McNally named state special education paraprofessional of the year

Submitted Photo Denbea McNally is the North Dakota United Education Support Professional of the Year.

Denbea McNally, a special education paraprofessional at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Minot, has been selected as the North Dakota United Education Support Professional of the Year, according to a press release from the teachers union.

McNally was honored at a school assembly on Wednesday, where McNally was announced as the statewide award winner by the ND United President Nick Archuleta.

McNally has worked for Minot Public Schools for the past eight and a half years, starting at Jim Hill Middle School as a time-out supervisor, and continuing at Lewis & Clark, according to the press release. Her current work responsibilities include providing one-on-one support for students who have been identified as having an emotional and/or behavioral disorder in kindergarten through fifth grade. She is responsible for implementing behavior-intervention plans, collecting data and providing accommodations specific to each student’s Individualized Education Program.

“Denbea exemplifies what the role of an educational support professional represents,” said Tara Landphere, the ED Resource room teacher for Lewis & Clark, in the press release. “She is a natural leader who takes her role and responsibilities very seriously. In her professional role, Denbea demonstrates the skills necessary to develop positive working relationships with both the students that she works with but also the teachers, specialists and school staff that she interacts with every day.”

McNally is also a dedicated member of the Minot Education Association, the union of education professionals for Minot Public Schools. Kristi Reinke, president of MEA, has worked with McNally and credits her for the time she has spent in recruiting new members into MEA and presenting a positive image of what an ESP is and does each day for students, according to the press release.

“In the last few years, Denbea has expressed wanting to take on more leadership roles to be a voice of the ESPs in the district,” Reinke said. “Not only has she accomplished those professional goals, but she has exceeded them by being noticed and recognized by other committees and leadership positions in the district, Reinke said in the press release. “Denbea has been asked, and was accepted, to be a part of Minot Public School’s new Employee Wellness Program Committee for the entire district, serving as a committee member and a wellness champion for her building. She has also been asked to be part of the new Minot Public Schools Safety Committee, as a voice for all non-teachers.”

The North Dakota United ESP of the Year Award annually recognizes an outstanding ESP member of our state association whose position betters the education profession and the lives of students. ESP job categories include: paraprofessional, education assistant, secretarial or clerical, custodial, food services, maintenance and trades, transportation, grounds-keeping, security, technology services, health services and others. The Minot Education Association is one of more than 180 local associations that make up North Dakota United. Leaders of our local associations will nominate individuals each year for the ESP of the Year award, which is selected by a committee of NDU leaders.