Women in Leadership Corner 12.2021
  • Leading in Times of Crisis-

    My Experience at the Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum Breakfast

    On November 19th, 2021, I had the opportunity to attend the Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum and Breakfast sponsored by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. As an aspiring school leader, I am very grateful for the experience, and I would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Jewett, Superintendent of Watchung Hills Regional School District, and Mrs. Beth Scheiderman, Director of Human Resources at Watchung Hills Regional High School for the opportunity. The event brought together a group of successful women leaders to discuss Leadership in Time of Crisis. It was a time to learn about different kinds of crisis situations and recognize the power strong women leaders have in society.

    As I walked in the conference room, it was notable the camaraderie among the attendees along with the pleasant and welcoming demeanor of the event organizers. Right from the start, I knew that the experience was going to be memorable, and it truly was. The first part of the morning began with an opportunity to not only enjoy a delicious breakfast but to also meet and get to know the many women leaders in attendance. It was very nice to see many of the attendees genuinely happy to see and spend time with other women leaders in person again. It was obvious that the goal of the forum was to inspire, motivate and encourage by creating a sense of community amongst women in leadership. As an aspiring school leader, this was particularly meaningful to me because I felt welcomed as if I had the same years of experience as the many women leaders in attendance.

    The first speaker was Dr. Marnie Hazelton, Superintendent of Linden Public Schools, who described her journey through different roles in the world of education. She provided a detailed summary of the obstacles she has faced throughout her career along with the many successes she has experienced as well. Dr. Hazelton is a true testament of resiliency and perseverance. As I heard her story, I started to reflect on my own journey as well. Dr. Hazelton began her career as a NYC Teaching Fellow just as I did. Listening to her experience brought back many memories of my time in the NYC Educational System and the many lessons I learned. I understood her journey and can see myself sharing my story someday. I began to look back to how I started in the world of education and how at that moment I was sitting next to two successful and accomplished women leaders and felt a deep sense of pride. I, like Dr. Hazelton have experienced growth that fortified and solidified my vision of education and who I want to be as a school leader.

    The morning continued with the next speaker Ms. Carol Jones, Chief Nursing Officer at Morristown Medical Center. Ms. Jones shared the challenges endured by the medical community at the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I appreciated the detailed information that Ms. Jones presented because it provided a clear picture of what it was like to be in the medical field at the beginning of the pandemic. The courage, determination and compassion exhibited by the first responders during the time of crisis such as a pandemic is remarkable. Ms. Jones was able to put into perspective what it was like to face new challenges and rise above the obstacles in the medical field to ensure that anyone who needed help would be able to get it. In the world of education, we also strive to provide each student with the best possible education they can get within the resources available.

    The morning concluded with an emotional yet deeply informative presentation by Ms. Cindy Gerlomini. Ms. Gerlomini shared the story of her son Robbie who inspired the books Robbie’s World. She started her presentation describing her son and truly making us get to know Robbie through her words. Robbie’s journey through life as an autistic child in the school system was an incredible story of struggle, feelings of helplessness, perseverance, and most of all compassion. I was taken aback by the strength of the Gerlomini family as their son, Robbie, who lived a happy sometimes challenging life, passed away at such a young age. I was unable to hold back my tears as I heard Ms. Germolini talk about the death of her son and how she has decided to honor her son’s life by writing his story as children’s books to inspire others. Robbie’s story impacted me as a mother, educator, and aspiring school leader.

    The power of women leaders is evident through the different stories shared during the event. Even though the women who shared their stories come from different fields they all showcased exceptional leadership skills, strength and determination to overcome the individual challenges they faced. The lessons shared through the stories were empowering, genuine and emblematic of today’s society. It was an acknowledgement of the different challenges of leadership in crisis, but it was also a celebration of the strength of women in leadership. I look forward to having the opportunity to be a part of such an event again.