Workshop 2016 is quickly approaching. We’re proud to announce that this year’s theme is, “Recognizing the Value of Every Student,” which highlights the importance of working together to ensure that all students have the tools they need to achieve and that we value their unique contributions in the classroom. Student achievement is directly correlated with effective school board leadership – which begins with effective training.

Workshop is a three-day powerhouse of training, exhibits, demonstrations, and networking opportunities, held from Oct. 25 through Oct. 27. The conference, jointly sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, is an ideal opportunity for board members and other school leaders to refresh their knowledge about vital topics in education and to learn valuable strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of their local districts. There will be an abundance of information on best practices, free programming and resources, and successful public/private collaborations. So whatever your interest – labor relations, school law, sustainability, technology, cost savings, shared services, alternative revenue opportunities, teacher evaluations, student achievement – you’re sure to find it at Workshop 2016 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The event will be held Tuesday through Thursday. The Exhibit Floor will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday; while Action Labs, Group Sessions, and Special Sessions will be offered on all three days. Here are some highlights of Workshop 2016.

Workshop 2016 Keynote Speaker

Fredi Lajvardi Fredi Lajvardi Workshop 2016 keynote speaker, Fredi Lajvardi, has engaged, motivated, and challenged students by making science fun and introducing them to the field of robotics for more than two decades. With countless hours spent after school, mentoring the underserved students at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona, Lajvardi drew national attention in 2004, when he entered his diverse high school team in a university-level national underwater robotics competition, where they not only proved their skills and ability to compete at that level, but they placed first, defeating leading universities, including MIT.

First covered by Wired magazine, their inspiring story drew attention from local and national media outlets and led to the acclaimed documentary, Underwater Dreams. In March 2015, the film was selected by President Obama to screen at the White House in honor of National Robotics Week and the launch of the “Let Everyone Dream” Coalition, a national initiative introducing new multi-sector partnerships in support of STEM education for underserved students. Their story was also adapted into the major motion picture, Spare Parts, starring actor and comedian, George Lopez as Lajvardi. Honored with numerous awards, including the IEEE National Outstanding Educator for 2005, the Arizona Department of Education Leadership Award for 2006, and the City of Phoenix Outstanding Teacher of the Year each year from 2005 to 2009, Lajvardi has and continues to be a significant contributor to the increasing interest and awareness of STEM education nationwide. With an effective leadership philosophy, incredible story and a spirited passion for teaching, Lajvardi offers valuable and inspiring insight on fostering teamwork, sparking creativity and helping individuals realize and maximize their potential. Stop by the Investors Bank Theater to see Lajvardi on Wednesday Oct. 26 at 11 a.m.

Training at Workshop

The main focus of Workshop is training. There are several program formats that appeal to different learning styles. Whether you enjoy listening to expert speakers in a large group setting, want short informational sessions that focus on specific topics, or prefer being part of a small group participating in hands-on activities, Workshop 2016 has an option to accommodate different learning preferences.

Action Labs Action Labs are structured to not only teach attendees best practices, but also provide the opportunity to put those theories into practice. These 90-minute sessions will be offered all three days of Workshop and provide attendees with in-depth learning and engaging activities. They are held in the convention center’s small group rooms, and attendance is limited to 48 participants in order to allow for a highly interactive, hands-on session. Seating is available 30 minutes before the session starts, on a first-come basis. Board members can earn one NJSBA Board Member Academy credit for each Action Lab they attend.

This year’s Action Labs address a wide range of topics. Popular topics covered annually at Workshop include leadership, board governance, school finance, superintendent search and labor relations. In addition, there will be Action Labs on other important issues, including health and wellness, strategic planning, the chief school administrator evaluation process, teamwork and student achievement.

Collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education Workshop will feature a unique collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education. NJDOE staff members will be presenting programs on several topics that are especially timely and useful to school leaders. Topics include focusing support on the cycle of teaching and learning; processing data to increase student learning; and how cooperative conversations with parents can build a community of support for children.

Group Sessions Group Sessions are 60 minutes in length, take place in a lecture hall setting, and often feature a panel of experts or multiple presenters. Among this year’s Group Sessions are programs within the following topic tracks: technology, student achievement/learning, finance, alternative funding, governmental relations, curriculum, legal, policy, shared services, school safety, leadership, board governance, anti-bullying and professional development.

Learning Labs Special sessions will be offered at various Learning Labs throughout the Exhibit Floor. Learning Labs provide an introduction to a topic of study and offer participants the chance to decide if they want to dive deeper into training. These sessions are 30 minutes long, content-focused, and less formal than the Group Sessions or Special Sessions. There will also be Learning Labs after the Mock Board session, to allow for further discussion of legal questions that arise during that program. The Learning Lab setting will offer a wide variety of topics and give participants the opportunity to learn and ask questions in a casual setting.

Mandated Training Workshop 2016 will offer the opportunity for school board members and charter school trustees in their second and third years of office, as well as members in the first year of a reappointed/re-elected term, to fulfill their state-mandated training requirements. These in-person sessions will provide the type of interactive training that adds richness to the board member-trainer conversation. The Governance II, III and IV mandated training programs will be offered on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 29. Board members are also welcome to take their 2017 mandated training at Workshop, in advance of the 2017 calendar year.

Special Programs Is your district preparing for negotiations? Do you sit on your school board’s negotiations committee? Back by popular demand, the Labor Relations Mini-Workshop will take place at Workshop 2016 on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 9 a.m.. No ticket is required, but we recommend you get there early, as the session usually fills up fast. Check the program book and app to schedule your day. The 45th Annual School Law Forum, another long-time favorite of Workshop participants, will take place on Thursday, Oct. 27. The program is a full-day review of timely legal issues, and is designed for school law attorneys, board members and administrators.

Mock Board The popular “Mock Board” will return to the Investors Bank Theater on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 1:15 p.m. This year, the first half-hour of the Mock Board meeting will be dedicated to public comment/non-agenda items, offering an opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions of NJSBA’s legal experts. Following the public comment session, attorneys will participate in a half-hour “mock” board of education meeting, featuring the key players discussing hot topics in education. After the presentation, participating attorneys will move from the Investors Bank Theater to the Exhibit Floor Learning Lab locations for an in-depth discussion of legal issues in a more intimate 30-minute Learning Lab session, which will be presented twice during an hour-long period.

Professional Development Credit

Workshop 2016 will offer board members the opportunity to earn NJSBA Academy credits toward board member certifications. In addition, NJSBA has been authorized to issue Qualified Purchasing Agent credits for school business administrators, professional development credits for Certified Educational Facilities Managers (CEFM) and sustainability credits toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.

Programming that meets the qualifications for these credits and certifications will be noted in the program book and in the Workshop 2016 app.

Qualified Purchasing Agent Credits Courses will be offered for those interested in increasing their knowledge of public purchasing, as well as public officials who want the Registered Public Purchasing Official (RPPO) or the Registered Public Purchasing Specialist (RPPS) certification. Business administrators, facility managers and administrators are welcome. Please check your Workshop program book or SCHED, Workshop 2016’s web-based event scheduling program, for a listing of specific programs that satisfy certification requirements.

Exhibit Floor Features

Exhibit Hall The Exhibit Hall at the convention center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday. With more than 300 exhibitors, the hall provides an easy forum for learning about the latest in educational products and services.

NJSBA Services Area: One Stop Shop for Savings How much can your district save by using NJSBA services? Stop by the NJSBA Services area to talk with a professional on how your district can save thousands of dollars a year with the help of NJSBA. Learn about the products, services, and cost-savings opportunities for your district that come with membership in NJSBA. The NJSBA Services area is also the destination for Workshop ribbons and giveaways.

Early this year at NJSBA’s Technology Conference attendees queued up to tour the technology-rich mobile classroom. At Workshop 2016, the bus will be parked on the Exhibit Floor at the Atlantic City Convention Center
Early this year at NJSBA’s Technology Conference attendees queued up to tour the technology-rich mobile classroom. At Workshop 2016, the bus will be parked on the Exhibit Floor at the Atlantic City Convention Center

Tour the Digital Learning Revolution Mobile Classroom!

Step inside a 38-foot classroom-on-wheels and experience a complete mobile solution for schools. Along with inspiring presentations, the Digital Learning Revolution Tour demonstrates solutions for mobile technology integration and brings the full experience to your school’s doorstep. The Digital Learning Revolution Mobile Classroom will be available on the exhibit floor for Tuesday and Wednesday.

21st Century Classroom Public school classrooms today are designed to place a premium on interaction, collaboration and engagement, and provide educational opportunities that were never possible before. The 21st Century Classroom at NJSBA Workshop 2016 will demonstrate how technologies and techniques come together to provide maximum educational value to students. The classroom is designed to facilitate initiatives like bring your own device (BYOD), SmartBoards, distance and integrated video learning, and enhanced collaboration. This working model 21st Century Classroom will demonstrate how technology can integrate with pedagogy to strengthen and reinforce curriculum, enhancing the student’s learning experience.

Advanced Technology at the Atlantic City Convention Center Workshop 2016 will have a multi-carrier distributed antenna system that will assure quality, high-speed mobile device coverage for all Workshop attendees. This will include the convention center’s atrium, exhibit halls, 45 meeting rooms, and ballroom facilities. No matter where you are, whether it is in a group session, or on the Exhibit Floor, you will be able to post that photo of your colleague to the Workshop 2016 app!

Arts at Workshop To emphasize the importance of arts education, and to provide Workshop participants with top-notch entertainment, NJSBA will once again showcase some of the finest student performers in the state. The performance schedule was not available at press time, but will be listed in your program book and will be heard throughout the Exhibit Floor during Workshop.

iSTEAM Command Center and Makerspace This year’s Workshop will feature a completely renovated the iSTEAM Command Center, courtesy of the area sponsor, the United States Army.  This new and improved destination, located on the Exhibit Floor, will engage attendees like never before. The NJSBA iSTEAM Command Center will have demonstration stations that will focus on an integrative approach to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education to provide resources to help schools start or enhance existing iSTEAM programs. The Command Center will also feature the “STEAM Tank Challenge.”

Borrowing the idea from Shark Tank, NJSBA will launch a new STEAM Tank Challenge at Workshop. The Association invites school district teams to compete in creative problem-solving. This new feature will challenge school districts to invent something new, modify an existing product, or identify a situation or problem that needs resolution. The design or solution will be judged in a similar format to Shark Tank; contestants must follow a set of rules and guidelines if the challenge is accepted.

Sustainable and Healthy Schools Center The Sustainable and Healthy Schools Center features a variety of government agencies and non-profit organizations that showcase programs and resources that lead to developing sustainable and healthy environments, along with demonstrations by schools that exemplify best practices in sustainability. This year, the center will feature a Sustainable and Healthy Schools Passport that gives participants the opportunity to collect signatures around the Exhibit Floor and learn about sustainable practices, products and services.

For the third year in a row, Workshop 2016 will be a carbon-neutral event. In an effort to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions generated to meet the needs of the conference, the three host organizations invest in offsetting the carbon footprint. Such a process involves making a donation that pays for reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere elsewhere – such as a renewable energy or reforestation project – to balance out the emissions created.

Recognizing the Value of Every Child…and Board Member As New Jersey’s K-12 students prepare for higher education and 21st century careers, the leaders who govern their schools must also engage in a continuous cycle of professional development and learning. Workshop 2016 will provide board members, charter school trustees and school administrators with the training and resources to help their students thrive in the years ahead. So join us Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 at the Atlantic City Convention Center for Workshop 2016. For more on the conference, including housing and registration information, go to the Workshop website at