Potholes in The Road Forward
“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” —
Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh.
We all were so optimistic at the close of the last school year that September would bring a return to some semblance of normalcy in the school routine. Now, the new school year has begun, and the challenges faced by so many educational leaders remain even more difficult than those of the past year. Covid-19 has found many unwilling hosts in unvaccinated youth and even break-through cases in vaccinated adults. The masking, vaccine, and Covid-19 testing requirements for those in schools have been met with both support and resistance as increasing childhood cases of the disease are reported in those states where schools opened in August. School board meetings have become tumultuous in many towns as proponents and opponents express their concerns, often in disruptive ways. The mandate for in-person attendance for all students has frustrated those parents and educators alike who believe that school district-directed remote learning should continue as an option for parents to choose. Complicating matters, the remains of Hurricane Ida have left some communities with devastation from flooding and high winds. Yet, for so many students, the schoolhouse remains a place of safe refuge during this turmoil.
Educators have welcomed students to school with smiles beneath their masks and cheerful expressions, though muted they might be. School district leaders have led by example, greeting staff and students with optimism and support as they begin the academic year. New Jersey educators are working to have students fully return to in-person learning in an environment focused on their well-being and socialization with their peers. District leaders understand that it is equally important to focus on the emotional and physical health of staff members, striving to create that same supportive environment for them as for students. It is critical as well that you find support for your work and ways to maintain an upbeat and focused approach to your daily routine to inspire confidence and relaxation in those with whom you work.
Frequent conversations among colleagues in each county and participation in personal learning activities will continue to provide an outlet for conversation and mutual awareness as they have throughout the pandemic. NJASA has taken a major step to support members through the inclusion of registration for eight One-Day Seminar programs and the Spring Leadership Conference as part of active membership benefits. These activities provide opportunities for learning and interaction with colleagues across the state who are addressing similar challenges. Participants will share information, discuss strategies, and develop the camaraderie necessary to maintain both job effectiveness and a healthy outlook during these difficult times.
I encourage you to reserve time in your schedule for meaningful conversation with other leaders that can support your work. NJASA provides a platform through committee work, professional development offerings, and conferences in support of a shared mission to maximize the capacity and effectiveness of school leaders through professional development programs and support services. More than ever, the beliefs that guide the work of our organization resonate during our current challenges.
We believe that NJASA Educational Leaders:
- have a vision for education and articulate that vision to the benefit of their students and communities;
- align the organization's purpose and values with those of its members;
- make an essential difference in the lives of children and communities;
- are leadership development professionals who facilitate professional growth and empowerment of others;
- model and generate commitment to shared values;
- attract and energize followers;
- provide a clear sense of direction; and
- are action oriented.
I encourage you to download the NJASA app or visit our newly updated website: http://www.njasa.net to stay abreast of important information and opportunities.
Please stay well!
Richard G. Bozza, Ed.D.
NJASA Executive Director