California Educator

April 2015

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Page 49 of 59

by Cynthia Menzel CTA member Janet Eberhardt is NEA's Education Support Professional of the Year I F Y O U ' V E E V E R M E T J A N E T E B E R H A R D T , you know she's a fighter for student causes, a defender of human rights, and a champion of education support professionals (ESPs). She's also funny. So the comment "This is better than winning Miss America!" after being named the 2015 National ESP of the Year is not surprising, coming from this decorated CTA leader and activist. "I never expected to win, particularly after seeing the accomplishments of the other nominees, many of whom I've admired over the years," she says. "There are so many awesome paraprofessionals in the world." "Janet is an absolute dynamo," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, who presented Eberhardt with a trophy, a bouquet of roses, and a $10,000 check at the NEA Education Support Professionals Conference in New Orleans. "She makes us all want to work even harder for students and our communities." A community relations specialist and elementary adviser in the San Francisco Unified School District, Eberhardt says she never intended to stick around for 29 years. "This position catches your soul, particularly if you have a heart for children. It helped me become the person I am today." Her job, she says, is twofold: "Addressing the needs of the student, and supporting the classroom teacher. Janet Eberhardt, who was named the 2015 National ESP of the Year, said it was "better than winning Miss America." CTA & You Member honored 48

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