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Vermont-NEA ESP of the Year Award

In recognition of the important role of Education Support Professionals within the Association, and to honor their outstanding contributions to communities and children, Vermont-NEA presents an annual Education Support Professionals Award.
Click here to submit a nomination for the 2025 award.

Our 2024 ESP of the Year is Carmel Quinn!

Carmel Quinn

Carmel Quinn, a long-time Colchester EA leader, was named the 2024 Vermont-NEA ESP of the Year. Quinn, a special education paraeducator, is a fierce advocate for her students, her peers, and her union. In the words of Colchester EA Co-President Kate Ellington, “She is a model leader and advocates for all support staff in our district, county, and state. In Colchester, she has negotiated side letters to increase pay, she has met with the board to approve additional weeks of pay over vacation weeks, she regularly meets with the Director of Special Education to be proactive about solving problems in the district. She initiated a Mentoring Program for support staff in the district to increase work performance and retention.” Quinn is now Vermont’s entry into the NEA’s ESP of the Year competition, where she will vie for the chance to be the ambassador of ESPs nationwide. And, according to former UniServ Director Sean Leach, she deserves it. “Of the hundreds of local leaders I have worked with in my 22 years of UniServ work, there is no one more deserving of national recognition as the NEA ESP of the Year than Carmel Quinn,” he wrote. “I have had the privilege of watching Carmel grow from being a good solid union member and negotiating team member in January 2018 when I became Carmel’s UniServ Director, to becoming a well-respected, knowledgeable, fearless advocate and leader for not only support staff but for all members. I wish every local association had a leader as impactful as Carmel.”

Congratulations, Carmel!

Click here to nominate an ESP for the 2025 award.

In recognition of the important role of Education Support Professionals within the Association, and to honor their outstanding contributions to communities and children, Vermont-NEA presents an annual Education Support Professionals Award.

The 1992 Vermont-NEA Representative Assembly established the annual Education Support Professional Award to recognize the importance of ESP.

Who Can Be Nominated

The person being nominated must have been a Vermont-NEA member for at least three years (including this year). Exceptions will be made if the Local Association is less than three years old. We encourage nominations from any ESP career family: Clerical Services, Custodial and Maintenance Services, Food Services, Health and Student Services, Paraeducators, Security Services, Skilled Trades, Technical Services, or Transportation Services.  

How to Nominate

The strongest nominees are members who are highly involved in their local Association and/or volunteer for Vermont-NEA or NEA in some capacity. Examples of involvement include, but are not limited to, holding elected local union leadership role(s), being involved in organizing colleagues to legally form the union, assisting fellow members in organizing to improve the workplace or advocating for employee rights. In general, the committee favors nominees who enhance the image of ESPs in the school, union and community.  Nominees also should be good employees with a strong professional record, make a continued positive impact on the school and students, and ideally, are involved in their local community.

Nominations will be accepted by submitting a simple web form. All we need is some basic information about your nominee. Nominations will be received on a rolling basis up until the end of the school yearWe will be in touch with nominees and their nominators to collect further information.

To submit a nomination online click here.

Deadline for Nominations 

Nominations will be received on a rolling basis through the end of the school year.  All nominations must be submitted online.  If you have any questions, please contact Erin Green at [email protected] or 802-224-2411.

Selection of the Winner

Nominations will be reviewed by the Vermont-NEA ESP Leadership Advisory Committee, which will make a recommendation to the Vermont-NEA Board of Directors. The Vermont-NEA Board will select the winner.

The winner will be presented a $1,000 award, will automatically become Vermont-NEA's nominee for the National Education Association ESP Award, and will receive an all expense paid trip to the NEA ESP Conference to represent Vermont as part of a team of ESPs.    

Award Presentation

The Vermont-NEA ESP Award will be presented at the annual Vermont-NEA Representative Assembly.  

Previous Winners, Vermont-NEA ESP Award

Carmel Quinn, Colchester EA, 2024

Gloria Mantagaris, Champlain Valley EA, 2023

Jim Johnson, Champlain Valley EA, 2022

Nikki Hall, Maple Run EA, 2021

Cheryl Hanley, Blue Mountain EA, 2020

Pat Thompson, Maple Run EA, 2019

Joan Savaglio, Green Mountain-NEA, 2018

Loretta Johnson, Rutland Northeast Education Association-Paraeducators and Bus Drivers Unit, 2017 

Fran Brennan, Chittenden South Education Association, 2016

Chris Halpin, Essex Jct. Westford Education Association, 2015

Christie Thereault, Windham Southeast Education Association, 2014

Tara Gauding, South Burlington Education Association, 2013

Hannah Van Loon, Windham Southeast Education Association, 2012

Darcey Fletcher, Lamoille Union High School EA, 2011

Donna Constant, Paraeducator, Washington West EA 2010

Jan Thibeault, Paraeducator, Essex North EA 2009

Rebecca Auger, Paraeducator, Woodstock Union HS SSO, 2008

Laurel Tobiason, Paraeducator, Twinfield SSA 2007

Linda Howard, Paraeducator, Twinfield SSA 2006

Regina Sears, Paraeducator, Rutland School EA 2005

Betsy Howard, Paraeducator, Woodstock Union HS SSO 2004

Beverly Klandl, Class Assistant, Chittenden South EA 2003

Carolyn Godbout, Paraeducator, Rutland School SA 2002


The Union of Vermont Educators

The Vermont-National Education Association is the union of Vermont educators, 13,000 professionals who teach the state's children every day. As the state's largest union, Vermont-NEA is proud to represent the people who make a difference in the lives of students in classrooms across Vermont.