Opinion
Education Opinion

Thank an ESP Today!

By John Wilson — November 16, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Everyone remembers a favorite teacher. And just as important, everyone also remembers a favorite education support professional. Do you remember that wonderful bus driver who greeted you every morning with a smile and made sure that you got to school safely? Do you remember the lunchroom worker who served you a nutritious meal? Do you remember the school secretary who called your parents if you were ill or provided you with kind words if you were sent to the principal’s office? Do you remember the school custodian who cleaned up after you and made sure the school was sanitary and healthy? They are all education support professionals (ESP). They are the unsung heroes of our public education system.

Today is their day. Today is Education Support Professional Day. Once a year, during American Education Week, we take time to honor these men and women who are dedicated to our students. They have made personal and economic sacrifices because of their belief in public education and the dignity in serving America’s future. We should be appreciative, and we should let them know it.

There are many ESPs that have been instrumental to my success in life, but I will only share two stories with you today. First, let me thank Andrew Cowan, who worked as a school custodian where I graduated from high school and spent my first year as a teacher. Mr. Cowan was also a minister. He knew every student’s name, and he knew when trouble was brewing and was a master in diffusing that trouble with humor, a stern look, or a listening ear. As a young teacher, he knew that I might need some extra encouragement, advice on how to handle a disruptive student, or even a key to the closet where instructional materials were kept. Mr. Cowan was a role model for all those he encountered. He was the heart of our school and he was loved by all.

Let me also thank Bobbie Johnson, my first teacher assistant. I first met Bobbie when the principal begged me to take a class of young boys who had been labeled emotionally and behaviorally challenged. Bobbie was the teacher assistant who had outlasted the revolving door of teachers. She became my confidante, my tag team partner, and my second pair of hands and eyes. She provided these troubled youngsters with the right amount of mothering and love, and she provided me with the support to redirect these challenging students to academic and social success. It was the hardest teaching assignment at the beginning and the easiest at the end. Together, we made a huge difference for these students and their parents.

ESPs are critical to a teacher’s success. They are our partners. They are our friends. Send a thank you note to your favorite ESP or to those who serve your children. Being thanked is the best gift, but I am sure they would not reject any other token of appreciation.

I hope the day will come when we can thank them with a living wage, fair benefits, and working conditions that give them the dignity and respect they deserve. After all, it’s only fair after what they do to support the education of our children.

To all education support professionals across America, thank you!

The opinions expressed in John Wilson Unleashed are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP