Three Takeaways from the NJASA Spring Conference 

Some in education think a “Superintendents Comference” and they think this:  

  Or they think this:  

It’s neither! It’s a group of professionals, young and old, together, collaborating to ensure what’s best for our students. 

The NJASA spring conference took place last week. A time for Superintendents and central office personnel to get together, collaborate, hear some great speakers, and “get off the island” to socialize with those in the same position.  Every conference is a little different — this one is much more laid back (no BOE members, teachers, no building level admin) and offers more opportunity to have those paramount face-to-face conversations. 

My takeaways: 

1) Great keynote speakers. There are smart people and there those who are so smart you try to understand how smart they are. Our first keynote was V.A. Shiva Ayyadyarri. Born in India, lived in NJ, and has done lots of things so far in life, like invent email. Seriously.  Never did I ever think I would get to meet the person who invented email. A fascinating lecture on innovation and what we need to do as school leaders.

2) I learned how to incorporate STEAM into a garden. Yes, you read that correctly. The admin team from Mount Laurel (perhaps I’m biased because I live here) presented a great workshop on not only the steps to create a sustainable garden for students to tend to, but how to archive it with student-centered activated from start to finish. Everything from the design to what was being grown was student lead. The garden eventually brought in parents and members of the community to show how they became “stewards of the environment”. Really cool stuff.

3) Conversations with NJASA officials and fellow Superintendents. Whether it was catching up with colleagues over a cup of coffee, or the side conversations in the halls showing people the benefits of social media, nothing is better than seeing everyone together. At one point, Rich Bozza, the NJASA Director, called me over to his table to discuss some current and future programming. This continued into the evening, as pacts of Superintendents showed up by county to discuss various issues. One of the best moments of the evening was to meet with Dr. Lamont Repollet, the Superintendent of Asbury Park. We had a fantastic conversation about Twitter and how to harness its power. I’m glad we connected face to face, and now our doors are open.

As for my presentation, I felt it bombed. The internet cut out, my projector blew a bulb, and my links were not working. BUT – since we were all educators in the room, we adapt, and we go. We still left energized and ready to bring back new apps and extensions to their districts.

All in all, a great conference. Looking forward to wrapping up the school year — and preparing for the next one.


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