ESP Insider Update

Elevating ESPs

From your ESP Council chair…
A message from Jill Scarcelli
IEA-backed FMLA expansion bill passes Senate
Read the IEA news release.
 6 Ways to Celebrate at the End of a Project | PBLWorks
SCORE grants
Up to $1,000 SCORE grants available – All IEA members are encouraged to apply! Visit for more information, examples of past projects and instructions on how to apply.
The next application deadline is July 15.
Congratulations ESP STARS!

Joan Schultz is a teacher associate at Troy Shorewood in School District Troy 30c and has worked at Troy for almost 20 years. She is a member of the Troy Education Association in IEA Region 51. Schultz goes above and beyond the duties of her job. She plans lessons with small groups, reads aloud to students, shares in class discussions. This year while going remote, she took personal time to record all our 4th grade books so our struggling remote readers could listen to her read. Schultz is an outstanding coworker and friend. She truly is a STAR!! Congratulations, Joan!

Claudia Boyd is the school secretary at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Elementary School District #159. She is a member of IEA local #159 Support Staff Association in IEA Region 26. In addition to performing her job at an exemplary level, Boyd demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to each and every student at Neil Armstrong Elementary School as well as to our teachers, parents and the school community.

Boyd takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to new students, teachers and staff. She discerns quickly their individual needs, and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations or direction. “Mrs. Boyd is a wonderful ambassador for our school…in assisting teachers, students and staff, and in greeting visitors and guests. If she did not exist, we would try to invent her,” said one fellow staff member.

Fondly known as the “go-to” person for most things at our school, Mrs. Boyd receives calls daily from offices throughout the district, students and parents who call upon her experience and know-how for information and advice. She is helpful, caring, resourceful and happy to offer service no matter the task. She often performs above and beyond expectations and is a true champion for education with a tireless commitment to serving our school.

Boyd has truly made a difference at Neil Armstrong Elementary School, exemplified the mission of Elementary School District 159 and positively impacted our entire school community. Her skills, knowledge, willingness to help others and dedication to our school and the community make her our much deserving nominee for the ESP STAR Award! Congratulations, Mrs. Boyd!

John Kennel is a paraprofessional at Markham Park Elementary in the Prairie-Hills ESD #144 school district and a big help to the Markham Park community. He is a member of IEA Local Association SPA in Region 56. 

Kennell has really stepped up to get things done at work. Whether he’s helping students, watching Pre-K while they take a nap, or being the unofficial crossing guard at dismissal,  he has gone above and beyond what a paraprofessional job description entails. He pulls groups together for both reading and math, which most paras don’t do because of limitations of the job that paras can do. He has become a champion in handling parents and grandparents who are computer challenged or in calming a room filled with a group of anxious kindergarteners. Kennell is so good at his job that in July he’ll be leaving the paraprofessional world to move up and on into the world of human resources. Congratulations and best wishes in HR! You will be missed. 

Jane Gunder has worked as a bus driver for many years in Troy School District 30C. She is a member of the IEA local Troy Education Association in Region 51. Gunder goes out of her way to connect with her students and their families. She communicates with the staff on how a student is doing on their way to the school, if they are sad, worried or tired. This information is always helpful. Gunder is always cheerful and fun to be around. We salute Jane Gunder our ESP STAR nominee for May 2021. Congratulations, Jane!

Toni Lofton-Warren is the supervisor of food service at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in School District #159. She is a member of IEA local 159 Support Staff Association in Region 26. What constitutes an ESP STAR? For me, an ESP STAR is someone who does something without thinking of themselves. It is someone who jumps at the opportunity to help others without question, not for rewards or accolades, but because it is the right thing to do. It is someone who is a role model and makes a difference in our school community. Lofton-Warren truly exemplifies what an ESP STAR is and should be!

I have had the pleasure of working with Lofton-Warren for the past five years and there is not a day that goes by that she is not happy to be at Neil Armstrong Elementary School. She is always willing to do anything for anyone and help wherever and whenever needed. One of her best qualities is that she is so patient and giving of her time. I know she would not ask anyone to do a task that she is not willing to do herself. Congratulations, Mrs. Lofton-Warren!

Brittany Lee is an ESP paraprofessional at Markham Park Elementary School in the Prairie-Hills ESD3144. She is a wonderful co-worker. She is a member of the IEA local education association SPA in Region 56. 

Lee is very patient, whether it’s helping a Pre-K student, first grader or a confused parent. When school started back in August, Lee worked with two other paras to pass out technology to parents as remote learning rolled out. She handled the situation with a quiet calm. Lee doesn’t say much, but her calm, quiet way helps not only students, but teachers as well. Lee pulls small groups together to help the little ones with their reading and she works with the media specialist during the students’ library time. Lee always has a smile on her face and a funny way of handling students when they try to get out of line. Students gravitate to her and always call her name whenever she enters a room or is walking down the hall. Congratulations, Brittany!

Laura Unruh is a teaching assistant at Troy Middle School in Troy 30c school district. She is a member of the Troy Education Association (TEA) in IEA Service Area M. 

Unruh is ALWAYS willing to jump in wherever she is needed. She has worn so many hats in this building that she has become the “go to girl” for any problems or projects. Working with all grades and learning levels in this building, Unruh knows how to get through to “her kids”. She also interacts with the kids in afterschool programs like Perfect Pals and Running Club. These kids know Mrs. Unruh is on their side. Teachers know they can show or tell her what needs to be done and it will get done correctly and efficiently. She always has the best interest of the kids in everything she does. Congratulations, Mrs. Unruh!

Angie Bithos has been working for the past four years as a teacher’s associate at Troy Shorewood Elementary, in the Troy 30c school district and is a former student in the Troy 30c school district. She is a member of the TEA local education association in IEA Region 51. Bithos is actively engaged in our local association and attends monthly meetings and always volunteers to help when it is needed.

Bithos develops great relationships among the staff and especially the students she works with. She volunteers her time to participate in after school activities and is always eager to assist where and when needed. She is one of the hardest working teacher associates I have ever worked with. She constantly is working with students, helping teachers, and is eager to learn new teaching methods. She exhibits a genuine love for students and the school community. Bithos is a perfect example of a hardworking and trustworthy ESP and enhances the image of the education support professional in the Troy association. The staff and students are so lucky to have her in our building! Congratulations, Angie!

Sara Moeller is a transition paraeducator in South Elgin High School in School District U-46. She is a member of IEA Local DUEA in Region 63.

Moeller is a respected, caring member and her kindness and dedication is evident in her interactions with students and staff. In her role as DUEA president, Moeller collaborates effectively with district administrators. She is a skilled communicator and can remain calm while assuring all voices and opinions are heard. She encourages DUEA membership in their growth and identifies leaders.

Moeller promoted the Fox River Valley Initiative to provide affordable housing when they were seeking approval from the city of Elgin. She, DUEA leadership and members attended meetings to support this endeavor. Our students and DUEA members would benefit from this project.

In addition to her responsibilities, Moeller served on the district’s “Return to School” committee, putting in more than 100 hours between July and September 2020. Her involvement made sure that DUEA’s voice was heard. Moeller continued this work through April, helping to ensure a smooth transition to full-time learning. She also led the way to secure technology devices to support students in all DUEA bargaining positions with remote learning. Moeller worked collaboratively with our DUEA vice president, human resources, administration and legal to remove barriers in supporting students. Our students and paraprofessionals have benefited from her leadership, dedication, professionalism and guidance. As we begin our journey into bargaining, DUEA is fortunate to have Moeller as our local president and leader. A heartfelt thank you for all that you do! Congratulations, Sara Moeller!

Stay connected with other ESPs
IEA ESP Council website IEA ESP website
ESP Professional Caucus on Facebook
ESP Connections on Facebook
Join the NEA ESP Facebook group
Follow @NEArESPect on Twitter
Get involved with the National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP)
Tell us what’s happing – we want to know!
Send us your ESP news stories and photos using the ESP Insider Reporter form.
Other news for ESPs

Do you need help with your internet bill?
Learn more about the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program. Additional information about the EBB Program is available in this Overview ModuleInfo sheet – English   |   Info sheet – Spanish 
Student loan debt forgiveness
As a public school employee, you are eligible for student loan debt forgiveness! This means yours, and/or your children’s student loans may be forgiven. Visit the IEA Degrees Not Debt page for more information. 
I am currently in this program! It really works!! ” –Jill Scarcelli
ESPs – Supporting our own through peer mentoring
Learn more on NEA’s website. Application deadline is 8 a.m on June 7.
Huntley ESP Association members
Driven to drive: Del Webb residents find freedom and reward at the helm of a school bus
Calendar of events
June 12: Virtual ESP Council meeting, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
June 17:  NEA webinar for ESPs, JuneteenthTaking Time to Unravel Unconscious Biases, A case study from Washington State, 6 p.m. Register now!
June 30 – July 3: Virtual NEA Representative Assembly (RA). More information will be available soon at
July 19-22 and July 26-29: Virtual Summer Leadership Academy (SLA)
Oct. 1-2: Virtual One Conference
Nov. 5-7: Ethic Minority & Emerging Leadership Training (EMELT)
Member benefits
Check out IEA’s Member Center to see all the benefits you are entitled to as an IEA member.

If you have questions about your benefits or anything else IEA, contact our IEA Connect call center at 844-IEA-1800, through “Chat With Us!” at or by email at, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
 We are here for you!