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  • J. Majka
  • An Unique Pathway

    I would say the vast majority of us were forever changed, in one way or another, by the events of September 11, 2001. I was one of those forever changed. That day started as a beautiful, crisp early fall morning. It ended as a day of complete tragedy.

    That day also began with me in the New York City, working as a corporate attorney for Paul Hastings. That day would end with me beginning the process of becoming a teacher. As I waited at the 38th Street NY Waterway pier for hours, watching the aftermath, I realized how much hate must exist for something like this to take place. I needed to be in a classroom, making a difference in as many lives as possible.

    In retrospect, I had always wanted to teach. I have vivid, positive memories of almost every teacher I have ever had. In fact, after my dad passed when I was ten, outside of my mother, I sought the advice and guidance of two teachers in particular. I still do to this day. I realized at an early age, the impact a teacher can have on someone’s life. I realized on September 11, 2001, that I wanted to positively impact as many lives as possible.

    When I arrived back in Hoboken that night, I began to search the internet to find out what I had to do to become a teacher. Twenty minutes into my research, I realized New Jersey had an alternate route program. Once enrolled, Certificate of Eligibility in hand, I began to interview. In early July of 2002, I was hired as a middle school social studies teacher in Brick. Over the course of the next six years, I had the privilege of having the opportunity to positively impact hundreds of children’s lives, not just academically, but also guiding them down the road to becoming young adults who truly care about making this world a better place. It was during this period also that the greatest thing in my life happened… I met my wife. We have been together for over nine years and have 3 wonderful children.

    As time went by in Brick, I realized that I wanted to have a positive impact on more children. For the second time, I was happy to see that New Jersey had an alternate route for administration. I proceeded to enroll in the NJEXCEL program. The program was an intensive course of study, ultimately leading to my supervisor, principal and central administration certifications. NJEXCEL was a wonderful program. The instructors were top notch and did a fantastic job of passing their wisdom on to their students. Furthermore, the mentors I received guidance from during NJEXCEL, continue to provide guidance whenever the need arises. 

    Upon completion of NJEXCEL, after roughly seven months of interviewing, I was hired as a Vice Principal at Hillsborough High School. Under the guidance of an outstanding superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, and vice principal, I was able to gain experience wearing the numerous hats a building level administrator must wear. Upon completing my third year at the high school, I was hired as principal of Woodfern Elementary School. Although my time at Woodfern was short, the experience and the people were wonderful.

    My experiences in Brick and Hillsborough ultimately enabled my transition to central administration. For the last year and a half, I have been the principal/superintendent of Bradley Beach Elementary School. I am looking forward to the years ahead in Bradley Beach, striving every day to impact every child positively. Beach is an outstanding community, filled with children ready to make a positive impact on the 21st Century!

    That day over a decade ago changed my life. The tragedy of that day pushed me to be less selfish. People often ask me why did I give up such a “great” career. The answer is simple… For a greater one.