Education Support Professionals

Education support professionals (ESPs) – paraprofessionals, food service workers, nurses, aides, technicians, custodians, administrative assistants and so many other professionals – keep our schools running and our students learning. ESPs keep students physically and emotionally healthy and safe, engage students so they feel connected to their school community, and support students who require extra assistance.

Unfortunately when school districts make budget cuts, ESPs are some of the first positions targeted. Learn more about this and other issues ESPs face nationally on the National Education Association’s (NEA) webpage for ESPs.

NEA ESP Professional Growth Continuum

ESPs play a key role in ensuring student success, and their positive impact can be enhanced when there are clear expectations, when they are valued, and when they have opportunities for professional growth. To help ESPs reach their professional potential, NEA developed the ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC) through participatory action research and with the active involvement of ESPs and other stakeholders. The PGC provides clear pathways for professional learning and growth throughout the careers of ESPs. Check out the NEA website here for more information and resources on the ESP Professional Growth Continuum.

General Resources

The NEA Foundation’s Innovation Grants provide an opportunity for teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty to develop and implement innovations that significantly improve student learning. Eligible applicants may submit a proposal at any time.

NEA hosts an ESP Conference that is designed to provide participants with the tools they need to build skills specific to their careers, build strong internal and external relationships, build stronger locals, organize members and enhance their ability to positively influence student achievement.

Education Support ProfessionalsThe NEA Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) program was created to train future ESP leaders in leadership attitudes, skills, and knowledge. The overarching goal is to develop skilled ESP leaders across the 50 states. Each year 20 ESP members are selected to participate in the program through an extremely competitive process.

NEA Academy provides online courses to meet professional development and continuing education needs of all NEA members.

The National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP) works within the National Education Association to represent the specific interests of education support professionals. Any NEA ESP member is eligible for NCESP membership.

Resume Writing for ESPs: Learn how to market your skills through writing. This site provides writing tips for professionals that can generate more interviews and higher salaries. Resume writing books and websites are also listed.

Resources By Profession

What Does the School Secretary Do? This article dives into the reality that “at most schools, the secretary is a key player in communicating with parents and community members about what’s happening at school.”

National Association of Educational Office Professionals: The association offers information on professional development, leadership, and training opportunities for education employees. A specifically designed certification program is featured.

Conducting a Security Evaluation – National Association of Independent Schools: Learn what maintenance staff and other ESP can do to help keep school buildings and parking lots safe from hostile intruders, student vandals, and others.
ESPs are on the frontline of making sure each student has access to a healthy and nutritious school meal. Check out this list of national grants to improve the food served at your school:

A movement to provide healthy, locally-sourced food from Alaskans to Alaskan school children is taking off across our state! Learn more about how your school can get involved at

Food and Nutrition Information Center: more than 40 journals, newsletters, and electronic publications are featured. Articles cover health and dieting, medical news, and nutrition.

Food and Nutrition Dietary Guidelines: read current and historical information on dietary guidelines for Americans, discover links to many MyPlate resources, gain access to interactive tools and more.

National School Lunch Program: every aspect of this federally assisted meal program is explained. From menu planning and after-school snacks, to food distribution programs and the preparation of nutritionally balanced meals.

National Association of School Nurses: From the organization that calls itself the “voice of expert information on school health” comes information on school health programs, health services, and news about school nursing.
American Association of School Librarians: This site offers information on how to access online learning courses designed to make school librarians a leader in their school community, learning standards and program guidelines that define the future direction of school library programs and much more.
Looking for high-quality training and regularly updated information as a paraeducator? Visit and be sure to check out their resources featuring a website of the month.

NRCP: The National Resource Center for Paraeducators holds a yearly conference and sends out regular newsletters to help you stay up to date on the latest Para news.

The National Association of School Resource Officers: This non-profit organization for school based law enforcement officers, school administrators, and school security/safety professionals works to protect students, school faculty and staff. Featured concepts and programs are adaptable to most schools.

International Society for Technology in Education: This nonprofit organization strives to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in K-12 education. Browse this site for information, networking opportunities, and guidance regarding incorporating computers, the Internet, and other new technologies into schools.


Join the conversation!

Connect with other ESPs from around the state and nation on issues you care about on edCommunities.

Anti-Bullying Resources

ESPs are among the first line of defense in the fight against school bullying. Learn more about NEA’s campaign against bullying, “Bully Free, It Starts With Me,” which is signing up caring adults who pledge to help bullied students and to take action to stop bullying.

NEA anti-bullying resources for specific professions: