California Educator

April 2017

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T E R I R O O T S is on a mission to make sure education support professionals have a voice and get the recognition they deserve. To that end, the vivacious president of the Ventura Educational Support Professionals Association (VESPA) tirelessly advocates for her members, impressing upon her district and community how essential ESPs are in nurturing the whole child. "We work with kids and have an impact on them in some way," Roots says, "from human kindness to showing you're there for them no matter what, such as the school bus driver who is often the first and last person kids see every day." Roots, who is the Paula J. Monroe CTA Education Support Professional of the Year and was honored by President Eric Heins at the March State Council meeting, also understands the importance of training and grooming new leaders among VESPA members. Every year, she sends members to CTA's ESP Academy, NEA's ESP Conference, and other leadership conferences and workshops. To ensure that their conference experience is suc- cessful, Roots travels, eats and attends sessions with them. She uses the group time to plan how to share and implement the new ideas they've heard. In addition to learning new skills and expanding their networks, members "have made a connection, and get more involved in the union," Roots says. Plus, the conferences "give them a taste of what's out there, give them ideas." Member engagement and connection is key. Roots, who has been VESPA president for 10 years, asks her directors to reach out to every member at least once a year — an effort to listen to and understand their needs. In fact, of the nearly 800 ESPs served by VESPA, only four are not members. "Sometimes it's just having a conversation," she says. "You really need to get out there and talk to people directly, to hit every member with a one-on-one." Roots and VESPA have a close relationship with the Ventura Unified Education Association. She and VUEA President Chip Fraser have int er viewed can- didat es for th e school board , with VESPA making equal rec- ommendations. They 've taken s c h o o l b o a r d m e m b e r s t o breakfast together. The locals jointly held a community town hall meeting. Community is also key. A recent event that engaged both members and community was "Pillows for Pediatrics." During the holiday season a member sewed donated fabric into pil- lowcases, with tags that said " With love from VESPA." Pillows enclosed in the pillowcases were then delivered to pediatric wards in local hospitals. Kids are a special focus for Roots. When she has downtime, she can usually be found with her granddaughters, ages 2 and 7, at Disneyland, a water park or a beach, with her husband in tow. She has raised three children. Bu t f re e t i m e i s s c a rc e . At C TA S t a t e C o u n c i l , R o o t s i s on th e E SP Issu e s Adv i s or y C ommitt e e, w hich make s re c- ommendations to the Board of D irectors to strengthen the ri g hts and rol e s of E SPs. S h e has al s o ser ved as NE A E SP- at-Large. Because of this experience, she thinks all ESPs are concerned about the same issues. "We always seem to be the first people who lose hours, days, positions," Roots says. "We are furthest away from classroom. It's a conversation I'm constantly having with the district. My board tries hard to show the district how important it is to have us. I tell members, 'Bring your A game, be professional and confident, and do the best job you possibly can. Show 'em what you've got.' " Teri Roots has showed us what she's got, and we're in awe. Congratulations! " I tell members, 'Bring your A game, be professional and confident, and do the best job you possibly can. Show 'em what you've got.' " Teri Roots Is CTA's 2017 ESP of the Year Honor Education Support Professionals Education Support Professionals Week is May 21-27; CTA ESP Day is Tuesday, May 23. It's a time to recognize the contribu- tions of ESPs — equal and essential partners in our students' public education. See for resources and ideas. Game She's Got 43 April 2017

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