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Alaska Paraeducator Wins “Recognizing Inspiring School Employees” (RISE) Award, To Be Honored at Ceremony in Washington D.C.

Award winner will join school staff from across the nation for May 9 ceremony

WASHINGTON - May 09, 2018 -

Sherry Shaw, an Alaska paraeducator and NEA’s 2018 Education Support Professional (ESP) of the year, will be honored in Washington D.C. as one of the 2018 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award winners. Five award-winners from across the country are being honored for making extraordinary and inspirational contributions in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.

Shaw and the other award recipients will join guests at a ceremony in Washington D.C. at the Rayburn House Office Building. Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada will also be honored with a RISE Honorary Award for their work in supporting educators.

“Sherry has been a guiding force, a tireless advocate and one of the great champions of our Education Support Professionals,” said NEA Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss. “For well over a decade, she has nurtured and cared for the students at Tanaina Elementary School like they were her own. Yes, I am proud of her accomplishments, but I am even more proud of her unrelenting commitment to our students and her belief that every student and every child has the ability and right to learn.”

For 13 years, Shaw has been a special education paraeducator, working closely with teachers to prepare materials, modify curriculum, and work one-on-one and in small groups with special education students, as well as aid in the students’ socialization and behavior management. In general, paraeducators assist with classroom instruction and provide direct services to students and their parents. Throughout her career, Shaw has advocated for students and also championed her colleagues. In addition to her career as a special education paraeducator, Shaw has coached volleyball, basketball, cross-country running, track and field, and cross-country skiing.

“My students are at the center of my career and my life,” said Shaw. “Every day when I walk through the doors of our school I dedicate every moment I’m there showing all students love, respect and what they can do without limits. And when things do get hard--showing them how to pull out their awesomeness.”

Shaw was named the 2018 National Education Association ESP of the Year during the awards banquet March 24 at the NEA Education Support Professionals Conference in Orlando. The annual award is NEA’s highest for education support professionals.

The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU), a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees, gives the RISE award. The award highlights the individual contributions of school staff and recognizes the essential role that all education professionals play in cultivating students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn and strengthening public schools.

There are more than 2.8 million education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce. They ensure students achieve at their highest levels. They keep students fed, emotionally and physically healthy and safe, engaged and connected to the larger school community, and provide instruction and support that leads to academic success.

  • Classified education support employees work in the following nine areas:
  • Child nutrition services
  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducation (assisting with instruction, supervision, and other support)
  • Security services
  • Skilled trades
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services

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

The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU) is a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees, including clerical and administrative staff, custodians, food service workers, health and student services workers, paraeducators, technology services employees, transportation workers, and security and skilled trades staff.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,