As a lifelong educator, September has always held a special place in my heart. It’s an exciting time of new beginnings and a chance to build on the progress that was made during the previous year.

When I was a school building leader, each year I’d give my teachers a shell to remind them of the beauty, diversity, and sometimes, frailty of the students that would enter the classroom. I was inspired to do this by the writings of author Mary Madden, and it was a reminder of the enormous responsibility they have to ensure that every student has the opportunities and tools they need — and deserve — to be successful.

Board members also have a weighty responsibility, compounded by the environment and circumstances that presently beset us. And there are no other public officials that have a greater impact on the lives of children than board of education members. They must provide the resources, leadership and policies in their district that are necessary so that all children can achieve.  And they must do so while also representing the needs, hopes and aspirations of their community.

For board members, it’s a responsibility that can, at times, seem daunting.

But rest assured that the New Jersey School Boards Association is here for you every step of the way, with training, advocacy and resources to help you be effective.

A new school year is the ideal time to make a commitment to your own professional development as a board member, and NJSBA is planning a full array of training sessions.

Our return to an in-person Workshop at the Atlantic City Convention Center is less than two months away. With more than 250 training sessions, Workshop is the state’s premier training conference for school officials. The conference can also provide you with valuable opportunities to network and tap into the collective knowledge of your fellow board members.

This year’s county school boards association meetings begin next week and will feature sessions on subjects ranging from school security to putting a budget together in inflationary times. I would remind members that because meetings are hybrid – with both an in-person and an online component, it is easy to attend county meetings outside of your home county.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., we will host a virtual Labor and Employment Summit program, that will cover critical topics, including recruitment and hiring, avoiding workplace discrimination claims, health care under Chapter 44 and negotiation strategies.

Meanwhile, NJSBA’s full roster of online training, including mandated training, webinars and past Facebook Live programs, is available through our website at your convenience.

Members who need other types of assistance can reach out to their field service representative, who can act as a guide through the Association’s services. The NJSBA website has an easy-to-use function to help you find your district’s FSR. Our experts in school law, policy and labor relations are also always available to answer your questions.

The year ahead will undoubtedly bring challenges for all of us. But we know that the best preparation for exceptional challenges is to be exceptionally well-informed. There’s no better way to do that than to attend NJSBA training sessions.

On behalf of New Jersey’s 1.3 million public school students, I want to thank you for all that you do, and I wish you a wonderful 2022-2023 school year.