This year’s Workshop theme, “Looking Back…Leaping Forward,” celebrates NJSBA’s 100th anniversary and the progress board members have made, and continue to make, in New Jersey to create the best possible educational system for our children. The conference will be held Oct. 28-30 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Workshop is a three-day showcase of programs, training, exhibits, demonstrations, and networking opportunities for attendees to learn about the numerous resources available to them. Examples of best practices, available free programming and resources, and successful public/private collaborations in sustainability, technology, cost savings, shared services, alternative revenue opportunities, teacher evaluations, and student achievement will be highlighted throughout the convention hall.

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 district. The event will be held on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the Exhibit Floor open on Tuesday and Wednesday. Action Labs, Group Sessions and Special Sessions are offered on all three days.

The New Jersey Department of Education has again issued a waiver, per the travel regulations, allowing board members and administrators living more than 50 miles from the convention center to be reimbursed for up to two nights stay (Tuesday and Wednesday) to attend Workshop. Members and administrators may not be reimbursed for the night prior to or after Workshop.

Training at Workshop

Education Sessions

Offer Wide Variety of Choices Whether you like to learn in a large group setting listening to knowledgeable speakers, prefer being part of a small group participating in hands-on activities, or want to choose short informational sessions that focus on very specific topics, Workshop 2014 will offer you options that will meet your learning style and help you acquire the knowledge you need.

Action Labs

Ninety-minute interactive Action Lab sessions will be offered all three days of Workshop. 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 (NJDOE)

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:

  • Lessons from the PARCC Field Test – Preparing for the Operational Assessment
  • Implementation of the PARCC assessments
  • Educator evaluations (AchieveNJ)
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Board’s Role in Student Improvement
  • Science Standards Revisions Impact on Curriculum
  • Getting it Right: The Legal Aspects of Educator Evaluation
  • Educator Evaluation and AchieveNJ: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward, and more!

iSTEM and Green Command Center

Workshop 2014 will include exhibit floor areas dedicated to iSTEM education (integrative science, technology, engineering and math) and sustainability resources and services. Inside the iSTEM and Green Command Center, teachers will share their classroom techniques and school staff will highlight best practices to marry curriculum standards and facility projects using iSTEM and sustainability as the common denominator. Information on cost savings and statewide green resources can be found in this central location on the exhibit floor. Visit the iSTEM and Green Command Center and walk away with the tools to help you take action in your district.

For the third year, Workshop 2014 will be a carbon-neutral event. In an effort to mitigate 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. With the financial support of the Green Living and Building Center, a donation was made to, and Workshop 2014 will offset its total carbon emissions through carbon sequestering projects like those mentioned above. For more information on carbon-neutral pledges or to offset your school events go to

The co-director of the NJ-NASA Education Resource Center (ERC) will be participating in our iSTEM and Green Command Center as well as other NJSBA partners. These experts will provide information on sustainability in schools and how you can save your district’s money and optimize the learning environment for students.

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. No ticket is required. Among this year’s Group Sessions are programs within the following 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.

Keynote Session Speakers

There will be thought-provoking keynote session speakers on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s keynote will be announced later this summer. On Wednesday, Oct. 29, Workshop participants will have the opportunity to hear a keynote address from Dr. Michael McGough, “Leadership Under Fire: Lessons from the White House.” The program will examine how presidential decisions and actions have demonstrated both productive and unproductive leadership strategies. Workshop attendees will be encouraged to reflect on these lessons and consider how they could be applied to the leadership challenges and opportunities facing contemporary educational leaders today.

Learning Lab Sessions

Special sessions will be offered at various Learning Lab locations throughout the exhibit floor. These sessions are 30 minutes in length, content focused, and less formal than the Group Sessions or Special Sessions. We will also offer Learning Labs as a follow-up to the mock board session, to further discuss legal issues. This setting will offer a wide variety of topics and give participants the opportunity to learn and ask questions in a casual setting.

Mandated Training Opportunities

Workshop will offer an 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. The Governance II, III and IV mandated training programs will be offered on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 30. Board members are also welcome to take their 2015 mandated training at Workshop, in advance of the 2015 calendar year.

NJSBA Services Area

The NJSBA Services Area has been expanded for Workshop 2014. Stop in to learn about the products, services and cost-savings opportunities for your district that comes with membership in NJSBA.

Additionally, NJSBA staff will participate in the new “Lunch & Learn” program on the Exhibit Floor on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up your free lunch and drop by the Learning Labs to meet members of the NJSBA staff and to ask your questions about legal, policy, labor relations, school governance issues and more. This is also an opportunity to learn about ways your school or district can maximize the benefits of your NJSBA membership.

The NJSBA Services Area is also the destination for Workshop ribbons and giveaways. Be sure to stop by!

Qualified Purchasing Agent Credits

Courses will be offered for those interested in increasing their knowledge of public purchasing, as well as public officials desiring 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 for a listing of specific programs that satisfy certification requirements.

Specialty Programs

The ever-popular Labor Relations Mini-Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. This is a “don’t miss” session for board members whose districts are preparing for negotiations or those members who sit on their board’s negotiations committee. No ticket is required, but we recommend you get there early, as the session usually fills up fast. The 44th Annual School Law Forum will take place at Workshop. The program is a full-day review of timely legal issues, and is designed for school law attorneys, board members and administrators.

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.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum

This interactive exhibit was created around the theme Progress Endure. The mobile museum explores these crucial questions: What is the spark that ignites change on a grand scale? How is progress made? How does change become progress? The New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum is a ”field trip on wheels“ with almost 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. This exhibit features New Jersey Hall of Fame heroes, highlighting the skills students need to reach their own goals and develop a stronger sense of hometown pride.

21st Century Classroom

Designed to place a premium on interaction, collaboration and engagement, school classrooms today provide education opportunities that were never possible before. The 21st Century Classroom at NJSBA Workshop 2014 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.

Arts at Workshop

Research shows a strong connection between arts education and success in college and career. In celebration of our centennial anniversary, original artwork from N.J. students will be on a digital display in the exhibit hall. Students in grades K – 12 have been invited to submit original artwork featuring the theme: ”Education Through the Years 1914-2014.“

In addition, we are proud to showcase four accomplished student performance groups from New Jersey:

  • The Egg Harbor Township High School Drum Line
  • The Manala-Pans, a middle school steel pan ensemble from Manalapan-Englishtown School District
  • Burlington Township Jazz Singers (Ranked #2 in the U.S., 2014 Berklee School of Music, National Jazz Festival)
  • Princeton High School Jazz Band (Ranked #1 in the U.S., 2014 Berklee School of Music, National Jazz Festival)

Insights on Student Well-Being Pavilion

Current research shows that student success is dependent on the health, nutrition and the well-being of students and their learning environment. The Insights on Student Well-Being Pavilion will showcase several practices that provide insights and perspective into quality of life issues affecting students such as nutrition services and education, green environments, green cleaning and facility care, sustainability and community engagement. The focus and discussions at the Pavilion on the exhibit floor will offer solutions that work with current fiscal realities and enable districts to ensure a healthy future for all children.

Lunch and Learn

Workshop 2014 will be offering lunch to all registered attendees on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Lunch and Learn provides an opportunity for attendees to participate in roundtable discussions on hot topics in education, located in multiple areas on the exhibit floor.

While on the exhibit floor, make sure to visit the County Café. The County Café is a welcome oasis on the floor, where attendees can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the convention. Relax, grab a cup of coffee and a light snack and network with other board members and with NJSBA staff, state officers and county leaders.

There will be a Wireless Lounge and Recharge Station on the third and fourth floor of the convention center. When your batteries for mobile devices run down, we welcome you to visit these lounges to recharge.

We invite you to enjoy complimentary water stations located throughout the convention center. Attendees will receive a complimentary, refillable water bottle to stay hydrated during Workshop and beyond.

As New Jersey’s school leaders have come to expect, Workshop will continue the tradition of top-notch training on negotiations, school law, policy, curriculum, technology, STEM, sustainability and other areas vital to effective school district leadership. It’s the opportunity for all of us to become learners and, this year, to experience the school district and the classroom of the future. Plan to join us in Atlantic City in October to join us as we celebrate 100 years of public education in New Jersey.

For more information on Workshop, visit the website.

Laura Geltch, former marketing coordinator at NJSBA, is with Burlington County Special Services School District.