Support Professionals across the nation. The goal is to grow and strengthen the professional excellence of ESP members through educator-led, and student-centered learning experiences.

NEA ESP Leadership Institute

NEA ESP Leadership Institute (ESPLI) is a powerful leadership development program, grounded in diversity, equity and cultural competence to train ESP members to be effective leaders in their associations.

NEA Paraeducator Institute

Created by paras for paras, PI aims to elevate the profession of paraeducators through policy, professional development, resources, and more.

ESP Career Issues and Student Advocacy

Education support professionals face various career specific issues throughout their work day. NEA has identified some of the primary issues impacting support employees and have provided tips on how to become an ESP advocate.