Whether you are a veteran to the New Jersey School Boards Association Annual Workshop conference or are new to the education community, now is the time to experience the most extensive training and information conference for school officials in New Jersey.

The event will take place live, virtually, from Oct. 20 – 22, 2020, and is co-sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association for School Administrators, and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials.

The Move to Virtual  After careful monitoring of the COVID-19 health crisis, in May, the New Jersey School Boards Association made the tough decision not to hold the in-person Workshop 2020 conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Several factors contributed to this decision. The first priority was a concern for the health and safety of the community. In addition, Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order, which continues the prohibition of large gatherings, would not make such an event permissible. When factoring in the current data, there was no guarantee that restrictions would lift by the fall. Nonetheless, NJSBA remained committed to meeting the professional development needs of school leaders. So the Association decided to conduct a virtual Workshop.

About Virtual Workshop 2020 The large-scale virtual event will offer multiple tracks of live training sessions over three full days. It will also feature compelling keynote speakers, an interactive exhibit floor, and exciting special events.

365-Days of Conference Access Unlike the in-person conference, NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop sessions will be available to watch on-demand for a full year. Every year, NJSBA hears from attendees who wish they could participate in more Workshop sessions. Because of this exciting new benefit, missing a “live” session does not mean that you have to miss out on valuable content. You will also have an opportunity to revisit the virtual exhibit floor to connect with vendors and access resources for your district. 

“NJSBA is excited to introduce our Virtual Workshop,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “It will feature the same fantastic training that this conference always delivers safely and conveniently for all attendees. Plus, the sessions will be available for attendees to view for a full year.”

Adjusting for a Virtual Environment NJSBA’s in-person Workshop conference always delivers content and resources on everything school leaders need to know to drive their districts forward, now and in the future. NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop is no different in this respect.

We understand that attending sessions virtually is a different experience from being face-to-face. Our Workshop team is designing NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop to provide the learning experience our members have come to expect, in a format created for online learning, to ensure maximum engagement of participants and the effective delivery of training and information.

In the absence of in-person training events, members of the education community have been turning to NJSBA virtual events in record numbers. Tens of thousands of participants are taking part in our one-day conferences, virtual county school boards association meetings, webinars, self-paced courses, Facebook Live events, and podcasts. Our experience provides exceptional insight into online content delivery, and we are continuing to work with experts in the field to hone programs for NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop.

Meeting the Challenges of a “New Normal” We are all in unchartered territory. In the 2020–2021 school year, every school district in New Jersey will face extraordinary challenges. To this end, NJSBA is curating training programs and resources from experts across the state to address all of the new and unprecedented challenges facing school districts.

“Everyone understands that the COVID-19 pandemic is the dominating concern for the school year.  It will be an exceptionally challenging time as we continue to experience disruptions in our lives,” said Dr. Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. “On a positive note, Virtual Workshop will continue to assist school leaders, their boards, and communities in the arduous task regarding the events taking place in the educational community and around the world. I look forward to seeing everyone virtually.”

“While the world we are living in is unlike any which we have previously experienced, one element remains consistent. That element is the need to remain current with content related to the issues and operations our members encounter on a daily basis,” said Susan Young, executive director, New Jersey Association of School Business Officials. “As a co-sponsor of NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop, we are excited about the vast expanse of sessions that enable our members to obtain updates on a multitude of topics. This year the Virtual Workshop makes the information even more readily available and convenient. We look forward to participating in this exciting conference.”


NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop will feature 100+ sessions—covering the most critical topics to the education community.

Sessions will tackle the toughest issues related to the current challenges in education, including remote instruction and delivery, special education instruction, hybrid education, legal and policy concerns with hybrid and online learning, arts education during the pandemic, the digital divide, social justice, food service (distribution/delivery), inherent bias and equity concerns, social and emotional learning, keeping students safe, logistics related to reopening, legislative issues, and much more.

Special Sessions The Virtual Workshop training schedule was still under development as this article was going to press. For a full schedule of events, visit virtualworkshop.njsba.org. Below are highlights of confirmed special sessions.

Keynote Speaker Anna Maria Chávez Will Speak on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. The executive director and chief executive officer of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), Anna Maria Chávez, will kick off NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop with an inspiring keynote address. To advance NSBA’s mission, serve its members, and champion educational equity, Chávez leads a team of policy, member services, legal, communications, and business experts.

Growing up in Eloy, Arizona, Chávez developed key leadership skills that would propel her into a career of public service. Her desire to transform the world through servant leadership led her to Yale University, and she later pursued a Juris doctorate at the University of Arizona. She held numerous posts in President Bill Clinton’s administration before returning to Arizona to serve then-governor Janet Napolitano.

Chávez’s success led to her appointment as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, where she served from 2011-2016 as the first woman of color to lead the 104-year group with 2.7 million members in over 90 countries and 59 million alumnae in America. In 2016, she was named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine, cited for her vision and creativity in working to revitalize the Girl Scout brand for a new century. She was also recognized by Fast Company magazine in its annual list of the most creative people in business.

Chávez’s keen insights and dynamic presentations have inspired thousands of individuals around the globe to lead authentically and she has helped organizations work together more collaboratively and create dynamic impact. Chávez has appeared on CBS News, NBC’s The Today Show, FOX News Channel, CNBC’s Squawk Box, CNN, Bloomberg Radio, National Public Radio, and she was a contributing writer on Huffington Post.

The Legislative Update Session Featuring members of New Jersey’s legislature, including Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, the Legislative Update Session, a traditional in-person Workshop favorite, is going virtual. This interactive session will provide an update and view from Trenton on the education issues impacting New Jersey school districts. The Legislative Update will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at noon.

Lessons Learned: Student Achievement, COVID-19, and the Digital Divide When COVID-19 forced all schools to provide remote instruction, it highlighted the existing digital divide and brought into focus the technology barriers many students in rural, suburban and urban areas face daily.  While this divide and its impact on student achievement is not a new phenomenon, there are new tools to help districts support their students, not only during crises but also in preparing for 21st-century learning. Lessons Learned: Student Achievement, COVID-19, and the Digital Divide will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 11 a.m.

Social Justice: The Role of Schools Social justice has been a topic that schools have been addressing for generations, and these challenges are especially evident today. In this forum, the co-facilitators will discuss the impact of social justice movements on schools and the constructive role(s) that schools can have to address. Social Justice: The Role of Schools will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.


NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop 2020 will celebrate the students in New Jersey’s districts. Join us each night of the conference, for a different program highlighting student talents and creativity.

Student Film Showcase, Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. The New Jersey School Boards Association is teaming up with the Garden State Film Festival, Artists Alike Studios, the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission, and Steven Van Zandt’s TeachRock initiative and Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to present the Student Film Showcase at NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop 2020.

This year’s showcase will feature the “Best of the Fest” in student films, including entries from the new “New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short” Garden State Film Festival category, which is reserved for films that are written, directed, and filmed by New Jersey high school and younger grade school students. Additional categories, including high school documentary short, animation/stop motion, drama, narrative, public service announcements, suspense, experimental, and comedy.

Student Arts in Education Showcase, Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. The Arts in Education Showcase, produced in partnership with the NJ Governor’s Awards in Arts Education and Arts Ed NJ, will feature visual arts, music, theater, dance, and more. The event will shine a light on achievements in arts education by New Jersey’s talented students.

Esports in Education Showcase, Thursday, Oct. 21, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. Esports is more than just video games. It has created a place for students who don’t usually play sports to have a team and learn to strategize. It is also a great way to teach social-emotional learning and for students to find a pipeline to college.

Virtual Workshop 2020 will feature an esports competition, in partnership with Horizon AVL and Garden State Esports. This live-action event will be a bracket-style tournament, completely live, and will include commentators that will follow the action in real-time. The game, Rocket League (insert copyright symbol), is a fast-paced vehicular soccer game making it critical for teams to communicate and scheme quickly as a unit. New Jersey’s Knollwood Middle School in Fair Haven, the first middle school in the country to create a video gaming team, will display why esports is one of the fastest-growing industries.

Registration Details To make training accessible to more members of the district, NJSBA is offering a special group rate of $900 for up to 25 team members, including school board members, superintendents, school business administrators, IT directors, facilities directors, principals, and other district staff. That’s only $36 per person. The individual member rate is $199 per person. School business administrators must handle registration for their districts. Registration is available online.

We are looking forward to an exciting and informative event, and look forward to “seeing” you virtually, from Oct. 20 – 22, 2020.

Lauren Cuervo is NJSBA marketing and website manager.