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Education Support Professional of the Year Paula Monroe speaks at NEA Representative Assembly, emphasizes key role education support professionals play in student success

DENVER - July 05, 2014 -

Education leader Paula Monroe, named the 2014 National Education Association Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year earlier this year, addressed delegates to NEA’s annual Representative Assembly in Denver today. The convention, attended by nearly 9,000 educators from across the country, is the world’s largest democratic deliberative body. In her speech before the entire assembly, Monroe said that winning the annual award “is probably the greatest honor of my life.”

Monroe emphasized the important role of support professionals in ensuring student and school success. “I have seen every kind of student come through my school,” she said. “If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is this: These children are not just attendance records or just bodies we feed in the cafeteria. They are the future of this country, and when they are on our school grounds, they are our children.”

In her 26 years with the Redlands Unified School District in California, Monroe has built an impressive record of local, state, and national Association service. She is a path breaker who started her career as a paraprofessional before changing course to serve the district as a clerk-typist and then a secretary.

In her speech, Monroe underscored the need for the education community to work together in order to better serve students’ needs. She said: “We cannot expect our students to be whole unless we as an education community are whole first. That means teachers and education support professionals working together as a team to promote the success of students.”

Education Support Professionals make up one-third of the education workforce, yet ESP contributions are sometimes overlooked by the education community. “ESPs still have a long way to go to be recognized for the important contributions we make to students, to be recognized as educators,” said Monroe.

Monroe has held many elected positions with the California Teachers Association (CTA) and Redlands Education Support Professionals Association (RESPA), including serving as RESPA’s president from 1999 to 2007. In 2000, Monroe was elected to the NEA Board of Directors and most recently completed a second term with NEA’s Executive Committee.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel introduced Monroe to the assembly and praised her hard work and dedication to her students and fellow members. “I can’t think of a better person to represent the cause of ESPs—or all educators—than our Education Support Professional of the Year, Paula Monroe,” said Van Roekel. “She understands that in order to fight for student success, we, as educators, must fight together.”

As ESP of the Year, Monroe will promote the values and concerns of NEA’s approximately 500,000 ESP members. In this capacity, she will travel to national, state, and regional conferences in an ambassadorial role.
More than one-third of public school employees are school support staff, categorized by NEA into nine K-12 job groups plus one for higher education. The ESP of the Year award was approved by the NEA Representative Assembly in 1991. The first award was presented in 1992.
For more information on NEA’s Representative Assembly under way in Denver, go to Join the conversation at #neara14.

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson