The May Delegate Assembly was a bittersweet occasion for me. I completed my term as NJSBA president — one of the greatest honors of my life.

In the four years I have been an NJSBA officer — two as president, and two as vice president for county activities — I’ve witnessed NJSBA’s growing influence over state education policy, improved training and resources for our members, and very real and satisfying progress in other critical areas.

Looking ahead, there are exciting things in store for NJSBA and New Jersey’s public school students.

First, I am optimistic about the growing educational opportunities for kids who aren’t headed to four-year colleges immediately after high school. NJSBA created the Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner, which produced a 2018 report with nearly 70 recommendations to promote best practices and new state and federal policy.

The report is changing conversations among students, parents and educational leaders. There is a growing realization that many well-paying careers do not require a college degree — but do require specialized skills.

Governmental decision-makers are also taking notice. Recently, the State Board of Education proposed changes to teacher certification requirements to give flexibility to candidates for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement. This reflects a recommendation of our Task Force. These changes are expected to increase the pool of CTE teachers.

Clearly, we have “moved the needle” on this issue. I look forward to helping NJSBA continue to increase awareness about the importance of CTE.

A central part of NJSBA’s mission is professional development. Over the years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to serve as a small-group trainer at our weekend New Board Member Orientation. In 2018, we instituted an intensive weekend training program for board leaders. The program is available at no cost to districts, thanks to the support of corporate New Jersey and the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank some special people, including my fellow officers. The four officers for 2017-2019 — myself, Mike McClure, Christy Tighe and Don Webster — have served on boards of education for a combined total of 72 years! That’s a lot of time spent in meetings and in training. On behalf of New Jersey’s schoolchildren, thank you.

In particular, I want to express my appreciation to our immediate past president — Don Webster. Don never hesitates to step up to the plate when it comes to the well-being of students and the NJSBA.

I also want to thank Dr. Larry Feinsod and the NJSBA staff. Without a doubt, NJSBA has the best professional staff in the country. I have never failed to be impressed by their talent and their unflagging efforts on behalf of the Association.

When I reflect on my tenure as NJSBA president, I will always remember the school districts and county associations I have visited, the legislators I have spoken with, and the many meetings with our long-standing allies and new partners. Most of all, I will remember the privilege of speaking with school board members across the state — the dedicated people who work tirelessly on behalf of our children.

Thank you for your commitment to public education and for the opportunity to serve as your president.