On Nov. 15, I was honored to take the oath of office as NJSBA’s president for the 2014-2016 term.

I want to thank the members of the Nominating Committee for their endorsement of my candidacy. I also want to congratulate my fellow officers, with whom I will be working closely with over the next two years. I know these individuals are knowledgeable, caring and hardworking, and I am proud to be serving with them.

We have developed and, the Board of Directors has recently approved, a creative Strategic Plan—one grounded firmly in the advancement of student achievement—to guide our Association through 2017. I am committed to seeing that our goals and our vision for the future of NJSBA are realized. I am confident we will accomplish great things for our Association, for local boards, and most important, for New Jersey’s 1.3 million public school children.

As we know, public education has received more than its share of criticism recently. Suddenly, everyone – entrepreneurs, politicians, corporate executives, and purported educational experts – seems to know what’s best for our children’s education.

When all the posturing subsides, I would submit that those who know what’s best for our children are the citizens of our local communities and the educational professionals we have hired to run our schools. And, as long as board members focus on effective governance and remember to ask, “what’s best for kids?” I’m confident we will continue to provide all of our children with a quality education.

In this, my inaugural School Leader column, I also want to thank some individuals whom I look upon as mentors and supporters.

I want to single out Ray Wiss, NJSBA president emeritus, and John Bulina, NJSBA immediate past president. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge and experience they have freely shared with me. I have benefited tremendously from their guidance, wisdom and friendship over the past four years. I have also admired how they have conducted themselves under fire and how they have handled their responsibilities for our Association with class and dignity. I hope to continue their legacies and follow in their footsteps.

I want to acknowledge my parents (Mary and Don) and my children, Dawn, Patty, and U.S. Army Sgt. David Webster. Sometimes we don’t always appreciate how difficult it can be to balance our family and work lives with being a board of education member. I recognize that it’s not always easy on our kids, either. Our children may be treated differently when mom or dad is a school board member. So we all owe our children a thank you for understanding when we need to spend time away from our families to serve our local school districts.

Our spouses also deserve a shout-out, and I want to thank my wife Carol, herself a teacher, for the support and guidance she has offered in the years I have been a board member.

Donald Webster Jr. president, NJSBA