Andrea Beeman, ESP of the Year
“I became an NEA member for one simple reason: someone at my local took the time to ask! With their mentorship, I jumped into union activism and became very involved. After serving on several committees and received scholarships to attend national and state association conferences – and going to the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly as a paraprofessional representative delegate, I was eager to become even more involved.
I successfully ran for president of my local, Maple Organization Support Team, in Maple Heights, Ohio, and immediately began to work to eliminate the sense of hopelessness many of the ESP members felt. As president, I worked hard to build relationships with my members. I wanted to cultivate an environment of solidarity and build member’s confidence. My members are now activists who have confidence and will stand up for their rights.
One of my proudest accomplishments was working to bring union solidarity and protections to our district’s food service workers. They were a classification excluded from our bargaining unit. These educators had not received a raise in eight years, their salary scale had only three steps, and they had no longevity pay or bereavement days. After having one-to-one conversations, followed by formal group discussions, we obtained authorization cards for 90 percent of the cafeteria staff and they are now members.
“Today, I’m prouder than ever to be an ESP member of NEA. As COVID-19 closes schools and grips the nation, our members have stepped up to serve our students in all capacities, doing so with courage and grace. As the 2020 ESP of the Year, it is my mission to advocate for our ESPs and give them the respect and recognition every educator deserves.”
Andrea Beeman, ESP of the Year, Special Education Paraprofessional, Maple Heights, OH