During my more than four decades in public education, I have found that board members are truly unsung heroes. They work tirelessly for educational excellence in their districts. In fact, no other public officials impact the lives of children more than school board members.

Board membership requires enormous time, effort and commitment. Whether elected or appointed, board members spend countless hours attending meetings, talking to community members, poring over documents, and taking additional training.

Every year, I attend county school board association meetings across the state. This year, I am visiting all 21 counties. As always, I am impressed by the number of board members who willingly give up yet another evening at home to learn about developments in school law, standards and assessments, the legislative arena and other key areas.

This is another reminder of the dedication of our state’s local school board members who, for no compensation, work as hard, or harder, on board business as they would at a job. They are special human beings indeed.

New Jersey’s board members also undergo extensive professional development, which makes them the best-trained public officials in the state. Our goal at NJSBA is for our state’s school board members to be the best trained in the nation. And, with continual improvement to our in-person and online programming, we are well on our way to reaching that goal.

There is no question that the best educational policy decisions are made by those closest to the students. That principle makes local board oversight of education critical to the success of our schools and students.

My father once said that volunteering your time and your skills to a worthy cause is the rent we pay for having a good life ourselves. In the case of board members, the effort results in a better life for children, which has an enormous impact upon the very fiber of our society.

To New Jersey’s 5,000 school board members and charter school trustees, I express the deepest gratitude for your incredible service to New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students.

* The title of my article comes from a 2013 book by noted educational consultant and trainer Jim Burgett.