• Leadership in Action

    Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza at 7/25/2017

    NJASA Distinguished Service Award Honoree Brian Zychowski

    Dr. Brian Zychowski

    John Quincy Adams once wrote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” That quote aptly describes Dr. Brian Zychowski, superintendent of North Brunswick Twp. Public Schools.

    Dr. Zychowski brings 31 years of experience to his district, including 23 as an administrator. He oversees seven schools and a diverse student population of 6,400, and is building an eighth school.  Under his leadership, North Brunswick is successfully meeting both academic and social challenges, and he’s inspiring his staff to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.

    But it’s not just “in district” where Dr. Zychowski is making a difference. His service to NJASA, and other professional associations, is truly inspiring. He’s been a constant presence at NJASA, serving in the following leadership roles:


    • Past President
    • Executive Committee
    • Education and Research Foundation
    • Legislative Committee
    • Vision 2020
    • New Chief School Administrator Mentor

    Dr. Zychowski also has invested time and resources into the next generation of leadership. As part of the NJASA Mentor Program, he has mentored more than 15 first-year administrators seeking a standard school administrators certificate. He helped to facilitate an aspiring superintendent’s academy through Seton Hall University. He advised the Commission of Education on professional standards for School Administrators. He teaches graduate level courses in Educational Leadership at Seton Hall and Montclair State, and has done so in the past at Monmouth University.

    His name is well known on the state level. Dr. Zychowski served on the Governor-Elect’s Educational Transition Committee in 2010. He was Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Educator’s Effectiveness. And in addition to NJASA, he’s active in educational associations throughout the region. Here are just some of the highlights of his involvement:

    Professional Highlights

    • Executive Committee, NJ School Development Council
    • Central NJ Regional Representative for the American Association of School Administrators
    • Executive Board Member, NJ Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development
    • Co-chair, NJ State Advisory Committee on Professional Development for School Leaders
    • Board of Trustees, Middle States Association
    • New Jersey Arts in Education
    • Seton Hall Leadership Council
    • 2010 Governor-Elect’s Educational Transition Committee
    • Chair, Governor’s Task Force on Educator’s Effectiveness

    Deep Sense of Community and Parenting

    In his free time, he’s coaching Little League or basketball. He’s president of the Mendham Recreation Basketball Program and a coach/instructor for Mendham Little League. He’s also a member of the Knights of Columbus and New Brunswick/North Brunswick Rotary International. When time permits, he also enjoys a good game of golf.

    He and his wife, Janina, have six children ranging in ages from 14 to 30. They understand the challenges that students, their families and educators face. Perhaps that’s why he’s so good at what he does.

    For these accomplishments and more, it is my great honor to present Dr. Brian Zychowski with the NJASA Distinguished Service Award for 2017.

    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. Our goal is to help New Jersey students get the best possible education and keep administrative costs down. 


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  • "A Well-Educated Mind Will Always Have More Questions Than Answers." –Helen Keller

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza at 7/7/2017

    "A Well-Educated Mind Will Always Have More Questions Than Answers."

                                                                                           -Helen Keller                                                  

    Over the past few weeks, I enjoyed reading the following articles in The New York Times:

    How Google Took Over the Classroom

    The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting.

    By Natasha Singer May 13, 2017

    The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools

    By Natasha Singer June 6, 2017

    Helen Keller’s quote is an excellent summation of my response to these thought-provoking articles. Simply stated, education, technology and finances are an interesting mix of disciplines. As individual fields of study operating in their respective silos, people have a strong and powerful understanding of their products, devices and services. It is when their goals and business objectives cross boundaries that areas begin to blur and become distorted. 

    We all can concur that technology is changing how teachers instruct and students learn. The days of "chalk and talk" alone are over. Technology advancements are coming at us quickly, and we, as school leaders, have adapted accordingly to ensure that our children can remain globally competitive in today’s world – and tomorrow’s.  Personalization of learning will be driven rapidly by software algorithms that assess student progress and adjust learning tasks to one’s interest and capability, embedding visual and auditory stimulation.

    And yes, it is true, "technology giants have begun remaking the very nature of schooling on a vast scale, using some of the same techniques that have made their companies linchpins of the American economy."

    We must question, however, if the significant loss of individual privacy and the sharing of personal information accruing to the financial benefit of the technology giants is too great a price to be paid for these technology advances.

    Google set up a team in 2013 to create apps specifically for schools, much as Apple marketed personal computers to schools in its genesis, presumably both hoping to gain lifelong subscribers to their brands. "Code.org, a major nonprofit group financed with more than $60 million from Silicon Valley luminaries and their companies, has the stated goal of getting every public school in the United States to teach computer science. It has also helped more than 120 districts to introduce such curriculums, the group said, and has facilitated training workshops for more than 57,000 teachers. And Code.org’s free coding programs, called Hour of Code, have become wildly popular, drawing more than 100 million students worldwide.”

    These examples beg these questions: Are the tech organizations crossing boundaries of personal privacy to their benefit? Do the benefits outweigh the risk? Are there controls that can guarantee security with the use of these technologies? 

    We can see controversies playing out right now with edTPA, a complex sixty-page portfolio submission for teacher candidates created at Stanford University by a sub-division called SCALE and administered and graded by Pearson. Some school districts are refusing to admit student teachers over privacy concerns of student data and images due to the requirement for 20 minutes of video of the practitioner teaching students which is submitted to Pearson for scoring.

    Clearly, technology is not without its challenges. Chief education officers are all wrestling with the same issues, from getting up to speed on new software and hardware; to the changing role of teachers as educational facilitators; to staff limitations with the next level of technology; to 1:1 computing; to personalized learning; and to maintaining student and staff confidentiality.

    Some might think the main impediment to equipping all schools with technology is cost. That is a significant factor; however, it’s less of a hindrance for some districts than you might expect.

    Regardless of who/what is the driving force, our task, as educators, is to teach 21st-century skills to students who will be working in jobs that we can’t even imagine right now. Minimizing technology in their instruction does them a disservice. Which brings us this question - What will New Jersey’s public schools look like in the next decade and beyond? New Jersey’s chief education officers have a vision that will keep its public schools on top and enable students to effectively compete on a global employment stage. It’s rare that we will find educators, politicians and parents in agreement on how to move forward. This lack of agreement can put our students at risk and jeopardize everything we’ve achieved. 

    Here’s where we all agree – There’s a great potential for us to do more with technology. The Association’s Vision 2020 Plan calls for creating a world-class educational experience where technologies are seamlessly integrated to provide a broad range of tools that can be used for teaching and learning within the walls of school and beyond. Success will be realized through strong leadership and continued transformation in our classrooms, assessment standards, culture, and learning environment. We must work to ensure that each child in New Jersey receives an education that prepares him for his future, not for the world of their parents’ past. 

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  • Future Ready: Why the Spring Leadership Conference is Critical

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza at 4/4/2017

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    New Jersey public education is at a dynamic crossroad: politically, nationally and locally.  We’re working with a new federal administration, and soon enough we’ll also have a new governor and legislature. That means, from school funding to special education, school vouchers, graduation standards, and more, we’re waiting to see what will happen.

    This year’s Spring Leadership Conference will be more critical than ever. In a volatile educational landscape where the rules could literally change within a school year, chief education officers have to be nimble and ready for anything. The Spring Leadership Conference serves up a smorgasbord of topics, addressing the “pain points” being faced by New Jersey’s public school districts. These are sessions presented by your peers—leaders who are student-focused, problem-solvers, innovators, motivators, strategic planners and successful implementers in New Jersey’s public schools.

    New Jersey Sessions Offer Practical Advice, Best Practices

    Since Governor Christie’s State-of-the-State message where he asked the legislature for a new funding formula, funding remains top of mind for all of us. Our conference addresses cost-cutting efficiencies, ways to tighten negotiations, pitfalls in strategic planning, and more.

    We’re continuing the push with technology in the classroom, implementing a digital science curriculum and harnessing game-based technology to engage learners. As districts begin to shift the focus to the whole child, we’re offering sessions on character development through web and mobile programs and refining our social media practices.   

    Special education is another hot button topic. A recent federal court decision highlighted the need to raise the bar for services to propel these students to achievement. The conference identifies several ways to do this, through multiple sessions.

    Effective leaders have a vision and work doggedly toward it. The conference will help you to empower your staff by fostering leadership. These, and many other sessions, are designed to help you lead more effectively, and from a position of strength.

    National Keynote Speakers to Inspire, Share Ideas

    The Spring Leadership Conference provides a national perspective from some of the most inspiring names in education today.

    If you don’t know Eric LeGrand, you soon will. This young man was sidelined by a severe spinal injury but that didn’t stop him. Now a sports analyst, author, and founder of his own foundation, Eric has had the opportunity to experience the fullness of life in ways he could not have imagined.

    According to Dr. Steve Constantino, when Every Family’s Engaged, Every Student Learns! That’s the topic of the talk by this teacher, author and entrepreneur who challenges conventional leadership thinking. He’ll share his unique approach to engagement through his Five Simple Principles™ model.

    Southern New Hampshire University was named the 12th most innovative organization in the world by Fast Company magazine. We’ll hear from Raymond J. McNulty, who is Dean of Education. He’ll be talking about being Future Ready Today—Where Best Practices Meet Next Practices.

    In three action-packed days at the Spring Leadership Conference, you will get new ideas and tools for this year and beyond. Our program is future-oriented and based on the standards for professional leadership—which will get you ready to effectively navigate an uncertain educational landscape. Public education is at a dynamic crossroad. Put yourself on the right path for the future.

    To register for the 35th Annual NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference on May 17-19, 2017 at Caesars 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 an uncertain educational landscape—so that students will be ready to take on their future.

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  • "The Best ROI – Our Children"

    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza at 3/7/2017

    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, our nation, and our world.  We, as educational leaders, have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.

    Our critics will comment that "The Best ROI – Our Children" is a self-promoting sound byte that only serves the special interests of education leaders. 

    Well, I am here to tell them they are wrong!

    I suggest they visit a kindergarten class and observe the students’ excitement and eagerness to learn. Then ask them, "Do you ever wonder if one of these bright, energetic students will someday discover the cure for Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, or possibly craft the solution to Global Warming?"

    If, we as a society do not invest in the education of our children, where will our next generation of doctors, educators, elected representatives, and scientists gain the knowledge and skill set to lead us into the future?

    It is disheartening that the Governor’s FY 2018 Budget of $35.5 billion does not value our children as "The Best ROI."

    In reviewing the State of New Jersey FY18 Budget Presentation, February 28, 2017, the Governor’s seven-year record of flat funding under the 2-percent tax levy cap continues to exacerbate the financial difficulties which school districts have been wrestling.

    Additionally, New Jersey’s shrinking revenue base - due to tax decreases - has placed the fiscal stability of school districts in greater peril.

    Yes, the overall FY 2018 recommendation increases funding for pension contributions and post retirement health benefits; however, the funding for operating school districts remains flat.

    But, what does flat funding mean for students, parents, schools, educators and taxpayers?

    School parents and students will be faced with diminished programs and requests for greater out-of-pocket contributions for athletics and co-curricular activities.

    The costs of educating students and operating a school district increase on an annual basis.  And expenses for providing for special education students are rising at a faster rate than those for regular education. Districts are challenged to support increasing costs for special education students within the 2-percent cap to the tax levy.

    Back in September 2016, NJASA gave its support to the school funding reform initiative by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, getting behind legislation that would lead to full funding for all New Jersey schools.

    The Association's support followed the Senate approval of the bill, SCR-119, creating the six-member "State School Funding Aid Fairness Commission" that will develop a five-year plan increasing state aid by $100 million annually to reach full funding.

    This process will produce a long overdue analysis of the school funding system and provide a way to make it better for New Jersey's schools and students.

    Now six-months later, the Governor’s request to the New Jersey Legislature to design a new funding formula within the next 100 days puts greater pressure on the legislators to speed up their review and revision of the current school funding law.  

    NJASA's Vision 2020 plan acknowledges the need for predictable and sufficient funding to ensure world-class performance. Let’s hope that the factors noted here and the Governor's mischief don’t wreak havoc in school funding and result in less opportunity for New Jersey Public School students during the years ahead.

    Chief education officers, with their experience and fiscal acumen, will continue to work with our elected officials in addressing the impact of the State’s fiscal commitment to public education.

    Funding is an on ongoing issue for New Jersey’s schools and NJASA looks forward to a good-faith effort of bipartisan support by our elected officials to work together for the future of New Jersey.


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    Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza at 1/10/2017

    TECHSPO 2017



    Don’t Miss NJASA TECHSPO ’17, New Jersey’s Premier Educational Technology Training and Exhibition Conference for School Leaders

    From 3D printing to virtual reality, there’s no limit to how technology is transforming the educational process in New Jersey’s classrooms. As technology becomes “smarter” and more interactive, school leaders need to stay informed about best practices for smart decisions on technology investment for their districts. 

    You’re invited to attend NJASA’s TECHSPO ‘17 on January 26–27, 2017, at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. TECHSPO is New Jersey’s Premier Educational Technology Training and Exhibition Conference for School Leaders. At TECHSPO ‘17, you’ll experience two days filled with formal sessions and impromptu networking opportunities to share experiences, find solutions, and discover the latest tools and resources in education today. You’ll network with 1,000+ K-12 educators, participate in any of 70+ workshops, and visit a wide array of exhibitors.

    Matt Beaudreau Get ready to be inspired by our keynote speakers. Matt Beaudreau will tell us how to cross the generational divide. As a professor, school administrator, athletic director, and millennial, Matt will give us insight into the upcoming generation known as Gen Z or iGen. He’ll share surprising statistics, laugh-out-loud stories, and frontline-tested strategies to bring back to your district.

    Marc Prensky We’ll also hear from Marc Prensky, who coined the term “Digital Native.” Marc is an internationally known speaker, author, and visionary who thinks that education should be more than academic learning. Education, Marc says, should be about accomplishments that improve our world. He’ll tell us how to develop a young person’s capacity to create powerful projects that do change the world.

    In two action-packed days at TECHSPO ‘17, you will get new ideas and tools for this year and beyond. Workshops will cover the latest in technology and the innovative ways that districts are using it. Examples include:

    • Virtual Reality in the Classroom
    • Digital Citizenship and Character Education
    • The Dirty 30 – Version 4.0
    • Robotics for Special Needs Students
    • What Language Do You Speak? Coding for All
    • Google Professional Development: Keeping Current on the G Suite, Apps, Extensions, and More!
    • From Computer Class to MakerSpace in One Year
    • Student Designers: Robotics Supporting Career-ready Practices

    You’ll also have a chance to connect with educational leaders from around the state so you can problem-solve and brainstorm when you get back to your districts.

    Don’t miss your chance to take your district’s technology program to the next level! 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.


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