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Member Stories

Meet Our ESPs

The Education Support Professionals
Published: March 2024

Rick Morgan is the first person to arrive at Dena’ina Elementary School and the last person to leave at night. Every morning, Rick unlocks the school’s doors and readies the building for students, teachers and staff. He’s well known for dishing out high-fives and encouraging words to students while he works to provide them with a safe and clean learning environment. Each evening, after the students and faculty have all gone home, Rick shuts off the lights and locks the building.

Rick is part of a team of education support professionals, or ESPs, who create successful learning environments for students. Whether it’s the secretaries who are first to greet visiting parents or the cashiers handing out oranges at lunch, ESPs are the glue that keeps our schools running well.

While teachers typically work with dozens of students in their classrooms, ESPs usually interact with students individually. Tutor advisor Yahaira Gomez spends hours every day working one-on-one with students, helping them to meet their academic goals and improve their performance in challenging subject areas. This support helps teachers focus on their classrooms and provides students the chance to succeed.

When adults look back on their own experiences as students, they often remember the lasting impressions of ESPs who worked in their schools. This is because ESPs forge unique connections with students and make meaningful contributions to their education.

“I have a close relationship with teachers,” said Yahaira. “They ask me for a lot of input on students just because I have that extra one-on-one time with them every day.”

“Education support professionals know students differently, especially if they’re working with them individually,” said Dena’ina Elementary Principal Andrea Everett. “They can have an even greater impact because they can build those really positive relationships with kids.”

Whether they’re replacing the lightbulbs in the gymnasium, providing healthy lunches to students, or helping a parent volunteer find the right classroom, ESPs are the unsung heroes of our public schools.

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