Thomas Alexander, ESP of the Year

ESPs and counseling, the unsung school heroes

Congratulations to Mr. Thomas Alexander for winning Edison High’s ESP of the Year Award!

“It was a really nice surprise,” Alexander said, describing the award as a way to acknowledge the impact of educators outside the classroom.

But what exactly does an ESP do? An education support professional is a blanket title for the various jobs that support students and ensure schools run in a safe, healthy, and smooth manner. “It’s a couple of different departments: counseling, child study, and special education teachers,” said Alexander. 

For Alexander, it means being a counselor for the last 20 years after getting a degree in applied psychology.

We don’t want anyone taking on the weight of the world on their own shoulders, let us help you if you need it.

— Mr. Thomas Alexander

As an ESP, he specifically runs social-emotional learning, or SEL, groups, as well as one-on-one counseling. He describes his role as ever-changing: “You don’t know what you will encounter on any given day in the counseling department. A student could come in with a number of things, someone who passed away, an argument with a teacher or boyfriend, or any issues at home.” This lack of predictability and the potential for helping people who need it drives his day. 

“The payoffs can be endless for the students, and even me as a counselor,” he said. He shared his own story, saying that he lost both his parents in college, but then continued to say that his job “allows him to take these difficult experiences and connect with a grieving student in a way others necessarily can’t.” 

Other jobs ESPs take on include “advocating for students, planning for college, providing information, and helping students develop skills.” 

In another one of his roles, Alexander is the coordinator of all Advanced Placement testing. Upon him rests the responsibility of making sure all the students are registered and can test in May without difficulties. 

For a final message, Alexander shared his thoughts on mental health in the pandemic:  “We know that times are very stressful, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in seeking help if you need it. It could even be from a favorite teacher.”

He reminds students, “We don’t want anyone taking on the weight of the world on their own shoulders, let us help you if you need it.”