After 53 years in public education, including almost 10 years as executive director at the New Jersey School Boards Association, it’s time for me to say goodbye.

But before I do, I want to highlight “the why of NJSBA,” which is to promote the achievement of all students through effective local governance of public education.

I believe in this message with my heart and soul.

The “why” is so important, in fact, that it’s in a frame in my office. I quickly take it down from the wall and show it to anyone who asks what the New Jersey School Boards Association holds sacred. 

It reads, “Effective public education governance requires a full understanding of, and commitment to, student achievement. Recognizing the importance of every child, NJSBA provides training, advocacy, resources, and guidance to empower boards of education to advance student achievement.”

Throughout my tenure here, NJSBA has given board members the tools that are needed to carry out this mission. My job has been made easier by our incredible staff, which I’ve often said is the best of any school boards association in the nation. I will miss them.

NJSBA’s “why,” however, will remain long after I clean out of my office and leave our headquarters on West State Street in Trenton. Our “why” is as ingrained in our Association as it is in our board members.

As a board member, you do what no other public official does: You make decisions that directly affect the lives of children. Every single time you vote, you come back to the why: Is my decision best for kids?

Budget decisions, approving the instructional program, the purchasing of resources, and making sure schools are welcoming places all play a role in helping students succeed. Not some students but every student.

I’ll add that what happens in a classroom between a student and a teacher is the most important interaction within the school district. We all want to help children succeed, and when we work together, we can make a life-changing difference.

I have no doubt that my successor, Dr. Timothy Purnell, will continue to cherish the “why” of NJSBA. He is a true education leader. In 2015, he was named the New Jersey Superintendent of the Year by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and in 2016, was awarded National Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents. His record speaks for itself, and his commitment to New Jersey schools and to children runs deep.

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend my career trying to make a difference in the lives of children. NJSBA and the state’s board members will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Godspeed to you and your families!