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California paraeducator and activist named 2015 NEA National Education Support Professional of the Year

NEW ORLEANS - March 06, 2015 -

Community relations specialist and elementary advisor Janet Eberhardt was named 2015 National Education Association Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year at an event at the annual NEA ESP Conference in New Orleans tonight. The conference, attended by more than 1,100 Education Support Professionals (ESPs) from across the country, focused on improving the organizing and leadership skills of school support staff to help meet the needs of the whole student. 

In her 29 years with the San Francisco Unified School District, Eberhardt has worked to develop programs that engage and mentor students and families.  As a union leader within the United Educators of San Francisco, Eberhardt has held multiple important leadership roles, including planning, coordinating and delivering ethnic minority leadership training for regional members. 

As a union leader and activist, Eberhardt fought hard for her ESP brothers and sisters to gain voting rights within their state association (CTA), and since then has served on a number of statewide committees. Eberhardt was also named CTA’s ESP of the Year in 2014.

She was also the recipient of the 2012 California Teachers Association State Human Rights Award, given to the single member that has done the most to improve human rights for members, students and families. In her district, Eberhardt developed several reading and student creativity programs including Literacy Plus, which brings students to the city library to unlock their love for reading. 

“Janet is an absolute dynamo,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who presented Eberhardt with the national annual award. “She is a leader on ESP training and issues, and she is also someone who helps nurture other leaders. It’s impossible to measure the impact that she has had in her work, in her passion, and in her activism.”

“First and foremost, Janet is a child advocate,” said CTA President Dean Vogel. “But she has worked tirelessly to gain equity and fairness for Education Support Professionals. She not only finds a way to get the job done, she does it with class.” 

In her acceptance speech, Eberhardt focused on the power ESPs have in the lives of their students and encouraged them to “keep on keeping on.” “I say one thing to my students every day and I say it to my fellow ESPs today: go the extra mile," which is defined differently for each student. “Each student is an individual and has different gifts. Please be bold, be strong, and help our kids to find their special gift.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García presented Eberhardt with a trophy and a $10,000 check. “I am proud to present this award to Janet Eberhardt, who makes us all want to work even harder for students and our communities,” said García. 

For more information on Education Support Professionals, please go to:

Follow @NEAMedia on Twitterr.

Follow @NEArESPect on Twitter for the latest school support staff news.   

Follow #2015ESPconf on Twitter for updates on the 2015 ESP Conference in New Orleans. 

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The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson, (202) 822-7823,


California Paraeducator Named 2015 NEA ESP of the Year

Education Support Professionals