BISMARCK, N.D. – Deb Bertsch, assistant librarian and 50-year employee at Warwick Public Schools, has been named as the 2022 Education Support Professional of the Year by North Dakota United, the state’s union of 11,500 public educators and employees.

Bertsch received this year’s recognition at a school ceremony in the gym at Warwick on Nov. 19, 2021. “Thank you,” she said upon receiving the award from ND United President Nick Archuleta. “It’s because of all of you, each and every one of you that have done so much for me, and I greatly appreciate all that you’ve done. You’re the reason that’s kept me going at the Warwick Public Schools system for these 50 years. The students, the staff, the administration, the school board, the families, you are all just precious, and you mean the world to me.”

In addition to her duties as assistant librarian, she helps run the school’s hot lunch program by taking lunch count each day. “Debbie is that familiar face that kids have been seeing for years,” said Holly Retzlaff, physical/health education instructor at Warwick and Bertsch’s co-worker and friend. “Debbie is here for the kids. She worries about them like they are her own.”

Bertsch grew up in Warwick and graduated from high school there in 1969. She has been actively involved within Warwick her entire life, both in the school and out in the community. “She is basically the historian at our school,” Retzlaff said. “She has files and files for everything since she has been here. If anyone has a question, they look for Deb!” She is similarly dedicated to her local affiliate of educators, the Warwick Education Association, and outside of the school, with the Warwick VFW and in her church.

“What it all boils down to is the students,” Bertsch said in a video story produced by NDU earlier this year. “Anything you do, you do for the students.” And she intends to keep on doing all that she does in Warwick for as long as she possibly can. “As long as I still enjoy it and I still feel like I’m making a difference, that I’m doing my job and I’m not burnt out, I’m going to continue.”

Each year, the NDU ESP of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding ESP member of our state association. ESP job categories include: paraprofessional, education assistants, secretarial or clerical, custodial, food services, maintenance and trades, transportation, grounds-keeping, security, technology services, health services and more.