The countdown to Workshop 2019 is on. This year’s conference theme, “Imagine. Create. Lead,” will explore the limitless potential of New Jersey public education.

Workshop will offer more than 250 training opportunities starting Monday, Oct. 21 and going through Thursday, Oct. 24. Jointly sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, Workshop is an ideal opportunity for board members and other school leaders to refresh their knowledge about vital topics in education and to learn valuable strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of their local district.

The conference will offer an abundance of information on best practices, free programming and resources, and successful public/private collaborations. Workshop group registration covers 20 team members which may include the school board, business administrator, superintendent, facilities managers, curriculum professionals, IT staff, and other district professionals. So whatever your interest — technology, cost savings, shared services, sustainability, alternative revenue opportunities, teacher evaluations, student achievement — you’re sure to find it at Workshop 2019 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The Exhibit Floor will be open on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and Wednesday, Oct. 23; while Action Labs, Group Sessions, and Special Sessions will be offered on all four days. Read on for some highlights of Workshop 2019.

Keynote Speaker

Ian Hockley, Dylan's Wings of ChangeIan Hockley, Dylan’s Wings of Change executive director, will be the keynote speaker at Workshop 2019. Ian will share his son Dylan’s story.

Dylan Hockley was one of 20 young children and six staff members killed in the tragic 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

According to Ian Hockley, the 6-year-old boy with autism “radiated pure love” and described himself as “a beautiful butterfly” to his mother.

Ian Hockley has channeled his grief into the formation of a foundation, Dylan’s Wings of Change, in his son’s memory. The foundation has created the “Wingman” program, which encourages students to go above and beyond for others, and to learn the value of empathy and understanding.

“School climate and our students’ emotional health and well-being are focal points for our Association,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director. “NJSBA is proud to have Ian Hockley as our keynote speaker for Workshop 2019. He’s a remarkable human being with a strong message about the importance of social-emotional learning for our students.”

Ian will speak about the epidemic of social isolation and exclusion today and the need for social and emotional programming in our schools. His address will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Atlantic City Convention Center in the Exhibit Hall Theater.

Training at Workshop The main focus of Workshop is training. There are several program formats that appeal to different learning styles. Whether you enjoy listening to expert speakers in a large group setting, want short informational sessions that focus on specific topics, or prefer being part of a small group participating in hands-on activities, Workshop 2019 has every option for you to learn at your pace.

Action Labs Action Labs are structured to not only teach attendees best practices, but also provide the opportunity to put those theories into practice. These 90-minute sessions will be offered all four days of Workshop and provide attendees with in-depth learning and engaging activities. They are held in the convention center’s small group rooms, and attendance is limited to 48 participants to allow for a highly interactive, hands-on session. Seating is available 30 minutes before the session starts, on a first-come basis. Board members can earn one NJSBA Board Member Academy credit for each Action Lab they attend.

This year’s Action Labs address a wide range of topics including leadership, board governance, school finance, superintendent search and labor relations, health and wellness, strategic planning, the chief school administrator evaluation process, teamwork, and student achievement.

Collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education Workshop will feature a training collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education. NJDOE staff members will be presenting programs on several topics that are especially timely and useful to school leaders. Topics include focusing support on the cycle of teaching and learning; processing data to increase student learning; and school security and safety.

Group Sessions Group Sessions are 60 minutes in length, take place in a lecture hall setting, and often feature a panel of experts or multiple presenters. Among this year’s Group Sessions are programs within the following tracks: technology, student achievement/learning, finance, alternative funding, governmental relations, curriculum, legal, policy, shared services, school safety, leadership, board governance, anti-bullying and professional development.

Learning Labs Sessions will be offered at various Learning Labs throughout the Exhibit Floor. Learning Labs provide an introduction to a topic of study and offer participants the chance to decide if they want to dive deeper into training. These sessions are 30 minutes long, content-focused, and less formal than the Group Sessions or Special Sessions. The Learning Lab setting will offer a wide variety of topics and give participants the opportunity to learn and ask questions in a casual setting.

Mandated Training Workshop 2019 will offer the opportunity for school board members and charter school trustees in their first, second and third years of office, as well as members in the first year of a reappointed/re-elected term, to fulfill their state-mandated training requirements. These in-person sessions will provide the type of interactive training that adds richness to the board member-trainer conversation. Governance I will be offered Monday, Oct. 21 while Governance II, III and IV programs will be offered on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 24. Board members are also welcome to take their 2020 mandated training at Workshop, in advance of the 2020 calendar year.

Special Programs Is your district preparing for negotiations? Are there concerns about the management-union environment in your district? Join us at the Labor Relations Mini-Workshop. This 90-minute program updates board members and administrators on a variety of labor relations topics.  The session is an important learning and networking opportunity for anyone involved in collective negotiations and administering the contract. Come hear an experienced panel of practitioners provide practical information and advice on current negotiations topics.

The 49th Annual School Law Forum, another long-time favorite of Workshop participants, will take place at Workshop on Thursday, Oct. 24. The program is a full-day review of timely legal issues and is designed for school law attorneys, board members, and administrators. Separate registration is required for the School Law Forum.

Zen Den Kick your feet up and relax in the brand new Zen Den in Room 307. This space is for attendees to relax and connect with their inner self while being present in the moment. Learn about this new and emerging area as well as how it’s becoming a popular ‘Social-Emotional Learning’ (SEL) option for students and districts.

Professional Development Credit Workshop 2019 will offer board members the opportunity to earn NJSBA Academy credits toward board member certifications. In addition, NJSBA has been authorized to issue Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA) credits for School Business Administrators, professional development credits for Certified Educational Facilities Managers (CEFM) and sustainability credits toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools Certification. Courses will be offered for those interested in increasing their knowledge of public purchasing, as well as public officials who want the Registered Public Purchasing Official (RPPO) or the Registered Public Purchasing Specialist (RPPS) certification. Business administrators, facility managers, and administrators are welcome. Please check your Workshop program book or the Workshop mobile app for a listing of specific programs that satisfy certification requirements.

Workshop 2019 will also offer expanded training for school technology professionals, as part of NJSBA’s commitment to helping schools reach their technology goals, such as the Future Ready program.
Programming that meets the qualifications for these credits and certifications will be noted in the program book and the Workshop 2019 app.

Exhibit Floor Features

Exhibit Floor The Exhibit Floor at the Convention Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday. With more than 300 exhibitors, the hall provides an easy forum for learning about the latest in educational products and services.

NJSBA Services Area: One-Stop Shop for Savings How much can your district save by using NJSBA services? Stop by the NJSBA Services area to talk with a professional on how your district can save thousands of dollars a year with the help of NJSBA. Learn about the products, services, and cost-savings opportunities for your district that comes with membership in NJSBA. The NJSBA Services area is also the destination for Workshop ribbons and giveaways.

Student Film Showcase  The New Jersey School Boards Association is teaming up with Artists Alike Studios, the Garden State Film Festival, and Steven Van Zandt’s TeachRock initiative and Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to present Workshop 2019 Film Showcase at NJSBA’s annual conference, Workshop 2019. The Film Showcase will take place on the Exhibit Floor on Oct. 22 and 23. Students participating in the film showcase will participate in a live, moderated question and answer session following the screening of their film.

NJSBA Future Ready–NJ Center  NJSBA’s Future Ready-NJ Center will offer attendees professional development opportunities throughout the conference in alignment with the Future Ready initiative. This unique area on the Exhibit Floor will highlight the schools in New Jersey that have earned certification. Do not miss this opportunity to celebrate and learn from New Jersey schools that have dedicated themselves to best prepare our students for success in college, career, and citizenship in a digital age. The Future Ready–NJ Center will also offer the opportunity for districts to learn how to achieve the certification with the help of NJSBA service providers.

Wellness Center The Wellness Center will have different sessions focused on professional development for staff and administrators on SEL (social-emotional learning) related activities. Presentations will include breathing yoga and mindfulness training.

Innovative Classroom- Powered by SHI Public school classrooms today are designed to place a premium on interaction, collaboration, and engagement, and provide educational opportunities that were never possible before. The Innovative Classroom at NJSBA’s Workshop 2019 will demonstrate how technologies and techniques come together to provide maximum educational value to students. The classroom is designed to facilitate initiatives like bring your own device (BYOD), SmartBoards, distance and integrated video learning, and enhanced collaboration. This working model of a classroom will demonstrate how technology can integrate with pedagogy to strengthen and reinforce the curriculum, enhancing the student’s learning experience.

County Café While on the Exhibit Floor, make sure to visit the Johnston Communications County Café, a welcome oasis where attendees can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the conference. Relax, grab a cup of coffee and a cookie, and network with the other board members and with the NJSBA staff, state officers, and the county association officers.

“EdCamp” Sessions An ‘EdCamp’ is participant-driven professional development, and at Workshop, the sessions will feature board member-to-board member education and discussion sessions. Members are encouraged to stop by Room 319 to pin a topic to the board, then come back later in the day to take part in the sessions and to take a deeper dive into the selected topics.

Advanced Technology at the Atlantic City Convention Center Workshop 2019 will have a multi-carrier distributed antenna system that will assure quality, high-speed mobile device coverage for all Workshop attendees. This will include the Convention Center’s atrium, Exhibit Floor, 45 meeting rooms, and ballroom facilities.

Arts at Workshop To emphasize the importance of arts education, and to provide Workshop participants with top-notch entertainment, NJSBA will once again showcase some of the finest student performers in the state. The performance schedule was not available at press time, but will be listed in your program book and will be heard throughout the Exhibit Floor during Workshop.

I-STEAM Green Command Center and STEAM Tank This year’s Workshop will feature an updated I-STEAM Green Command Center. This new and improved destination, located on the Exhibit Floor, will engage attendees like never before.

The NJSBA I-STEAM Green Command Center will have demonstration stations focusing on an integrative approach to STEAM education and will provide resources and experts to help schools start or enhance existing I-STEAM programs. The center will also feature the “STEAM Tank Challenge” which will host elementary schools (K-6), middle schools, (7-8) and high school (9-12) presentations.

This reprised Workshop feature will challenge teams from school districts to invent something new, modify an existing product, or identify a situation or problem that needs resolution. The design or solution will be judged in a similar format to Shark Tank, and contestants must follow a set of rules and guidelines if the challenge is accepted.

Sustainable Jersey for Schools Center The Sustainable Jersey for Schools Center will feature numerous ways schools can engage in sustainability practices. The center will also offer an opportunity to learn more about the Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification process.

For the sixth consecutive year, Workshop 2019 will be a carbon-neutral event. In an effort to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions generated to meet the needs of the conference, the three host organizations invest in offsetting the carbon footprint. Such a process involves making a donation that pays for reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere elsewhere — such as a renewable energy or reforestation project — to balance out the emissions created.

Workshop 2019: Imagine. Create. Lead. As New Jersey’s students prepare for higher education and 21st-century careers, the leaders who govern their schools must also engage in a continuous cycle of professional development and learning. Workshop 2019 will provide board members, charter school trustees and school administrators with the training and resources needed to help their students thrive in the years ahead. So join us, Oct. 21 to Oct. 24, at the Atlantic City Convention Center for Workshop 2019. For more on the conference, including housing and registration information, go to the Workshop website at

Michael Kvidahl is NJSBA’s digital marketing specialist.