Companies merge, institutions close, organizations change their focus. So, it stands as an important milestone when an association reaches its 100th anniversary, and does so with the same vital purpose – advancing public education – that was at the core of its mission when it was founded.

In 1914, twelve months of organizational activities by local boards of education culminated in Governor James F. Fielder’s signing of legislation that enabled local school boards to join together as the New Jersey State Federation of District Boards of Education. The organization’s purpose was a significant one: “to encourage and aid all movements for the improvement of the educational affairs in this State.” And although our name changed in 1970, the philosophy and beliefs of the New Jersey School Boards Association and its members have remained trained on the academic achievement of all students for a century.

In 2014, we are recognizing NJSBA’s Centennial with a series of events, many taking place at our annual conference, Workshop 2014, in October. For example, participants will see a 100-Year Timeline, featuring significant events in public education and NJSBA history. Throughout Workshop, several student performances will highlight NJSBA’s century-long commitment to our children’s education. We will have a display of historical documents and artifacts, ranging from the early history of NJSBA (actually, the 1968 doctoral dissertation of one of the state’s most distinguished school superintendents, Dr. Erling W. Clausen, who later became the president of the American Association of School Administrators) to the 1914 minutes of a local school board meeting (courtesy of the Haledon Board of Education).

In early October, NJSBA will publish a special edition of School Leader, which will focus on the history of the Association and public education over the past century. You may be surprised to see that, during the early decades of the 20th century, local boards of education were concerned about adequate funding for their schools, student health and safety, recruiting well-trained teachers, and the design of their school buildings.

This issue of School Leader provides an overview of Workshop 2014, “A Preview of NJSBA’s special Centennial Year Annual Conference,” starting on page 30. I wonder what Charles Taylor of Newark, Walter Black of Bordentown, Charles Fielding of South Orange, and Ezra Parker of Barnegat – our first president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, respectively – would think if they witnessed Workshop 2014. Perhaps they would be amazed to see the conference site, the Atlantic City Convention Center, or the technological advances used as part of the 250 training sessions, or wonder what it means that Workshop is “carbon neutral.”

What would not surprise them, however, is Workshop’s emphasis on best practices in the areas of school board governance, school finance and budgeting, curriculum, and other areas – all of which can have a profound impact on student achievement. That was part of the New Jersey Federation of District Boards of Education in 1914 and remains a centerpiece of the Association’s services today.

I look forward to seeing you at Workshop 2014 and celebrating our Association’s 100th anniversary.