ESP Insider Update

Elevating ESPs

IEA Education Support Professionals


Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
We have nearly made it to the holiday break. So far, this school year has been like nothing we’ve seen before. For many ESPs, this has been a year filled with stress, fear and uncertainty. It has also been a year of new discoveries and challenges. Whether you have been working from within the school building or remotely, I’m sure of one thing – you are making a difference in the lives of your students, parents, colleagues and district. 

I wish you health, peace and love this holiday and new year. 

Jill Scarcelli
IEA ESP Council Chair

COVID-19 survey for ESPs

During the pandemic ESPs have been faced with many challenges. As we continue to advocate for ESP members, please take a few minutes to let us know how COVID-19 has impacted you. Take the survey >>
December ESP STARS★
Deb Jenssen (left) is a program assistant at Winston School in CCSD 15 and a member of ESPA in Region 42. 
Deb has been a special education program assistant for more than 20 years and is an amazing ESP to work with. Her students are her priority and you can see it in everything she does. Deb has the ability to de-escalate a dysregulated student by using humor and empathy and makes every student feel safe and cared for.

Deb is an important part of any team. She takes the initiative to make word boards and file folders for all of her students. Her fellow union members are a very close second on her list of priorities. When her district was going through tough times, Deb made sure to check in on her colleagues. She was there for them by getting out information, but more importantly, with her unconditional support. As a building rep, she continues to show that support for her fellow ESPs. Deb is dedicated, compassionate and a true leader. It’s an honor to nominate her for the ESP STAR Award. Congratulations, Deb Jenssen!

★ Lisa Dulski (right) is an interventionist at Troy Cronin in the Troy 30-C School District and a member of the Troy Education Association in IEA Service Area M. 
Lisa has been instrumental in working with her local. She is an active member, serving as a building rep, and has been a member of the bargaining team. Lisa attended the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) several times and most recently worked to bring an ESP mentoring program to the Troy school district.

In January, Lisa and the association secretary attended an NEA training in Washington, D.C. They met with other ESPs from around the country to collaborate, strategize and then create a formal plan for implementing the program in the district. She is an asset to our local and to our school district. I am proud to know and nominate Lisa Duski for an ESP Star award. Congratulations, Lisa Dulski!

ESP awards, scholarships, and grants

2021 ESP of the Year
Nominations due FRIDAY, Dec. 18.
This award is meant to emphasize the contributions of education support professionals to their schools, their associations and their communities. Only online nomination forms will be accepted.

2022 NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence
Nominations due FRIDAY, Dec. 18.
Do you know an exceptional educator who deserves recognition? Now is your chance to nominate them. We’re looking for candidates who are innovative, sensitive to diversity, engaged with their community, dedicated to professional development and advocates for the profession. Criteria guidelines. For additional information, reach out to Courtney Gillespie.

Nominate a special ESP with the online nomination form. Nominations can be submitted monthly.

Applications due Jan. 18.
Grants for up to $1,000 are available for all IEA members and their local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service or school projects. For project ideas and to apply online, visit the IEA SCORE webpage today!

$2,500 Burroughs Education Scholarship
Applications due Jan. 31.
This scholarship opportunity is available for college bound seniors with a parent or legal guardian who is a school employee. Apply online by Jan. 31. Download and share this flier.

Contest for fifth and sixth grade Illinois students
Entries due Feb. 1.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is pleased to announce the 2021 Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest. This year’s contest theme is: Fight Food Waste: Our environment can’t be replaced! Visit the contest website for additional information.
IEA Learning Portal
Check out the ESP Empowerment Roundtable recording as well as other amazing webinars created especially for ESPs! Visit the Learning Portal today! Members Only login required.

Professional development opportunities
IEA Teaching and Learning has developed a special edition of the PD newsletter focusing on educator well-being. The newsletter provides learning opportunities and resources to help combat the negative effects of stress and improve overall well-being. Courses and book study begin Jan. 4.

IEA Press Release: 
Education unions call on the Illinois State Board of Education to postpone standardized testing

Public education is in the biggest crisis of our lifetime
The IEA is fighting for you, your students and your community.
Watch our new video: IEA Fights Back

Safe Schools for All!
We’re calling on the Illinois state legislature to get to work and pass valuable COVID-19 measures to protect our students and our schools. If you haven’t already done so, please take action and email your lawmakers! Simply go to our Action Network page, enter your name and return address, click the Start Writing button and an email message with your lawmakers’ email addresses already populated will be ready to send. It’s that easy!

TEDt alk: Education Evolution by PJ Caposey
PJ Caposey is a leader in the education space and a four-time cancer survivor. In the midst of the pandemic, his creative mind used his dual experiences with education and healthcare to determine a framework for education evolution. Listen to PJ’s inspiring talk.

IEA spring governance election
Nominations will open the first week of January and close Feb. 17, 2021. Watch your email for open positions and more information.

Other news

Virtual events for ESPs
TOMORROW, Dec. 17: NEA ESP webinar, 7-8:15 p.m. EST
Institutional Racism and Policing: Impact on ESPs

Jan. 16: Virtual ESP Empowerment Roundtable, 10-11:30 a.m.
More info coming soon! Visit for updates.

Feb. 16: Virtual ESP Council meeting, 6:30-8 p.m.

Mar. 11-13: Virtual IEA Representative Assembly (RA)

Mar. 19-21: NEA ESP Conference

Registration opens in February. Visit NEA’s ESP conference webpage for information.Call for presenters: The deadline for session proposals is FRIDAY, Dec.18. All interested presenters MUST submit their proposals via this online form.Questions? Contact us at Join the “ESP Conference” group on NEA edCommunities to connect with participants online.

ESP leadership training opportunity

The IEA-NEA ESP Emerging Leaders Academy (ESP-ELA) is a partnership between the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and the National Education Association (NEA) to provide a state based ESP Leadership Institute (formerly ESP Leaders for Tomorrow) for IEA ESP members. The ESP-ELA is designed to provide leadership training and support for IEA’s emerging ESP leaders. Currently, the training is 100 percent remote, until such time that we can meet in person. For more information, email Crystal Bush or call her at 847-794-5204.

The application deadline has been extended to Feb. 14. Apply now!

WANTED: Trainers for Emerging Leaders Academy
Trainers are accepted year-round as they tend to come and go, depending on their leadership roles and commitments.Trainers should have some leadership experience.There is no need for the academy application to be completed.For additional information, email Crystal Bush or call her at 847-794-5204.

Stay connected with other ESPs

Member benefits

IEA Connect is here to help!
If you have questions about your benefits or need help accessing them, contact IEA Connect by email, live chat or call 844-IEA-1800, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

We are all trying to stretch our dollars. Did you know IEA and NEA have great ways to earn back your dues dollars? Visit the IEA and NEA member benefit websites to find tons of ways to save money, today!IEA Members BenefitsNEA Member BenefitsMembership has its rewards!Discounts on your cellular bill-AT&T 15%, Verizon 18%Hotels, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, automotive….Educators Liability Insurance (EEL)Professional developmentAnd so much more!!
Access (an IEA partner) is more than a great member benefit – it is a convenient, fun way for members to find great deals on everything from groceries and take-out restaurants to clothing and electronics. Get the FREE MyDeals mobile app:•  App Store•  GooglePlay