MSEA Members Lead at the National ESP Conference

Uniting, Inspiring, Leading for the Whole Student

The MSEA delegation at the NEA ESP National Conference in March.

Nearly 70 MSEA members gathered with hundreds of colleagues in Dallas on March 9–12 at NEA’s ESP National Conference — Uniting, Inspiring, and Leading for the Whole Student. On the agenda were more than 50 workshops covering critical on-the-job issues and union organizing.

Massachusetts paraeducator Raul Ramos, the NEA National ESP of the Year, was honored for his work with LGBTQ issues, art advocacy, advocacy for Lati- no cultural arts, and his leader- ship role in the Massachusetts Teachers Association where he serves on several committees. He is a graduate of NEA’s Leaders for Tomorrow program, NEA’s intensive training program for ESP.

At the conference, MSEA members Toni Mejias, Prince George’s County, and Ronnie Beard, Frederick County, joined Ramos as fellow graduates of Leaders for Tomorrow.

Among just 20 selected from across the country, Beard and Mejias completed the nine-month, 91-hour Leaders for Tomorrow program and are poised to use their skills in their locals. “I plan to get more involved in social justice initiatives such as the implementation of restorative practices in our schools,” Mejias said, “and collaborating with other members and community stakeholders in fighting for the end of the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Above: Ronnie Beard, NEA Secretary–Treasurer Princess Moss, MSEA board member Joe Coughlin, Toni Mejias, and MSEA board member Debbie Schaefer. Left: MSEA’s delegation to the NEA’s 2017 ESP National Conference.

Beard is taking his skills to the bargaining table where he’ll fight for strong contract language for ESPs. “ESP are abused due to lack of training and pro- fessional development, breaks not being given, and other contract violations. We need to fight back by having our members well-read on their contract and knowing what supervisors can and cannot do.”