Delaware school districts will learn Friday, Nov. 20, who will represent the state as the 2021 Educational Support Professional of the Year.
Cape district Educational Support Professional of the Year, Shields Elementary paraeducator Chantal Smith, is one of 20 public school or charter professionals vying for the top honor in the program’s first year.
Smith has been a Shields paraeducator for nine years, seven of them in kindergarten classes, and is responsible for different duties throughout the day, including bus duty and student pickup/drop-off.
Paraeducators, custodians, secretaries, nutritional staff, and school- and district-employed bus drivers and aides were eligible for the award, which recognizes outstanding service by school employees who provide direct or indirect services to students and their families.
Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said support professionals play crucial roles in Delaware schools.
"Educational support professionals provide vital services for our students and teachers,” Bunting said. “They are the paraprofessionals who often work with our students one-on-one or in small groups to provide the individualized instructional support some students need. They are the bus drivers and aides who safely transport our children to and from school daily. They are the custodial staff and office personnel who keep our schools running each day. They are the nutrition staff workers who make sure our children have the healthy meals they need to concentrate on learning. They are the technology staff helping students access instruction in person or from home.”
Each district/charter network winner received a $1,000 personal award from the winner’s district or charter school. The state winner receives an additional $1,500 personal award from Delaware Department of Education as well as $2,500 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.