Andrea BeemanSpecial Education Paraprofessional
Maple Heights High School
“I believe it is our responsibility as educators to maintain a sense of dignity, confidentiality, and to keep students safe, and I strive to do that every day,” says Andrea Beeman, the 2020 National Education Support Professional of the Year. “I am dedicated to filling my students’ days with fun, laughter, learning and an occasional Soul Train line.”
As COVID transforms public education, ESPs are providing support services and advocating for public schools at a time when the whole world is reminded just how important our schools are to every community.
“ESP members are the glue that holds our schools and communities together,” says Beeman, a member of the NEA Board of Directors. “Never in the 21st century have we ever experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. I want our nation to remember that education support professionals worked tirelessly when our students needed us the most.”
For almost 20 years, Beeman has worked as a special education paraprofessional with the Maple Heights City School District. Handling the unique challenges of students with severe developmental disabilities is demanding work, but Beeman not only derives tremendous satisfaction from her position, she calls it “an honor” to work with special education students.
Beeman is also a leader among her ESP colleagues. She was instrumental in advocating for several pieces of important contract language, including requiring bus monitors — a second adult — to be on school bus routes with kindergarten and all special needs students. She also obtained language that required the district to provide lifts in developmentally disabled units with non-ambulatory students. She was instrumental in bringing union solidarity and protections to her district’s food service workers who were excluded from the bargaining unit. In 2013, she was elected association president.
As an active member of the Northeastern Ohio Education Association (NEOEA), Beeman has served on several committees and was elected as an At-Large OEA Board of Director. She is a graduate of the NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow Program.
“I have been fortunate to know and work closely with Andrea for many years,” said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro. “She is an incredible leader who has used her skills as an organizer to advocate for what’s best for students, the adults who serve them and our public schools at the local, state and national level. She has devoted her life to breaking down barriers to student success and has been relentless in working toward that goal in and out of the classroom. Her determination is a model for all of us.”