For its 8,000 participants, NJSBA’s annual Workshop is an exciting and informative training event that takes place a few days each October, although its benefit for local school boards and the state’s education leaders extends throughout the year. At NJSBA headquarters, planning for Workshop is a year-round activity that includes feedback, evaluation, and improvement.

In fact, immediately after completing one Workshop, we turn our attention to planning the next year’s program. Here, feedback from the education community is critical. And what our members have told us can be summed up in one word: more. More training and more time to share concerns and ideas with fellow board members – in other words, more of the unique experience that Workshop provides.

So for 2017, we are expanding Workshop, by adding another day of training, on Monday, Oct. 23.

Monday’s sessions will include a special track on leadership, designed for school board presidents and vice presidents and members who aspire to those roles. For the first time in years, Governance I, the state-mandated training program for board members in their first year of service, will be offered at Workshop, on Oct. 23. And several exciting small group programs will also take place that day.

Workshop is co-sponsored with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials. It is the largest training and professional development conference for our state’s public school leaders. The theme for this year’s event is “Education for a Common Purpose.” It reflects the stake that all citizens have in the achievement and well-being of our students.

In all, the four-day program, Oct. 23-26 at the Atlantic City Convention Center, will provide more than 250 learning opportunities on issues critical to the governance of public education and student achievement. Workshop’s major speakers will include Dr. Maurice Elias of Rutgers University, the nation’s preeminent expert on social-emotional learning and character development, as well as state education and political leaders. We will have special programs on labor relations, school law, I-STEAM and sustainable practices.

Thanks to approval by New Jersey Commissioner of Education Kimberley Harrington, school officials will be able to take advantage of the four-day Workshop program. The commissioner expanded the waiver previously granted for reimbursement of overnight accommodations at the annual training event. As a result, board members will be able to attend Monday training, and continue their professional development on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

In February, we announced the expansion of Workshop. From all indications, the idea is a hit with our members. So far, over 1,100 attendees plan to arrive at the program on Monday, and I expect that number to grow.

This issue of School Leader features a preview of the 2017 conference; the article begins on page 24, and I urge you to review it as you make your plans to attend Workshop. More information, including the program schedule, is available on the Workshop website.

I look forward to seeing you at Workshop 2017.