UCPS support staff honored in 3rd annual reception
Bus drivers, custodians, maintenance personnel, teacher assistants and office staff were the guests of honor Thursday during an appreciation reception held in their honor.
The third annual Educator Support Professional Appreciation Night, held Thursday (Nov. 15, 2012) at Central Academy of Technology and Arts, was given in conjunction with American Education Week to honor Essential School Personnel (ESP).
“There are about 2,000 ESPs in the county,” said Deanie Griffin, president of Union County Association of Educators (UCAE). “I don't think school would run efficiently or effectively without these people. In elementary school, the kids don't drive so you have to have someone to get them to school. The bus drivers are there to do that. The cafeteria workers are important because the food they serve may be the only hot meal that student gets during the day. The teacher assistants are the right hands of the teachers. They pretty much do everything a classroomteacher does, they just don’t get paid as much.”
About 100 ESPs came during the drop-in reception held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the school’s media center. “This is great,” said bus driver Dave Edwards, who transports students to CATA and Rea View Elementary. “We all need to get together and have better communication. That way, we can better understand what each other does.”
UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis told those in attendance that she appreciated the importance of their roles and thanked them for their service.
“Each of us in this world has a place and a reason,” Ellis said. “Where ever we are planted, we need to bloom. I was a bus driver for the Union County Public Schools. I understand the need for children to get to school safely. If they don’t get to school safely, teachers can’t teach them. I also understand the importance of clean schools. How much learning will there be if the schools are not clean? It takes each of us and our niche to make a whole. The hole is neither round nor symmetrical if the parts are missing. If we remember that the main thing is children, and we all do our parts, what a tremendous success there will be.”
UCPS Board of Education member David Scholl also came to show his support of ESP staff. “I believe we’ve got to thank our workers, our staff for the good work they do. Just getting a pay check is not enough. We have to let them know we appreciate the work they’re doing, and say, ‘Thank you.’ ”
Kensington Elementary School principal Dr. Rachel Clarke was one of many principals and school administrators who attended the reception. “All these support staff are so important to our schools,” she said. “They don’t get paid enough. I can’t begin to do my job; I can’t begin to educate these kids if I don’t have all these people here. They just don’t get the attention and appreciation they deserve. I’m glad tonight we can celebrate them and show them our appreciation.”
The annual reception is co-sponsored by UCAE and the Union County Public Schools system. “They just need to know that we appreciate them and the schools can not run without them,” Griffin said.
• This article was written by Deb Coates Bledsoe, Union County Public Schools Communications Coordinator and provided courtesy of the UCPSCommunications Office.