WEAC launches major effort to promote, support Education Support Professionals

ESP_VoiceWEAC is launching a major effort this year to raise awareness about the value of Education Support Professionals in Wisconsin public schools. The multi-year campaign is designed to demonstrate appreciation for the critical role ESP play in schools, and to support them in developing their skills, with the ultimate goal of further helping children succeed.

Education Support Professionals are the wide range of school staff who team with teachers for student success. They work in roles such as clerical services, custodial and maintenance services, food services, health and student services, paraeducators, security services and transportation services. Wisconsin’s effort will connect support professionals across school districts to promote professionalism and offer opportunities for professional growth.

“Support professionals have a direct impact on student learning,” said Arlene Braden, a high school secretary and secretary-treasurer of WEAC, who is leading the effort. “We’re excited to lead efforts to recognize their important role and offer opportunities so they have even a more profound impact on students.”

The stated goal of the campaign is to “Give voice to Education Support Professionals to build leaders, elevate them professionally, bring them together in new ways, and reconnect them to the union – all of which impacts student success.”

A cornerstone of the campaign will be to identify ESP Ambassadors in regions throughout the state. One of their first tasks will be to talk to their ESP colleagues and gather information such as:

  • How do ESPs perceive their work in Wisconsin Public Schools today?
  • How has their work changed in recent years, and what changes do they expect are yet to come?
  • What professional supports do they need?
  • How do ESPs perceive WEAC?
  • What do they think it will take to recruit ESP members into the union?

The project has four components:

  • Establish a Design Team comprised of experienced WEAC ESP leaders to develop, lead and evaluate the project.
  • Select ESP Ambassadors who will work with ESP leaders and members of local associations in their regions to listen, advise and support. (If you are interested in being an ESP Ambassador, please contact communications@weac.org.)
  • Collect data to inform efforts to design and evaluate the project.
  • Promote the value of ESPs in educating the whole child through internal/external campaigns.

The project is funded in part through a grant from the National Education Education Great Schools Fund. It is aligned with WEAC’s Strategic Plan as one of three key areas of work. Along with the WEAC Values ESP project, WEAC has identified the New Educator Outreach Program and Development of Strong Locals in its strategic focus.

Members of the ESP Design Team are:

  • Lynn Goss, Region 1
  • Sue Schemberger, Region 2
  • Sue Smits, Region 3
  • Kay Hansen, Region 3
  • Kim Floeter, Region 5
  • Denise Plantenberg, Region 6
  • Gail Kablau, Region 7
  • Sequanna Taylor, MTEA
  • Crystal Ealy, MTEA
  • Jeanine Ferguson, Kenosha
  • Gwen Shaw-Scott, Racine
  • Arlene Braden, WEAC Secretary/Treasurer

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