Education Support Professionals


Raising Education Support Professionals by Elevating Careers Together is a statewide effort by ESPs, with the support of IEA staff, to improve working conditions.

About ESPs

The 510,000 Educational Support Professional members of the National Education Association and the 29,500 ESP members of the Illinois Education Association take care of our children every day and make sure they have the tools they need to succeed in our schools and classrooms. We are truly the unsung heroes of public education.

ESP of the Year Award

Nominations are now open for 2025. Deadline: Dec. 15, 2024.


The ESP Council created the ESP STAR program to allow IEA local leaders, members and board of directors to recognize and publicize the good work of their ESP members across the state.

ESP Bargaining Resources

Resources related to bargaining for use by ESP Leaders.

Privatization/Subcontracting and The Law

In 2007, the Illinois Education Association achieved a major victory in providing job protection for all ESP employees. Read the exact text of Public Act 095-0241 introduced as House Bill 1347.

ESP Organizing Toolkit

Ultimately we seek to build power to make change. In this toolkit, we will cover the critical elements of organizing.

Insider Newsletter Archive

Education Support Professionals archive of the monthly email newsletter.

ESP Council

ESP Council Website

Website for the Education Support Professional Council. Visit for the latest information and updates.

ESP Council Roundtables

View the latest recorded meeting.

ESP Council List

The Education Support Professional Council consists of thirteen (13) people all of whom are ESP school employees and members of the Illinois Education Association.

Request ESP Council Members to Attend Meeting Form

Bring ESP Council members to your next meeting.  Presidents, Region Chairs, and members can now invite members of the ESP Council to your local or regional meetings by using this request form.

Professional Growth and Mentoring

ESP Skills Training

The Education Support Professional skills training workshops are targeted 30 minutes to 1 ½ hour conversations designed to help ESPs develop a specific skill or learn about an aspect of the IEA.   in order to facilitate conversations, create a brave space and provide for a unique personalized experience, the workshops will not be recorded. Each conversation will be held on ZOOM.   All ESP members and leaders are encouraged and invited to participate.

Unionism & Leadership Education

Whether you are a new member or experienced leader, IEA Unionism & Leadership Education can provide you with the skills, strategies and network needed to ensure your union experience is rewarding and successful.

These courses focus on the bread and butter work we do as union activists.   Learn how to build your personal and organizational leadership skills and equip yourself and your local with the knowledge and tools needed to be a strong union activist and powerful advocate for workers’ rights!

Participants who complete any course will receive a certificate of completion.  Participants who complete any three courses in one of the three categories listed below within two years after starting the first course, will receive a certificate of Mastery in that area. The three categories are Leadership, Unionism & Advocacy and Collective Bargaining.

Learning Portal

The IEA strives to offer you free, high-quality online professional development that fits your needs and is available on-demand to fit your changing schedule. View these ESP specific courses.

321 Insight

ParaSharp online professional development builds confidence, improves effectiveness, and increases job satisfaction. With easy-to-use videos, interactive discussions, planning and tracking tools and more, this program helps paraeducators feel supported and skilled. Instructions | Flier

ESP Mentoring

ESP Mentoring is also known as Peer Assistance. Peer assistance programs help ESP help ESP. In peer programs, experienced, highly accomplished veteran ESP provide sustained, intensive assistance to ESP who need assistance.

Contact Us

Arlene Criglar
ESP Program Paraprofessional

Contact the ESP Program

We would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.

ESP Trainings