Wood longtime advocate for ESPs

Education support professionals help make schools work. They drive the buses, feed the students and clean up at the end of the day – but they also help in classrooms and, in Jenny Wood’s case, make language accessible and conversations understandable for their students.

Wood is a sign language interpreter at South Sioux City, where she has been the past 16 years. She joined the NSEA in 2007.

“I wanted to have support, have my voice heard and give support to other ESPs,” Wood said.

Since then, she has served as a local building representative, a negotiator and chief negotiator for ESPs for the last three years.

On the statewide level, Wood represents ESPs of the Elkhorn District and co-chairs the NSEA ESP committee, also sitting on the ESP Task Force.

“Jenny is an advocate for our ESPs in Nebraska. She put in a lot of time to create the ESP Task Force,” said NSEA Organizational Specialist Judy Roach, who works with ESPs. “She is always willing to help with whatever we need.”

Roach asked Wood to present at the 2021 NSEA University, and she jumped at the opportunity.

“She did a great job!” Roach said. “I appreciate all she does for South Sioux City, NSEA and NEA.”

Wood has attended several Delegate Assemblies over the years, as well as the local ESP conference in Norfolk. Nationally, she traveled to NEA ESP conferences in Orlando, Florida in 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada in 2019 and participated virtually in 2021.

“When I attended the conference in Las Vegas, Judy Roach, Travis Vo and I created a task force,” Wood said. “The task force is a group to recruit ESP members, retain membership and offer professional development. Travis and I introduced a new business item at the 2019 DA to allow an ESP member to hold a seat on the NSEA board. It was approved by the DA.”

“Jenny is an exemplary example of one of our ESP leaders,” said NSEA Organizational Specialist Jason Wiese, who nominated Wood to attend the 2022 NEA ESP conference. “Jenny is always willing to do what it takes to grow the association and public education.”

Outside of school, Wood spends time with her husband, Jeff, who is a paraprofessional at South Sioux City. She is also licensed as a community sign language interpreter in Iowa and has been a member of Junior League of Sioux City for 13 years.

The Junior League is a women’s organization that promotes volunteerism in the community and provides training and opportunities to practice leadership skills.

She also serves on the administrative council at her church, enjoys going to movies and likes to travel.