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Springfield’s (brief) decision to bring back K-3 students is met with a lot of mixed emotions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive shift in the duties and expectations of ESPs, exacerbating feelings of underappreciation that many ESPs already feel within their working environments.
Many are experiencing anxiety, fear, and frustration with the lack of communication they receive from their district leadership.
In September, NEA partnered with Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence to host a webinar to provide social and emotional learning (SEL) techniques exclusively for Education Support Professionals. Tools and tips, such as developing self-awareness in order to recognize emotions, and nurturing a growth mindset were facilitated by Chris Cipriano, the Director of Yale’s CEI.
Over 1,500 ESPs attended the live webinar, but NEA has made it available as a recorded session. Visit the NEA Resource Library to access this and other great ESP resources!
Educators and students alike have become more involved than ever in the socio-political sphere during the past year. While several districts around the state have prohibited educators from sharing their personal opinions on political and social issues, Beaverton has set a precedent for inclusion and discourse around topics that affect both students and educators. Pride flags and Black Lives Matter signage have been specifically allowed in the district’s summary, released September 30, both in physical and virtual classrooms. As the November Elections draw close, the district has also allowed educators and students to wear clothing or accessories that endorse particular candidates, but political signage is not permitted in classrooms, virtual or otherwise. Any signs, clothing, or accessories that promote exclusion (such as “Build the Wall”) have been expressly prohibited, while other phrases like “All Lives Matter” are discouraged and the district has asked staff not to display things that contradict the inclusive message behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
A joint letter signed by OEA, Oregon State Board of Education, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA), the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA), the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts (OAESD), and the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC) announcing our shared commitment to racial justice was released on Oct. 15, 2020. OEA’s stance on Black Lives Matter can be characterized by this excerpt from the Oct. 15 letter: “We fully support Black Lives Matter as a civil rights movement that aims to combat racism and support Black individuals. We stand beside Black Lives Matter, as a statement of social justice and an affirmation of the value and worth of Black people. We can acknowledge that many people have misunderstood or been misinformed about the origin and expression that Black Lives Matter. The need to affirm the Black Lives Matter is rooted in the history and current experiences that have intentionally marginalized Black lives and bodies.”
The full letter can be viewed at www.oregoned.org/black-lives-matter.
The Oregon Teacher of the Year program has been recognizing the achievements and contributions of our state’s greatest teachers for 75 years. With the passing of House Bill 2964 in May 2019, Oregon Education Support Professionals (ESPs) are finally receiving some well-deserved recognition of their own.
Our schools would not function without the support of our instructional assistants, food service workers, transportation providers, clerical and custodial staff. The success of our students depends on their hard work and dedication to public education. At the 2017 OEA Representative Assembly, our members voted in favor of New Business Item 16, which asked that OEA research the necessary steps to create a statewide ESP award, akin to the Teacher of the Year Award. Our Government Relations team spent two years coordinating with state lawmakers to help craft a bill to accomplish this goal, which was passed unanimously by The Oregon House of Representatives last year.
The winner of the award will receive a $5,000 prize, along with opportunities for speaking engagements at statewide events.
On the official nominations launch day, ODE Director Colt Gill expressed a great appreciation for Oregon’s ESPs: “Day in and day out, online or in-person, Oregon students benefit enormously from the support and commitment of Education Support Professionals. From direct support for students to helping teachers prepare materials for lessons, ESP’s fill countless, critical roles that ensure our education systems reach every student.”
Nominations are open until January 3, 2021. To submit a nomination, visit www.oregonteacheroftheyear.org/nominate-esp/.