Two-way communication—listening and sharing thoughts—is critical to the success of an organization. To build channels of communication, each week I will share with you my “Reflections” on the education issues of the day, important developments within our Association, and ways that we can work together to advance public education. The thoughts of each NJSBA member are just as important as are mine, so I welcome your comments on this and future weekly “Reflections” messages.

After Thanksgiving

By Dr. Larry Feinsod

For many of us, Thanksgiving came a bit too early this year, considering the number of people still recovering from the worst natural disaster in our state’s history. Nonetheless, the holiday—my favorite—provided a much-needed day of peace, a rare opportunity to reflect on the relationships that we prize and on the gifts of life that are too often overlooked.

My wife and I were fortunate to spend the day with family. As we talked about the good times we’ve shared (and will share), my thoughts turned to what our NJSBA family should be thankful for. While there are far too many items to list in this message, I would like to share three for which we should all be thankful:

1. Generosity. When NJSBA began its Hurricane Sandy Outreach effort earlier this month, we anticipated matching a limited group of donors with districts in need. In fact, the outpouring of support from public schools and organizations, from as far away as the West Coast, has been overwhelming. We’ve witnessed the sincerity of out-of-state teachers wanting to adopt a school at the Jersey Shore, youth service organizations hoping to direct their energies toward hard-hit schools, and students in New Jersey classrooms, not far from the storm’s devastation, ready to collect classroom equipment and supplies.

2. Cooperation. On Nov. 17, I attended my first NJSBA Delegate Assembly as executive director. With more than 30 years as a district superintendent, I recognize the importance of well-organized, well-run public meetings. When they go wrong, public policy discussions too easily evolve into gripe sessions, disorder and even chaos. When they go right, participants voice their various positions, and sound policy results. The latter occurred on Nov. 17, and I was genuinely impressed with, and thankful for, the dedication of the NJSBA membership.

3. Achievement. No organization is more concerned about the academic achievement gap and more committed to advancing the education of all students than NJSBA. As you know, it is a critical part of our mission. And Thanksgiving presented a time to reflect on the overall success of our state’s public schools—whether measured by scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, curricular offerings that range from Advanced Placement courses to STEM education, or four-year college admission rates. While appreciative of documented academic success, I am also thankful for the commitment of board members and other local school leaders and their dedication to guaranteeing the right of all children to quality education.

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours.  Post your comments below, or contact me at [email protected].