Saul Ramos, an MTA member who is a one-to-one paraeducator and Braillist in the Worcester Public Schools, has been named the National Education Association’s 2017 Education Support Professional of the Year.
Ramos — an advocate for students, a champion for ESP colleagues and an educator for 18 years — received the honor on Saturday, March 11, at the NEA ESP Conference in Dallas.
“NEA applauds Saul and his commitment to helping students succeed in the classroom, in school and in the community,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who called Ramos “a shining example” and noted that ESPs work tirelessly to make public schools great for every student.
MTA President Barbara Madeloni nominated Ramos for the award. She said she finds it gratifying that Ramos will now have the chance to advocate for all education support professionals across the nation.
“I admire Saul and am inspired by his dedication and thoughtfulness,” Madeloni said. “He is looked up to as an educational leader for his commitment to his field, as well as his expertise. He is in fact the symbol of just how essential ESPs are to meeting the needs of the whole student.”
As 2017 national ESP of the Year, Ramos will represent the NEA and ESPs at national education conferences, media events and other community occasions. He also will deliver a speech this summer at the NEA Representative Assembly in Boston.
“When I first walked into a classroom 18 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be recognized for the work I am so passionate about,” said Ramos, who serves as first vice president of the Educational Association of Worcester and works at Burncoat High School. “Having that first encounter with my first students, and seeing the difference I can make in their lives, made me realize that this is my mission in life.”
Massachusetts ESPs work throughout the public education system, in higher education as well as in schools. They serve the needs of students in diverse ways, dedicating their lives to their schools, colleges and communities.
Nationally, education support professionals make up more than one-third of all public school employees. They have unique and critical roles in helping ensure that all students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.
More than 900 ESPs and other educators attended NEA’s 26th annual three-day ESP Conference, and a large crowd was on hand to see Ramos honored. The theme of the conference was “Uniting, Inspiring and Leading for the Whole Student.”