• njasa 4 equity

    Reopening Resources

    Corona Virus Resources








    NJ Thanks You


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  • May 7

    Long Branch Public Schools

    Dr. Michael Salvatore, Chief Education Officer




    Next, let's head down to Long Branch in Monmouth County to meet Shannon King and Kris Parker. Shannon is a bus driver and special assistant with the Long Branch Schools, and Kris is a football coach, and that won't surprise you, looking at Kris. When they learned of students whose families were having a hard time accessing food and other necessities, Shannon and Kris decided to start their own pantry to support the kids they work with every day. They took their idea to Facebook, and soon it received enough donations to supply 200 food baskets. But they weren't done. They expanded their effort to include a weekly hot meal. Some they made, others donated by local restaurants. Now they're helping families not just in Long Branch, but in other communities, too, in the neighborhood in Monmouth County, including Asbury Park. To both Shannon and Kris, New Jersey thanks you.


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  • May 7

    The School District of South Orange & Maplewood

    Dr. Ronald G Taylor, Chief Education Officer




    And even beyond our corporate partners, we are extremely lucky to have tremendous residents who continue to inspire us, so let's celebrate a few more of them. First up, here is Jake Ezzo. He's the choir director at South Orange Middle School. But on top of that, he's also become a leader of the SOMA 3D Printer Alliance, which is bringing together his students and their families, and even some complete strangers from across the state, in an effort to create face shields for our frontline workers. And so far, Jake and his team have produced the delivered, are you ready for this? 18,630 and counting face shields to hospitals across New Jersey, and even in some cases into New York, and they hope to crack 20,000 before the end of this week. So to you, Jake, and the entire 3D Printer Alliance, congratulations and New Jersey thanks you.


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  • May 5

    Hackensack Public Schools

    Robert Sanchez, Chief Education Officer


    Hackensack Public Schools

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  • May 4

    Collingswood Public Schools

    Dr. Scott A. Oswald, Chief Education Officer




    And finally, we want to give a shout out to Collingswood's Patrick Rodio, who yesterday ran 20.20 miles to raise money to pay for high school yearbooks for students who cannot afford them on their own. From his run through Knight Park yesterday he raised more than $3,000. Given today's announcement about schools and this school year, this act takes on greater meaning. For some students in Collingswood, the yearbook will be their bank of memories of a school year that was unlike any other. Because of Patrick, they'll now be able to hold those memories. So to you Pat, Collingswood and New Jersey, we thank you.


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  • May 2

    Monroe Township School DistrictMiddlesex County

    Dr. Dori Alvich, Chief Education Officer


    monroe twp. 1   monroe twp.2


    First up, 13-year-old, there he is, James Freeman of Monroe Township in Middlesex County. Like many kids his age, his parents give him an allowance for doing his chores around the house. And certainly there's been no lack of those with everyone staying at home. But instead of pocketing his allowance money, James has been using it to buy filament for his 3D printer, which has been turning out ear guards to make wearing a mask more comfortable. He's so far made and donated 500 of them to healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers. And James has even turned down offers to donate money. He's doing this all by himself, one shore at a time. So to you, James, New Jersey, thanks you and I hope your community spirit never, ever, ever dims.


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  • April 29

    Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

    Mrs. Debra Gulick, Chief Education Officer


    Bobby Hoye


    Let's come up with a picture of a guy who lives not too far from me. First up is Bobby Hoye. There's Bobby. He's a senior at Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School, where he was also captain, by the way, of the track team. Bobby was training for what would have been his first marathon, the New Jersey Marathon, which was scheduled for this past Sunday. But why let all that training go to waste? Bobby concluded. He decided to run his marathon anyway, in his home, on a treadmill, and to use it as an opportunity to ask friends and family to pledge money to support Jersey Shore University Medical Centers COVID-19 Relief Fund. He enlisted the help of his friend and fellow senior Peyton Ming to help livestream his run. In five hours and 25 minutes and 16 seconds, and nearly $6,000 later, Bobby finished his marathon. He didn't get a finishers medal, unfortunately, but he has our deepest admiration and respect for an extraordinary accomplishment.



    And for anyone who's ever run one, two or three miles on a treadmill, as I have on many occasions, that's hard enough. Can you imagine running 26.2 of them? And he did it. So to you Bobby Hoye, and assist to Peyton Ming, congratulations. New Jersey thanks you and go Bulldogs.


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  • April 28, 2020

    Hillsborough Township Public School District

    Dr. Lisa Antunes, Acting Superintendent




    "Hillsborough High School students Navleen and Raj Boparai started a Meals for Heroes, a fundraiser to provide front-line heroes with meals. They’ve raised more than $30,000 and delivered more than 3,000 meals. #NJThanksYou!"



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  • April 22, 2020

    Woodbridge Township School District

    Dr. Robert Zega, Chief Education Officer


    colonia cares  


    “And, not too far down the road in neighboring Woodbridge, 11 friends, I think they're all there, from Colonia High School have banded together to create Colonia Cares. Through their website, they're selling yard signs and t-shirts with all the proceeds being turned into gift cards from local businesses, which are then being donated to a local food bank, as well as to Woodbridge Social Services. Now get this. They only started on Saturday and I believe today's Wednesday, and already they've sold 500 pieces from their website. Wow. So to the crew at Colonia Cares, Harrison Brenly, Emily Christie, Jordan Dirkhak, Mia Kruseman, Carrie Leshaque, Nate Momenti, Emily Melendez, Victor Perosi, Antonia Pierce, Jack Riley, and Jose Roberto, we salute you. These are just three of the many, many good news stories across our state, so please continue sharing them with every New Jerseyan through our social media, hashtag, #NJThanksYou.”



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  • April 15, 2020

    Teaneck Public Schools

    Dr. Christopher Irving, Chief Education Officer


    Teaneck Schools


    “The science director for the Teaneck schools, there he is on the left, Rolando Montserrat, came across the plans online for producing face shields. And his first thought was how to make enough to make a difference. Using his own personal 3D printer and borrowing three others from the Teaneck schools, and with the support, I might add, of the Teaneck PTO, and alongside one of his students, and that's the gentleman on the right, sophomore Elias Sanchez. He has been able to turn his home into a mini face shield factory. They just donated their first 340 face shields to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, and God knows that Mike Marin and his team at Holy Name could use all the help they can get. They've been incredible heroes in this fight.


    Additionally, the Teaneck schools have donated the goggles normally set aside for use in their science labs and gloves from their nurses' offices to members of the Township's ambulances. This is the essence of the community coming together. So to the Teaneck Public Schools, #NJThanksYou”



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  • April 14, 2020

    Paterson Public Schools

    Ms. Eileen Schafer, State District Superintendent 




    And here is Zellie Thomas. Zellie's on the right, flying his Yankee colors. He's a community activist and an educator in the Paterson Public Schools. He has helped organize a small band of volunteers. They've named themselves North Jersey Mutual Aid. They're collecting small dollar donations and turning them into necessities for seniors and other vulnerable residents who are staying in their homes and aren't able to easily go out. They're bringing them everything from toilet paper to hot meals, meals sourced, by the way, from local restaurants, who are also stepping up. To Zellie and every member of North Jersey Mutual Aid, we thank you.



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  • April 13, 2020

    South Bergen Jointure Commission

    Dr. Michael D. Kuchar, Chief Education Officer




    And in Bergen County, The South Bergen Jointure Commission has been working with families of individuals with special needs to include the differently abled in our response efforts. They've been delivering 3D printers to their families, and together with their students, have been producing face shields. The first have already been delivered to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. We are grateful to the whole team, especially superintendent, Dr. Michael Kuchar and his entire squad. I want to give a shout out to Stephanie McGowan, who is the third from the right, who sent this photo to me. She's there with her husband and her son. God bless them all.



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  • April 11, 2020

    Mount Olive School District

    Dr. Robert Zywicki, Chief Education Officer



    Warren Hills Regional School District

    Earl C. Clymer III, Chief Education Officer

     Warren Hills

    “Just this morning, the man to my left, Colonel Pat Callahan, went over to Warren Hills High School near his home, I might add, and where his own kids went, were students and faculty members from there and nearby I believe Mount Olive High as well, assembled 15,000 face shields that will be donated to our healthcare workers. These two schools are often rivals on the playing field and in the gym. But today, they showed how we're all coming together to help others.”



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  • April 4, 2020

    Newton Public Schools

    NJASA Immediate-Past President Dr. G. Kennedy Greene, Chief Education Officer


    Newton Public Schools


    “And how about this guy? This is Jim Hoffman. He’s a science and technology educator at Newton High School in Sussex County, where he coaches, by the way, the Robotics Team. His son Justin is a resident doctor at University Hospital in Newark. He used to work for you, Judy. Jim, the dad, is using both his personal 3D printer and the two at Newton High School to produce protective face shields for the doctors and nurses who need them. So, to Jim, we cannot thank you enough.


    Gwen and Jim are just two of what we know are thousands of ordinary New Jerseyans who are doing extraordinary things to help us pull through this emergency, whether it’s by keeping a community fed or making sure our frontline healthcare workers have the gear they need to stay safe on the job; or, I should note, the work of the many community pharmacists, another group I want to give a big shoutout to, who have kept their doors open to preserve their communities’ health and wellness.”



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    NJASA has compiled a database containing over 2000 pages of documents pertaining to regionalization initiatives in New Jersey and elsewhere.


    The password-protected database contains information and resources on:

    1. Studies and legislation pertaining to New Jersey, initiated by the state, and studies pertaining to other places can be found under Government Studies and Legislation.
    2. Studies undertaken by New Jersey towns can be found under the section titled Local Regionalization Studies. This section is organized by county.
    3. Historical memoranda related to this topic from the New Jersey Department of Education can be found in the section under that title.
    4. Scholarly articles and opinion pieces of note related to this topic can be found under the section titled Regionalization Articles and Publications.
    5. Articles and studies related to Shared Services can be found under the section with that title.
    6. More general scholarly articles and historical position papers on the topic can be found under the section titled General Studies on Regionalization. 


    Any member who knows of the existence of any studies not included in this extensive database are urged to contact NJASA Chief Counsel Maria Lepore at mlepore@njasa.net so they may be added.


    The password-protected database can be accessed here, you will be required to sign-in with your NJASA Member username and password.


    Trouble signing-in? Please email the NJASA Business Office.



    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 9/21/2020


    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020



    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    On behalf of NJASA, it is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a dedicated advocate of equality and justice.

    The words - "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" written above the main entrance to the Supreme Court Building, express the ultimate responsibility of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Ginsburg's accomplishments exemplify the true meaning of these words. One of her most notable accomplishments is the Supreme Court's landmark decision in United States v. Virginia (1996), which held that the men-only admission policy of a state-run university, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), violated the equal protection clause. Rejecting VMI's contention that its program of military-focused education was unsuitable for women, Ginsburg noted that the program was in fact unsuitable for the vast majority of Virginia college students regardless of gender. “[G]eneralizations about ‘the way women are,’ estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description,” she wrote.


    The New York Times Editorial Board writes, "Justice Ginsburg, who was Jewish, died on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. Fittingly, it is a day when Jews look backward and forward, reflecting on what has passed, and preparing for what is to come. Justice Ginsburg’s death marks the end of her long battle on behalf of equality for all Americans. Others must now carry that fight forward."

    Colleagues, my thoughts turn to all of you who are our frontline leaders making a difference in the lives of our students. I thank you for your efforts in educating and guiding the future Ruth Bader Ginsburgs of the world.

    We are in a better place because of her. And, I am hopeful, her wishes and beliefs will continue to make our country and the world a better place.

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  • Return to School Guidance Released – Significant Challenges Remain

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 7/1/2020

    Governor Murphy introduced “The Road Back - Restart and Recovery Plan for Education, the guidance for schools reopening prepared by the NJ Department of Education during his Friday, June 26 press conference. He declared that schools will open in September for in-person instruction, providing options to local districts to craft the way they will resume that instruction. The guidance, totaling 104 pages, relies heavily on the Center for Disease Control Guidelines, providing numerous resources to assist New Jersey educators in the arduous task of creating reopening plans that must be publicly announced one month prior to the start of the school year. 


    Most NJASA members believe that the social distancing requirements of the guidance point to a hybrid approach to schooling in September for most districts. Pupils can be in the buildings for some period, but not full time due to space restrictions. The report itself describes various alternative schedules that might be considered. District and school level planning teams that include constituent representatives must assemble to provide input to the school reopening plans. 


    The NJDOE guidance provides a set of standards and structural guidelines that school opening planning can, and must, be based upon. Yet, many questions have arisen and will continue to do so as district leaders accelerate the planning initiatives already undertaken. The minimum health requirements of the guidance, as well as the optional measures that districts might implement, will burden already reduced FY 20/21 school budgets. Other recommendations are similarly taxing on district resources, both human and capital. Meeting the professional development recommendations alone during the summer and school year seems an insurmountable task. The state legislature is now adopting a spending plan for the months of July, August, and September that confirms district reductions even before the full impact of the pandemic on state revenues is understood. Reduced tax and fee collections portend additional cuts to the state aid now committed to districts for the fiscal year. 


    Significant challenges beyond health and finances remain to be addressed even with the new guidelines. 


    • Will schools have the human resources to meet the demands of the hybrid model that is chosen?
      • Early parent and staff surveys indicate a reluctance by many students and school personnel to return to in-person schooling.
      • Senior staff members in many locales are contemplating retirement as they assess the health threats they might face on return to work.
    • Will school buses and drivers be available to undertake the additional bus routes that will be required to transport students?
    • Will the necessary personal protective equipment, disinfectants, shields, etc. be available?
    • Will co-curricular and athletic activities be conducted as previously expected?
    • Will districts conforming to the minimal health guidelines be immune to legal challenges when infections occur among pupils and staff?
    • Will parents be able to adjust childcare and at-home instruction requirements of hybrid schooling while returning to work as restrictions are lifted?
    • Will teachers and support staff reasonably be able to meet the additional demands of hybrid programming?
    • Will collective bargaining agreements require modification under the new schooling regimen?


    There are many more unanswered questions that arise as significant developments in the Covid-19 infection are occurring. Governor Murphy announced as I am writing this article that the plan to reopen inside restaurant dining is rescinded due to the spread of the disease in other states and the disregard by many state residents of the social distancing requirements. Arizona, Florida, and Texas are rolling back reopening activities as they are becoming the latest epicenters for the disease after loosening restrictions.  


    We refer to the “summer recess” for the months of July and August in the school calendar. An underwhelming label for a period when so many student programs, staffing, training activities, and school opening preparations are being undertaken!  Looking forward, there will not be any “recess” at all this year. Only overtime planning and implementation as the new school year races toward us.

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  • From Tech Start-up to Tech-Savvy in New Jersey’s Schools TECHSPO® Celebrates 25th Anniversary

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 1/6/2020

    Techspo 2020 In 1995, there were no iPads or Chromebooks. The worldwide web was just getting started. A classroom might have had one desktop computer, used as a supplemental tool. It was the infancy of technology in education.


    Fast forward 25 years and you can see the paradigm shift. Today’s schools are infusing technology in the learning process via laptops, tablets, and other smart devices coupled with innovative teaching methods like blended learning that encourage students to take charge of their educational journey.


    Far from a single computer in the corner, these classrooms are wired for learning. According to a 2018 study by MidAmerica Nazarene University, 86 percent of K-12 teachers surveyed had WiFi in their classrooms. Seventy-three percent said their students used tablets or laptops daily and 66 percent noted that the school supplied the devices. Twenty-five percent of the students brought devices from home.


    This dramatic evolution, from tech start-up to tech-savvy, would not have been possible without the foresight of New Jersey’s school leaders. It was in those formative years when NJASA initiated its Technology Committee to stay abreast of technological trends in education. In 1995, to bring these topical issues and emerging technologies to our members, we held the first TECHSPO®. It was a valuable resource as districts sought to implement the technology that would transform learning. Now in its 25th year, TECHSPO® ’20 is still New Jersey’s Premier Educational Technology Training and Exhibition Conference for school leaders and educators.


    Mark your calendar for TECHSPO® ’20 in Atlantic City, January 30th to 31st. It could be the most important meeting you’ll attend all year. Here’s why.


    At TECHSPO® ’20, you’ll network with more than 1,000 K-12 educators. You’ll find the latest on educational technology, and practical advice you can implement right away. You’ll hear from school districts that are pioneering groundbreaking programs. They’re starting coding in PreK. They’re using technology for K to 5 language instruction. They’re embracing the 21st century digital classroom.


    Importantly, you’ll get an expert view on the key issues you’ll want to explore.


    • Are you fully prepared for a cyber-attack? Learn the elements of good cyber security and how you can protect your district.


    • Are you seeking to improve equity in your district? Learn how you can use technology to enable equity for all learners.


    Empower your staff through tech coaching. Revolutionize social emotional learning with student-created virtual reality. Make learning visible through technology-based assessments. Choose from over 130 workshops covering everything from STEAM programs to classroom tech tools, and more.


    Inspiring Keynote Speakers Share Unique Perspectives


    Matt Miller is an educator, blogger and presenter who has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. He is the author of “Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom.” After trying to teach by the textbook for a few years, he launched into a textbook-less path where learning activities were often custom produced for his students as well as infused with technology. Matt is a Google Certified Innovator and a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator, and we’ll learn a lot from his innovative approach.


    Dr. Katie Martin is the author of Learner-Centered Innovation and Vice President of Professional Learning at Altitude Learning.  She has worked in diverse contexts to learn, research, and support deeper learning for all students. At the university, district, and school-level, Katie aspires to create experiences that empower all learners to develop knowledge, skills, and mindsets to thrive in a changing world. As a mom, she wants her kids to have learning experiences in school that build on their strengths and interests and as an educator; she is passionate about making sure we do the same for all kids. 


    New This Year: Technology “Fireside Chats”


    This year, we’re hosting fireside chats, informal yet structured sessions where you can ask questions of our experts on the following topics:


    • What is the role of esports (competitive gaming) in education? We’ll discuss the academic and social emotional benefits, and share the challenges and successes.
    • How can we train our students to address the sustainability challenges that humanity collectively faces, such as climate change or global food security? We must move beyond conventional teaching practices and towards a reinvention of STEM education.


    Register Today for TECHSPO® ’20


    That’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find at TECHSPO® ’20. It’s two days, two keynote presentations, 280+ speakers, 130+ workshops, and 150+ exhibitors. This conference will help school leaders, educators, and anyone in your district working with technology.


    Don’t miss your chance to take your district’s technology to the next level. Join us at TECHSPO® ’20, on January 30th and 31st at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Click on the following links for the registration page, information on hotel reservations, and a waiver for overnight lodging. Together, we can conquer the challenges of technology and embrace opportunities so that students will be ready to take on their future. Learn more at njasa.net.


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  • Ensuring Equity for All New Jersey Students

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 11/19/2019

    Equity for All

    Today, the ultimate challenge for us as district leaders is to assure that each and every one of our students, regardless of background, is exposed to relevant and engaging learning experiences and the support that they will need in order to be successful in school and thrive in our world. That means that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income, as defined by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2017.


    At NJASA, we’re working for fair and equitable opportunities for all students, educators, and communities through our initiative, NJASA 4 Equity. Below is a glimpse of all we’ve been doing, and why you should join us on November 21st for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic at The Palace at Somerset Park.


    We will be initiating a process of reviewing the survey responses from school leaders who provided input regarding strategies and resources needed for building and sustaining an equitable learning environment. Our goal is to create an Equity Toolkit of best practices. We know that this type of Toolkit is not a magic bullet as issues of societal discrimination and inequities have a long history in educational systems. However, with the collaboration of superintendents, district administrators, and our county affiliate presidents, this Toolkit will provide support, guidelines, frameworks and resources to New Jersey school districts as they endeavor to ensure both access and opportunity for educational equity.


    We believe in equitable access to funding for all school districts.

    We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.


    We believe in equitable access to professional development for all school leaders, and in equitable access to career opportunities and fair compensation for all association members.

    We’re continuing to support new superintendents through mentor relationships, specially designed meeting sessions, and network opportunities. We’re ensuring gender, racial and economic equity among those serving as central office leaders. We’re creating an ongoing repository of best practice professional development opportunities in areas of educational leadership. We’re also increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and wellness for novice and veteran superintendents and members of NJASA.


    New Jersey’s schools are #1. Equity will help us to remain at the forefront.

    Education Week recently ranked New Jersey’s schools first in the nation. What will keep us on top is equity for New Jersey’s 1.4 million students. Innovation, practice, policy and performance are so important, and our schools are rising to the challenge.


    In Hamilton Township, Mercer County, NJASA President Dr. Scott Rocco oversees 17 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Equity is a goal in the budgeting process. As a result, not every school has the same budget. Rather, building budgets are developed to support the students’ needs for success. There are many examples of equity budgeting but one is paying for AP testing for students, regardless of their ability to pay. 


    In the Cranbury School District, NJASA Small Schools/Shared Services Committee Chair Dr. Susan Genco stresses the importance of access and opportunity. She says it is our responsibility as educators to create and provide opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations.


    NJASA is working with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania to provide educators with information and strategies that will help our students to achieve. We also are collaborating with the New Jersey Consortia for Excellence Through Equity Northeast, Northwest, Central, and South. These networks of urban, suburban and rural school districts are all driven by a mission to positively transform the lives of each and every one of their students by preparing them for success in post-secondary education and in life – especially those diverse children who have traditionally struggled academically in our systems, or who might likely be the first in their family to attend and graduate from college.


    As district leaders, you are key to promoting and supporting meaningful change. Again, please join us for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Palace at Somerset Park.


    We’ll hear from esteemed, groundbreaking thought leaders on the forefront of equity who are covering an insightful agenda.


    Our keynote speaker, Fay E. Brown, Ph.D., will talk about “Reimagining Equity: The Case for a Whole-Child Approach for Effective Teaching and Learning.” Dr. Brown is a research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. She has co-authored book chapters in such books as: Child by Child; Six Pathways to Healthy Development and Academic Success; and Dynamic Instructional Leadership to Support Student Learning and Development.


    Scholastic’s SVP of Education, Karen Burke, Ed.D., will serve as moderator. Burke has been an educator for more than 30 years, and currently helps district leadership understand and use data to create district-specific comprehensive literacy plans that weave pedagogy, programs, and professional learning together to elevate student learning.


    We also will learn from New Jersey’s school districts about creating and sustaining the structures, curricula and programs that eliminate gaps in achievement. We’ll learn to bypass race, ethnicity, and gender. We’ll remove barriers from language, (dis)ability or family economic background. We are partners who can help gather the resources, thought and energy needed to create and sustain meaningful educational change to the benefit of all of the diverse learners you serve. Together, we will ensure all students succeed.


    Whether you are just beginning to explore and create or you are maintaining developmentally appropriate conditions, I hope you’ll join us. Register today


    Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News

    As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.

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  • Hot-Button Issues for NJ’s Public Schools – Fall 2019

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 8/29/2019

    Back to School We’re heading back to school. In New Jersey, that means plenty of hot-button issues on the horizon. The 2019-20 school year will be pivotal as we explore state funding, graduation testing requirements, regional consolidation, the teacher shortage, special education disputes, a new mental health curriculum and a later school start time. Here’s a look at what lies ahead, and what it means to administrators, educators, parents and students.


    The Quest for Equitable State Funding


    Funding struggles are nothing new for New Jersey’s schools. But in past years, some districts didn’t receive nearly enough state aid. Landmark legislation passed last year was supposed to correct those imbalances — and it did. The problem is that it took funding from the budgets of other districts.     


    As a result, educational leaders throughout New Jersey have found themselves in one of two positions: finally receiving additional funds for their districts after years of hardship or losing funding and having to slash budgets.


    This summer, Governor Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act, which helps to ramp up K-to-12 funding by nearly $260 million dollars. Of that amount, $60 million will be dedicated to maintain and expand pre-K programs. Another $2 million will expand computer science education to all grades, and not just high school, and there’s $650,000 for STEM and other early college high school programs. Finally, the budget includes another $50 million for “extraordinary special education costs.” Districts can apply for this funding, as needed.


    We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.


    • What State Funding Means for Schools and Educators: Districts receiving funds are still operating at a shortfall since this support has been years in the making. Districts losing funds have already made the first set of cuts, in many cases essential staff. Pre-K programs seem to be the only “safe” bet in this funding scenario — for now.


    • What State Funding Means for Parents and Students: Expect cuts across the board in districts which are losing funds. Parents of preschoolers will have more public options. While STEM programs are already in the elementary grades, computer science will need a learning curve as districts explore appropriate curriculum for younger learners.


    The Path to Graduation is Still Unclear


    State law mandates that students pass an assessment in eleventh grade before they can graduate from a public high school in New Jersey. The PARCC test was intended to replace that requirement, with students passing both PARCC Algebra 1 and tenth grade English Language Arts.


    On December 30, 2018, the Superior Court Appellate Division invalidated those PARCC tests, and legislators have been scrambling to address graduation requirements ever since. The Department of Education (DOE) has recently released educator-prepared student learning objectives for the English Language Arts and Mathematics student learning standards, which will ultimately guide school district curricula and form the basis for a new generation of assessments.


    In the meantime, recent agreements approved by the State Supreme Court allow high school graduation standards to remain the same through 2022. Beginning with the graduating class of 2023, there will be a mandated, eleventh-grade assessment. NJASA is one of the many stakeholders informing future assessment decisions. Stay tuned.


    • What the Path to Graduation Means for Schools and Educators: Schools are continuing the status quo for the foreseeable future, as they await direction from the DOE and the state.


    • What the Path to Graduation Means for Parents and Students: Students graduating high school now through 2022 have a variety of options according to the state: the eleventh-grade state test, the PARCC assessments, SAT, ACT or ACCUPLACER scores and student portfolios.


    Senate President Steve Sweeney and others have introduced a series of Path to Progress bills that promise to fix the state’s financial crisis. A portion of the proposed legislation impacts New Jersey’s school significantly. The idea is to merge K-4, K-6 and K-8 districts into K-12 regional school systems, purportedly saving tens of billions of dollars for taxpayers.


    This is nothing new; we’ve been studying the issue for decades. Proponents say it will increase efficiency and lower costs. That’s not always the case. Regionalization can result in increased transportation costs, higher property taxes, and loss of state and federal aid. Local participation and involvement also is an issue. Our experience leads us to believe that parents identify and participate with greater frequency in local school districts rather than in larger regional districts where a town may only have one board member and the meetings take place in a different town. Finally, the quality of existing courses and services in many small districts is excellent. Many students thrive in a small educational setting. Therefore, bigger in terms of educational organization does not necessarily mean better.


    We believe that for some districts regionalization may bring some students a wider range of course offerings and services, and possibly some other benefits. We also feel strongly that combining school districts must be a local decision. It could be right for your district, but that’s for communities to decide — not the state.


    • What the Path to Progress Means for Schools and Educators: Districts that consolidate may lose their unique offerings and ability to personalize education. Prepare for faculty cuts as districts eliminate redundancy.


    • What the Path to Progress Means for Parents and Students: If regionalization becomes a reality, parents and students will need to navigate a more complex education system while potentially paying more in taxes.


    What You Need to Know About the Teacher Shortage


    A growing concern is New Jersey’s teacher shortage in critical areas. Simply put, districts are struggling to employ teachers who represent their diverse student base. Having a teacher that looks like you, or shares a similar cultural background, helps to build relationships. That in turn promotes equity, where all children have an equal opportunity to succeed. Districts are working on opportunities for minority students to develop interest in education careers. School leaders are also making an effort to recruit a more diverse teacher base.


    This summer, the Department of Education held its first statewide conference on equity in education. There were workshops on LGBTQ inclusivity, disability awareness, empathy and trauma, among other topics. The DOE also is encouraging a focus on social-emotional learning initiatives to help students thrive.


    • What the Teacher Shortage Means for Schools and Educators: Equity continues to be the watchword in today’s districts. Look for more programs to learn how your school can establish equity for all.


    • What Teacher Shortage Means for Parents and Students: Don’t expect significant staff changes overnight as schools struggle to recruit talent. Do expect an emphasis on social-emotional learning, and ask your child’s teacher how he or she is addressing this important aspect of education.


    Streamlining Special Education Disputes


    There are hundreds of disputes each year between districts and families with special education students. At issue are whether student needs are being addressed. Due to a shortage of judges, these cases can drag on for months or even years.


    New state rules promise to streamline the process. Cases must be resolved within 45 days. That may seem challenging, and time will tell whether that’s realistic. There will be non-judicial hearing officers to help process the caseload.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this complex issue.


    • What Special Education Disputes Mean for Schools and Educators: Schools will have increased accountability to the state. It’s unclear whether the non-judicial hearing officers will have the expertise to make decisions.


    • What Special Education Disputes Mean for Parents and Students: Cases will be resolved during the current school year, or close to it, for more immediate action.


    Fostering Mental Health


    Governor Murphy signed legislation requiring mental health education in K-12 health curriculums. That means in future physical education and health classes, students also will study mental health in an age appropriate manner, starting in kindergarten.


    • What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Schools and Educators: New curriculum could mean additional investments for fund-strapped districts.


    • What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Parents and Students: Mental health curriculum will hopefully reduce the stigma and instill greater empathy among students.


    Later Start Time


    The Governor also established a pilot program that would test later start times in New Jersey schools. The program will be tested in five districts, representing urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.


    • What a Later Start Time Means for Schools and Educators: Research has suggested that a later start time may improve student learning outcomes.


    • What a Later Start Time Means for Parents and Students: There will be jockeying for timing of transportation and extracurricular activities, but most students will enjoy a later start.


    Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News

    As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.


    Stay tuned to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators website at www.njasa.net, this blog and our Facebook page for continuing up-to-date information on these critical issues and our professional programs.

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  • 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award Winner

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 6/14/2019

    Dr. Scott McCartney Makes a Difference in Moorestown and Beyond


    Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference.


    Dr. Scott McCartney That’s the case with Dr. Scott McCartney, Chief Education Officer for Moorestown Township Public Schools. As recipient of the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award, Dr. McCartney had made quite a difference both at the local level and statewide.


    The Value of Education

    For Dr. McCartney, it started with a longstanding interest in education that turned into a major in college. But it was during his undergraduate practicum at Ursinus that he realized the full value of his chosen profession. He was asked to teach the color green to three young special needs students. It took many attempts, and a lot of creativity, but he succeeded – and was captivated by the experience.


    The first of his family to attend college, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in secondary education from Ursinus and followed with a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from Rowan University and a doctorate in administration from Seton Hall University.


    Taking the Helm to Lead Toward the FutureDSA Award Recipient


    During that process, Dr. McCartney officially began his career as a teacher, substituting in the very district where he once attended school. The district recognized his potential and soon offered him a full-time teaching position for language arts, writing and reading. His administrative career soon followed, as assistant principal and principal at the George L. Hess Complex in Hamilton Twp., Atlantic County.


    At the age of 32, he took the helm of Dennis Township Schools in Cape May County, becoming – at the time – the youngest chief education officer in New Jersey. He has since served as chief education officer for Downe Township Schools in Cumberland County and Egg Harbor Township Schools in Atlantic County.


    Today, Dr. McCartney is Superintendent of the Moorestown Township Public Schools, a post that he has held for the past three years. And lot has transpired in those three years.


    The district has been awarded a Bronze Certification in the Future Ready Schools Program. It has extended and enhanced technology integration. It has engaged with the community to address social and emotional learning.


    Dr. McCartney has also worked with the Board to generate over 2.5 million dollars in new revenue through grants and programs in the district.  This includes a school security grant of over a million dollars for Moorestown High School.


    Through it all, Dr. McCartney is doing what he does best – making a difference. In addition to providing stability in leadership, he has engaged the school community on focused district goals. He emphasizes innovation, social and emotional learning and targeted instruction for different learners.


    Taking on the Challenges that Make the Difference


    His dedication to the profession is shown by his extensive record of service. Dr. McCartney is an active member of NJASA, and a past president. He also is an NJASA mentor and a former AASA Governing Board Member for New Jersey. Professional development remains his passion, and he regularly presents at the local, state and national levels. He is proud to be part of the Moorestown Township School family.


    Throughout his career, Dr. McCartney has sought and been asked to participate in visionary programs and to take on new challenges.  As a first-year teacher, he was asked to build a new computerized writing lab program and stepped in to help redesign an alternative school.  As a building administrator, he has always looked forward to see how innovation and progressive thinking could benefit his students and my staff.  Some of those areas included the development of a school based professional development institute, looping, innovative schedules and a variety of new instructional program and curricular models.  As a Chief Education Officer, he has led the charge to implement standards-based instruction and reporting, professional learning communities, differentiated instruction, character education programs, STEAM, alternative programs, and a host of other visionary initiatives.


    Says Dr. McCartney, “This career in education has blessed me and continues to do so daily as I serve a robust and talented community of learners.  I am encouraged, excited, and enthusiastic about the care I see being delivered in our public schools each day and I truly feel privileged and grateful to be a part of it!”


    For these reasons, and others too numerous to mention, it is my pleasure to recognize Dr. Scott McCartney with the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.


    Click here to view the video.


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  • Three Reasons to Attend the Spring Leadership Conference

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 4/30/2019

    SLC Cover 2019 Self-awareness. Focused attention. Empathy and inclusiveness. These are just some of the concepts embedded in mindfulness, the theme of this year’s NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference: “Mindfulness for All: Connecting Leaders and Learners.” When mindfulness is a focus in education, both leaders and learners benefit—which is why attending the conference could be the most important professional development opportunity that you take this school year. In fact, there are hundreds of reasons to sign up for the spring conference. I’ll give you my top three.


    Reason #1: Inspiring Speakers Offer Exciting Perspectives on Leading and Learning

    The conference opens with a keynote presentation on Wed., May 15, from 1-3 p.m. by Jonathan Mooney. Jonathan first learned to read when he was 12 years old. Today, he’s an award-winning writer, entrepreneur and activist who is one of the foremost leaders in neurodiversity, education reform, and career pathways for at risk youth. His books, including “The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal,” are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution, and are used in undergraduate and graduate programs at universities and colleges across the country. Jonathan has lectured in 49 states and 5 countries, and has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, HBO, NPR and more.


    On Thurs., May 16, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll hear from Dr. Samuel Betances, a former school dropout who went on to earn two graduate degrees from Harvard. Now he’s a senior diversity consultant who inspires willing learners to excel. Dr. Betances is passionate about social justice and increasing the cultural competencies of mission-driven teams for educating ready-to-learn urban students immersed in poverty. His books are well received by principals, educators, students and parents, including his most recent release, “Ten Steps to the Head of the Class: A Handbook for Middle School Students.”


    On Fri., May 17, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll learn from Dr. Michele Borba, an internationally-known educator, author and bullying expert. Her realistic approach is stopping bullying in its tracks, by bolstering empathy and social-emotional intelligence. Her proposal, “Ending School Violence and Bullying” (SB1667) was signed into California law in 2002. Dr. Borba is an award-winning author of 24 books translated into 19 languages. She is a frequent NBC contributor, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Phil, Dateline, The View, as well as MSNBC, Fox & Friends, CNN, and more.


    Reason #2: Insightful Programs Offer Best Practices—Ready to Launch in Your District

    With a focus on mindfulness for all, our Spring Leadership Conference workshops are designed to encourage, educate and celebrate both leaders and learners. Here is just a sampling of what you can expect. Find a full list at this workshop link.


    • Reducing Anxiety, Stress and Aggression in Students with Autism and Behavioral Disabilities Using Mindfulness Practices
    • Social and Emotional Learning and At-Risk Youth; A Whole-Child Programmatic Approach to Meeting the Needs of Our Most Vulnerable Students
    • A whole child approach to school safety
    • Harnessing the power of resistance
    • School-based interventions without IEPs
    • STEM and problem-based learning with a purpose
    • Building an inclusive culture


    Reason #3: Great Opportunities to Expand Your Resource Base Through Networking

    Last, but not least, you’ll connect with like-minded leaders who are successfully pioneering ideas in their districts. You’ll also have the opportunity to chat with vendors who might be able to provide that pivotal product or service for your programs. Don’t miss the chance to meet that colleague, collaborator or expert who will help you take your district to the next level.


    To register for the 37th Annual NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference on May 15-17, 2019 at Caesars Atlantic City, click on the following links for the registration page, information on hotel reservations and a waiver for overnight lodging.


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  • Inspiring Women Leaders in New Jersey's Schools

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza on 3/6/2019

    Women Leaders



    Women have made great strides professionally in many roles. In New Jersey, they dominate the business world. However, it’s not quite the same in New Jersey’s public schools. If you’re looking at the position of superintendent, more likely than not you’ll find a man at the helm. 


    While New Jersey has an average of 33% percent of Chief Education Officer roles filled by women – ahead of the national average of 24% – we are still actively looking to increase these ranks. 



    Women Mentors Inspire Women Leaders 


    Mentors are key to encourage young female administrators, according to NJASA Secretary Dr. Margaret Dolan, Chief Education Officer, Westfield Public School System; and NJASA Director of Special Projects Judith Rattner, former 2016 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year. Ms. Rattner had an opportunity to mentor nationally as part of the “More Than a Power Lunch” initiative through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA. Ms. Rattner said, “We need to inspire people to serve as mentors and work with people whom we see are effective leaders and sponsor them in new roles.” 


    The NJASA Women’s Leadership Group is key, according to Dr. Dolan. She notes, “We now have representation all over the state, with individuals who have started initiatives in their own county or region.” 


    Dr. Dolan worked with her fellow chief education officers to create a local event in Union County. Despite a massive snowstorm that first year, the conference was a success. Teachers who participated approached the organizers, saying they were inspired to become administrators. 


    Mark Your Calendar: 2 Conferences in March 


    This year, the organizers are expanding their reach. The annual Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on March 14-15, 2019 at The Palace at Somerset Park, in Somerset, NJ. Inspiring speakers, who will chronicle their journey as women in all industries, will share their expertise. Check out the agenda and register today


    On the state level, NJASA was proud to host the Annual Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum and Luncheon, on March 1, 2019.


    Get Involved at the Local, Regional and State Levels 


    I encourage women in New Jersey’s school districts to join in these initiatives. To see more featured events for women leaders and to learn more about the NJASA Women’s Leadership Group, click here


    We’re all working to promote gender, race and ethnic equity within New Jersey’s schools. As positions open up for chief education officers, we hope to have plenty of women leaders poised to fill those roles.

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  • Hot-Button Issues for NJ's Public Schools - Fall 2018

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, Executive Director on 9/20/2018 2:00:00 PM


    Students waiting for School Bus School is in session, and so is the New Jersey State Legislature. In fact, as busy as we’ve been setting up our districts for a new school year, it seems the folks in Trenton have been even busier. So much has transpired since our video of August 28 that we’re eager to share important updates. As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse of public education in New Jersey. Here are the latest issues as of September 17, 2018.


    Look for Proposed Bond on November Ballot
    The state will be placing a $500 million school bond referendum on the November ballot — a compromise from the $1 billion originally proposed. If voters approve the bond, it would support: $350 million — career-technical education and school security in K-12 schools; $50 million — county colleges; and $100 million — school district water infrastructure projects.


    Tragedy Spurs Action on School Bus Safety
    The fatal Paramus school bus incident earlier this year has prompted a flurry of legislative action to address school bus safety concerns. A new law signed by Governor Murphy requires school buses to have shoulder restraints as part of their seatbelts. This boost in safety comes at a cost — of about $7.5 to $10 million a year. In addition, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill that requires suspension of a school bus driver’s license after a certain number of moving violations. It heads to the full Senate next for review. Finally, a series of other bills sought to make bus drivers more accountable. These included thorough investigations of school bus safety, proof of driver physical fitness, and designation and training of school safety personnel. Stay tuned.


    Segregation Lawsuit Could Have Far-Reaching Implications
    A recent lawsuit claims that New Jersey schools are segregated. Since students attend the school nearest their homes, they tend to be similar in race, culture and economic status.
    The Murphy administration has agreed to begin negotiations in this civil suit. This could have an impact on whether parents will be able to send their child to the local neighborhood school. In other states, students spend as much as 45 minutes on a bus to attend school.


    Is Regionalization Best for the Students?
    Senate President Sweeney is calling for a significant regionalization of all New Jersey school districts. If his plan, Path to Progress, advances, New Jersey would have only K-12 school districts. Currently, the plan recommends merging all K-4, K-5, K-6, K-8, and K-9 school districts into K-12 regional districts and establishing two countywide school district pilot programs. Senator Sweeney will be hosting informal meetings regionally with the NJASA membership and his staff to exchange ideas and discuss related issues. NJASA will support regionalization if it’s in the best interest of the students, but this is a decision best made at the local level.

    Stalled on State Assessment
    By this time, PARCC testing was supposed to be history. However, rather than voting it out, the New Jersey State Board of Education (NJSBOE) at its September 12th meeting asked to delay the vote until its October meeting. That could mean there weren’t enough votes against PARCC, and Governor Murphy was being cautious.

    A joint meeting of the Senate/Assembly Education Committees on September 17th with NJDOE Commissioner Repollet and the Department's Senior Staff explored having the Legislature lead the assessment discussion and move to a finalized program rather than transition only away from high school assessments as an interim step. NJASA anticipates the eventual removal of PARCC, and the transition to the next generation of state assessment. The proposed changes include:

    • Streamlining graduation requirements by reducing the number of required tests in high school from six to two;
    • Ensuring that educators and parents receive test data in a timely manner; and
    • Providing flexibility for first-year English learners on the English language proficiency test.


    Daily Recess Put on Hold
    A new law requiring mandatory recess will go into effect a year later than originally announced. The law specifies at least 20 minutes of unstructured playtime daily for K-5 students. Districts now have additional time to adjust their schedules. The mandatory recess law will take effect in the 2019-20 school year.


    Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News
    The NJASA has a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.


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  • NJASA Announces the Distinguished Service Award Winner, Patrick Fletcher of River Dell Regional School District

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza on 5/16/2018 3:05:00 PM

    Patrick Fletcher There are great things happening in the River Dell Regional School District, and we think it’s because of who is at the helm. Meet Patrick Fletcher, the guiding force behind this highly-ranked district, and the recipient of the 2018 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.


    At the helm of the district since 2006, River Dell Regional Superintendent Fletcher has made his mark. Under his leadership, River Dell Regional has been called one of the best public districts in the state -- and nation -- in publications such as NJ Monthly, The Bergen Record, The Star Ledger, Newsweek and US News & World Report.


    He created the first tri-district office of curriculum and instruction as a shared service with two sending districts. He supervised over $29 million in building renovations. He introduced a district-wide technology program and a one-on-one laptop computer initiative for students in grades 7-12. He spearheaded programs to support students with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, to transition from school to work and other educational opportunities. He works hard to ensure his seventh through twelfth grade students are well prepared academically, and well supported socially and emotionally.


    Superintendent Fletcher gets things done in River Dell by understanding people, education, business, and the community. Being a Certified Public Accountant with an active license – and a former school business administrator -- doesn’t hurt when it comes to analyzing school budgets.


    He is most proud of developing a comprehensive special education program that provides the same opportunities to disabled students as their non-disabled peers. It is not uncommon for these students to be a part of an academic awards ceremony, the school musical or a competitive athletic team. Patrick Fletcher also initiated a program to support under-achieving students who do not meet the threshold for special education intervention. As a result, every student succeeds at River Dell.


    But it’s not just his influence within the district. Patrick Fletcher’s service to NJASA, and other professional associations, is truly inspiring. An NJASA member since 1999, he has served as secretary, treasurer, president, immediate past president and currently is a NJASA past president. He also served on NJSIAA’s non-public committee. For his accomplishments in River Dell, he was chosen as the Northern New Jersey Superintendent of the Year by his peers in NJASA in 2014.


    Superintendent Fletcher’s reach in the community is equally pervasive. He is a past president of the Bergen County Business Officials Association and a past president of the Bergen County School Administrators Association. He is a trustee for Bergen County Community College. He was selected as the 2016 Person of the Year for the YMCA of Greater Bergen County. His work with the West Bergen Mental Health Center also earned him a Distinguished Service Award.


    He leads by example, donating his time over the years to such organizations as the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the organization that helped coordinate much of Super Storm Sandy relief efforts. He is working to make a difference—in River Dell and beyond. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, he helped to form the Bergen County Flight Team. Consisting of trained school personnel, the team responds when schools need help in dealing with tragedy and grief. That model is now in wide use across the state.


    Superintendent Fletcher is a constant presence in the classrooms and hallways of his schools, and attends every event. He is deeply engaged in his district and in the success of his students, and he leads by example, inspiring them to make a difference.


    For influencing a generation of students, for helping forge a path for quality education in New Jersey, and for giving his time generously to causes that matter, we salute him. Congratulations, Patrick Fletcher on receiving the 2018 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.

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