When you hear the phrase Education Support Professional, ESP for short, it’s difficult to imagine exactly what that person does every day and what kind of role they play in education. This catch-all term that describes many categories of workers – from teacher assistants and paraprofessionals to custodians, secretaries, and office managers – only scratches the surface of how these individuals contribute to the success of a school, a classroom, a student’s daily life.

2025 ESP of the Year

Providing support with kindness, caring, friendship, and commitment. It’s what an Education Support Professional does each day and every year we honor one among the many who exemplifies the ESP vocation.

The Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year is a member who demonstrates outstanding accomplishments and reflects the vital role ESPs play in public education.

The ESP of the Year nomination period is now open!

Nominate that favorite ESP colleague who contributes to student and school success each and every day. ESPs are the teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, office managers, administrative assistants, maintenance personnel, campus police, and technical support staff in your schools.

The nominee chosen by the NEARI selection committee will be honored at the annual ESP Dinner in November with the Gail Colburn ESP of the Year award and will be submitted to represent Rhode Island in the national NEA ESP of the Year honor.

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Nominate an ESP today!


The NEA ESP of the Year selection committee will review and score the nominations using the updated ESP of the Year award criteria outlined below.

To assist in telling a story and focus on impact (instead of simply submitting a list of accomplishments), each criterion follws the same cadence: "What action was taken, and what impact did that action have?"


*The Nominee must be an active NEA/NEARI member for at least three years as of December 31, 2024 to be eligible. Retired members are not eligible for the award. Individuals must be nominated by their state affiliate through a state ESP award program.


Deadline to submit nominations is July 19, 2024.

Nomination Form