Paraeducator to more than 7,000 NEA delegates: "We must be a united front for students and public education"

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NEA’s Education Support Professional of the Year delivers keynote at NEA Representative Assembly

Janet Eberhardt

NEA Education Support Professional of the Year Janet Eberhardt addresses more than 7,000 delegates and NEA's Representative Assembly.

“We care about our students. We are the ones pushing back against those who see public education as their personal piggy bank and students as a dollar sign. So let’s continue to unite and fight to provide opportunity for all students.”

In her keynote speech at the NEA Representative Assembly, 2015 Education Support Professional of the Year (ESP) Janet Eberhardt called for ESPs, teachers and higher education faculty to join together and fight for students and public education.

“Many of us feed the brain, but all of us feed the soul,” said the 29-year veteran educator who works as a community relations specialist and elementary advisor in the San Francisco United School District. Eberhardt partners with classroom teachers to address emotional, behavioral, and other issues students may have that are interfering with their academic progress and how they interact with others. “It’s easy to say that some fights are for teachers and some are for ESPs. But all of these issues impact our students and our communities,” said Eberhardt.

She was named 2015 National ESP of the Year at the annual NEA ESP Conference in March. As a union leader within the United Educators of San Francisco, Eberhardt has held multiple important leadership roles, including planning, coordinating and delivering ethnic minority leadership training for regional members.

In her speech, Eberhardt addressed the inequalities and injustices that plague many school communities, as more than 50 percent of children attending U.S. public schools come from low-income families. But together, she says, educators are making a real difference by inspiring students to find their greatness and fighting for the resources their schools need.

“Schools are ecological systems and children are at the center. We must be united—whole school, whole community—to do whatever it takes. All students, regardless of their zip code, deserve the support, tools, and time to learn.”

Eberhardt delivered her speech to more than 7,000 educators from every state attending the National Education Association’s 153rd Annual Meeting and 94th Representative Assembly (RA) in Orlando, Florida. The RA is the top decision-making body for NEA’s nearly 3 million members, whose charge is to set the Association’s policies for the coming year.

The National Education Association represents nearly a half-million education support professionals. ESPs make up nearly one-third of the total education workforce and include school and university custodians, security services, food services, clerical, transportation and technical workers, as well as paraeducators. 75 percent of ESPs live in and are active in the same communities in which they work.

For more information on Education Support Professionals, please go to:
Follow @NEArESPect on Twitter for the latest school support staff news.
Follow #NEARA15 on Twitter for updates on the 2015 NEA Representative Assembly.

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Sara Robertson
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