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Text Excerpts from ESP of the Year Speech at 2011 RA

North Carolina bus driver and teacher assistant, E. Jameel Williams addresses the 2011 Representative Assembly in Chicago, Il., July 04, 2011

"I have worked as an ESP for 23 years in the same school."

"Over the years, my job titles and duties have changed, but one thing remained the same I enjoy what I do."

"I started my career as a paraeducator working with exceptional children. Many of my students did not know how to write or even say their names, but they smiled when they saw me because they knew I cared about them."

"My current duties, I am a paraeducator and a school bus driver. I pick my students up. I teach them all day. And then I take them home."

"During my association career, I became the first ESP to serve as president of a merged local, a position I held for five years. At first, some student teacher members did not believe an ESP could lead them successfully, but I soon won their confidence."

"We must put aside our personal and petty differences based solely on job titles."

"We, the 3.2 million members of the NEA can win this war on education if we stand together. We are all in this together. First class and economy don't mean a thing if the plane is going down."

"I'm often asked by others, what does ESP mean to me, and this is my response. "E" stands for excellence. ESP's demonstrate excellence in our job to provide a quality education to our children. "S" stands for service. ESPs volunteer countless hours to our local, state and national association. And to the community we live. "P" stands for purpose. ESPs have a strong sense of purpose to serve students and advocate for professional respect, professional pay, and professional rights."