Kimberly Scott-Hayden, an inventory control clerk who also assists the supervisor of Security Services at East Orange Public Schools and is the president of the East Orange Maintenance Association, has been named the 2021 National Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year by the National Education Association. Scott-Hayden was previously named NJEA’s 2021 New Jersey ESP of the year.


“Kim is going to be a fantastic NEA National ESP of the Year,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “Her career-long commitment to her work, her colleagues and her union will reflect well on ESPs across America. She is a tireless advocate for equity and social justice and will use her new platform to share and advance her vision of more just and equitable schools for every student.”

“Everyone who knows Kim is blown away by her energy and generosity,” said NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller. “She uses her gifts and talents to contribute to her school, her community and public education. I can think of no one who better exemplifies the essential contributions that educational support professionals make in our schools every day.”

“This is a proud day for New Jersey,” said NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty. “We’ve known for a long time how dynamic and inspirational Kim is, and the rest of the country is about to learn. She’s not only going to represent New Jersey to the rest of the country, but she will represent ESPs across America. There is no better person for that job.”

“As chair of the Human and Civil Rights Committee, Kim was instrumental in the combining of seven committees to form the NJEA Equity Alliance,” said Gary Melton, NJEA’s Manager of Human and Civil Rights, Equity and Governance.  “She has led the annual Human and Civil Rights Celebration as the culminating event of our Equity Alliance Weekend, which provides workshops and discussions around equity, diversity and inclusion.”

“Kimberly Scott-Hayden, our NEA ESP of the Year, is brave, heroic, unselfish, and, like many of her fellow educators in the midst of this pandemic, has continued to do everything for our students, our communities, and our nation,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “A proud union member and social justice activist, when school buildings closed – and classes continued, virtually or in person—she did not hesitate and she did not falter. During the pandemic, she continued to feed and nurture our students, turning school buildings into sites that offered nutritious meals to students. She even donated a kidney to her ailing husband. Channeling Martin Luther King, Jr.’s guiding principle, ‘what have you done for others?’ she responded with deeds and actions. This nation – our entire nation – owes our beloved ESPs and Kimberly Scott-Hayden in particular a huge debt of gratitude.”

Scott-Hayden, who is also the 2021 Essex County ESP of the Year and the NJEA ESP of the Year, began working in East Orange on her birthday, Dec. 18, 1995. The child of two employees of East Orange Public Schools and a proud graduate of the district, Scott-Hayden felt there was no better way to give back than to dedicate her professional life to the students of East Orange.

Since becoming president of her local association, Scott-Hayden has grown its membership from 40 to 400. Her unit now represents maintenance, security guards, teaching assistants and paraprofessionals. She has also served as an officer with the Essex County Education Association, served on the NJEA Delegate Assembly and the NJEA Executive Committee, and is currently an NEA Director.

The NEA ESP of the Year Award, presented by NEA and NEA Member Benefits, honors a member who demonstrates outstanding accomplishments and reflects the vital role ESPs play in public education.


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