Michelle Dennard, an educational support professional (ESP) who has served special education students in Osseo Area Schools for the past 16 years, has been named Minnesota ESP of the Year by Education Minnesota! This award recognizes Dennard's outstanding leadership, community engagement, and personal achievements.
"I am known for taking on the more challenging students," Dennard shared in her application for the award. "I make sure that all students' overall needs are met, regardless of their level, race, or gender, and that they have the tools to succeed."
Dennard currently works at the Osseo Education Center, which serves students ages 17 to 21 who require special education services to complete their graduation requirements. Administrators there recognize her talent. "Michelle is an ESP who is focused on recognizing strengths of scholars so they can use those strengths to overcome the challenges they face in our society," shares Angela VanHee. "She builds relationships that result in students feeling valued and confident."
As the recipient of the award, Dennard will receive a new Apple iPad and a $1,200 honorarium. She will also be nominated for the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the awards ceremony, if it is held in person.
“ESPs are often the first people that interact with our students each day and the last ones to say goodbye,” said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. “Michelle has dedicated her life to supporting her students, both in the classroom and out. In addition, her leadership in her district and in her union makes sure that all students, and educators, are seen and have their voices heard.”