November 1, 2019 | Fairbanks Daily Newsminer | Kyrie Long

Support staff are often the unsung heroes, fixers and makers of the Fairbanks school district, but that wasn’t the case Thursday afternoon when a staff member was named statewide Education Support Professional of the Year.

Daryl Walker, electronics maintenance mechanic with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, was recognized by the state teacher’s union for his role in the district. Walker helps maintain electronics throughout the district: building fixtures, fire alarms, intercom, clocks, projectors and other systems.

“Anything that plugs into a wall is kind of what I work on,” he said.

Walker and other staff had gathered in the school district administrative building’s board room under the impression they were meeting for mandatory training. He was unaware at the time that he was about to be awarded the title of National Education Association Alaska Education Support Professional of the Year, when NEA-Alaska President Tim Parker came to the front of the room to speak.

“The ESP of the Year for the state of Alaska is in the room,” Parker said. “This person has done a fantastic job, is recognized by their peers throughout the state as someone who is excellent at what they do and works well with others.”

As Parker began dropping hints, mentioning a recent election, Walker realized what was happening.

“Towards the end it was kind of obvious. I’d been the only one who received a seat as a new member on NEA recently,” Walker said after the announcement.

As Parker asked if anyone knew who the recipient was, the room applauded and turned to face their co-worker. Walker said the announcement made him feel shy, but he moved to the front of the room as he was gestured to and stood beside Parker.

“Please help me welcome and celebrate the ESP of the Year, Daryl Walker,” Parker said, before handing the mic to Education Support Staff Association President Jasmine Adkins-Brown.

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