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  • Success is a Choice

    Several weeks ago, I had the good fortune to welcome fellow officers, committee chairs and county presidents to a training session at NJASA headquarters where we talked about the 2013-2014 school year. I mentioned in a general sense the challenges that the new year will bring to the surprise of no one in the room.  On a more specific chord, I talked about the importance of NJASA to our students, our public schools and our profession. I referenced our Mission Statement that states:

    The mission of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the unifying professional association of school leaders, is to ensure a superior statewide system of education by influencing and effecting educational policy, regulations and legislation; and by maximizing the capacity and effectiveness of school leaders through professional development programs and support services. 

    Again, no one in the room seemed surprised. But then, I raised a thought that may have altered the norm. I shared that our organization would operate with a theme this year to continuously focus our thinking and guide our efforts. The theme that was presented and hopefully will serve as a reminder of the importance of our work is Success is a Choice. Perhaps a story will help to make the point

    During the darkest days of his presidency, Abraham Lincoln always attended church when he was in town. He would quietly leave the White House and, in the company of an aide, walk the three blocks to the Presbyterian Church. His plan was always to arrive just after the service began and slip in an unlocked side door to avoid disruption. Lincoln always gave his undivided attention to the minister’s sermon due to his love of writing and hearing great messages. At the conclusion of the sermon and before the service ended, Lincoln would exit the same way he entered. On one particular occasion, the President was unusually quiet during his return trip to the White House. The aide sensed a disturbed look on Lincoln’s face, so he asked, “Mr. President, didn’t you agree with the minister’s sermon today.”

    Lincoln thought for a moment and then offered this response: 

    “The sermon message was fine, but the minister forgot the most important part; he forgot to ask us to do something.”

    I don’t want to make the same mistake that the minister did!  For NJASA to uphold its mission, we all have to do something.  J. Martin Kohe, in his book entitled, Your Greatest Power, tells us that, “The greatest power a person possesses is the power to choose!”  Think about that for a moment. We choose what we wear, what we eat (sorry I mentioned that one), what we like and dislike, where we go, what we read and the music we listen to. We can choose to be friendly or unfriendly, cooperative or stubborn, enthusiastic or not, and lovable or miserable.  The choice is ours to make. Obviously, this leads me back to this year’s theme, Success is a Choice.  Success for our students, staff and profession is a choice that we can each make. While many demands intervene in our daily schedules and we all often feel overwhelmed, I have some great news.  When we choose to make our profession successful, we are simultaneously paving the road for student and staff success.

    As you move forward to confront the challenges of public education this year, please think about how you can assist NJASA in meeting its mission.  If we all do something for our profession, we truly will have made success our choice.

    Best wishes for a great year!
    Gary P. McCartney, Ed. D

    NJASA President

    Superintendent of Schools

    South Brunswick School District