• October 2014
  • Brian Zychowski
  • Thumbs Up for Commissioner’s Convocation

    I am proud of the accomplishments of my predecessors: Past NJASA Presidents Judith Ann Rattner, 2010-2011; Dr. Andrew Rinko, 2011-2012; Dr. Donna Van Horn, 2012-2013; and Dr. Gary McCartney, 2013-2014. These outstanding educators were most instrumental in reviving New Jersey’s long-standing tradition of hosting the Education Commissioner’s Convocation.

    With the guidance and support of NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza, these visionary leaders were able to restore the concept of a Commissioner’s Convocation that dates back over 30 years to the tenures of Former Commissioner Dr. Fred Burke and Past NJASA Executive Director James A. Moran.

    The Association, an advocate for quality in public education, believes the members of NJASA make an essential difference in the lives of children and communities. So thank you to the NJASA Past Presidents for their foresight to reinforce the pillars of two-way communications between the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and the field superintendents.

    A special thank you to Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe and his senior staff for taking the extra step this year to travel the state. School leaders are pleased with the minimal time away from their districts and the opportunity for one-on-one discussions.

    Now that all the formalities and logistics of hosting the Commissioner’s Convocations have been addressed, I want to turn your attention to the content of the information presented and discussed. On September 30th, the first Convocation, the menu of options for high school graduation requirements of the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 was introduced. NJASA applauds the Department for this action.

    In addition, the Acting Commissioner’s remarks focused on, "Rising to the Challenge: the State of Education in New Jersey." He stressed the importance of striving to do better while utilizing our resources more effectively to improve instruction. 

    The Acting Commissioner, speaking from first-hand experience as Former President of Burlington County College, acknowledged that we must close the achievement gaps. He emphasized that the achievement gap was a priority during his first tenure as Commissioner and it continues to challenge all of us today. He noted that all students should leave our high schools having mastered the knowledge and skills needed to be successful regardless of embarking on a tertiary education and/or career path.

    Joining in the presentation with Acting Commissioner Hespe was Assistant Commissioner/Chief Performance Officer Bari Erlichson, Acting Chief Academic Officer/Director of Academic Standards Kimberly Harrington, and Assistant Commissioner/Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman.

    The third and final regional Convocation is scheduled for Monday, November 10th, at Hammonton High School in Hammonton, Atlantic County. If you were unable to attend the previous Convocations, I highly recommend you join us on November 10th. It is two-way communications vehicle that provides you with an opportunity for conversation with the Acting Education Commissioner and the NJDOE senior staff. It is also an occasion for NJDOE to reap the knowledge and experience of the best sounding board possible – you – the Chief Education Officer.