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Whole Student Education

Meeting the needs of every student requires a holistic approach to education that extends well beyond academics.

In order for students to succeed, we must meet their developmental needs and consider all the different factors that impact their experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.

The whole student approach to education draws from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as foundational tenets for educators to provide students with a strong, supportive learning environment.

Everyone on the education team plays an essential role in helping students reach their full potential. Education support professionals (ESPs) meet the needs of the whole student on many levels, ensuring their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

Throughout the school day and beyond, ESPs work tirelessly to keep students healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and ready to learn.

ESPs educate the whole student in many ways:

  • Health and student service professionals are key players in counseling, psychological and social services, and physical health services.
  • Food service, custodial, and transportation staff play distinct roles in keeping students safe and healthy through nutritious meals and a clean school environment.
  • Paraeducators provide direct services to students and assist in the classroom, often for our most vulnerable student populations with special needs.
  • ESPs are involved in their local and professional communities. They frequently serve in more than one school site and act as a liaison between schools, as well as between school staff and community agencies.
  • ESPs establish, develop and maintain connections with students and parents, fostering a positive school climate for all.

Professional Growth

Students cannot be whole unless educators are whole. We must continue to provide ESPs with quality professional learning opportunities so they can grow throughout their careers. The ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC) provides pathways for ESPs develop and strengthen their professional excellence for their students and their communities.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.