Workshop 2015 will be here before you know it. We’re proud to announce that this year’s theme is “Empowering the 21st Century Student.” Nothing is more critical to the future of our nation than advancing the achievement of all students, and New Jersey’s public schools are up to the challenge. It all begins 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. 27 through Oct. 29. 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. There will be an abundance of information on best practices, free programming and resources, and successful public/private collaborations. So whatever your interest – sustainability, technology, cost savings, shared services, alternative revenue opportunities, teacher evaluations, student achievement – you’re sure to find it at Workshop 2015 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.

Keynote Session Speakers

The Workshop keynotes will guide and inspire you! Stop by the Investors Bank Theater at 10 a.m. to hear keynote speakers Travis Allen and Jack Berckemeyer, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Travis Allen is a young visionary promoting digital learning in the classroom. Before graduating from high school, Travis created a viral YouTube video on revolutionizing America’s education through the use of mobile technology. Today, he is a senior at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University where he operates his growing non-profit organization, iSchool Initiative. With the support of his team, Travis has presented in over 40 states and seven countries, allowing him to reach an audience of more than 200,000 people. He has been featured on CNN, Huffington Post and Forbes. In 2011, he was the winner of Google Young Minds competition; and in 2012, he was invited to the White House for Education Datapalooza. Travis Allen is quickly becoming one of the most influential leaders of the emerging digital learning movement.

A nationally-recognized presenter, author, and humorist, Jack Berckemeyer, began his career as a middle school teacher in Denver, Colorado. After two years of teaching he was named as an outstanding educator at his school, and shortly thereafter he was identified as one of the outstanding educators in the district. In 2003, he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Falcon School District. Jack Berckemeyer brings his energy, humor, and expertise to his presentation as he helps school board members and administrators remember why the job they do makes a difference. He has also served as a judge for the Disney American Teacher Awards and the selection committee for the USA Today All Teacher Team.

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 2015 has options for you.

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 collaborative conversations with parents can build a community of support for children.

iSTEAM and Green Command Center

This year’s Workshop will feature a completely renovated the iSTEAM and Green Command Center, courtesy of the area sponsor, Schneider Electric. This new and improved facility, located on the Exhibit Floor, will have demonstration stations that will focus on iSTEAM education and sustainability resources and services. This year, the Green Command Center will also debut the Green Passport. The Green Passport will give participants the opportunity to collect stamps around the Exhibit Floor; once the passport is full, Workshop attendees can drop it in the box located in the Green Command Center to enter to win an array of prizes.

Once again, Workshop 2015 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.

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.

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 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. 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 2016 mandated training at Workshop, in advance of the 2016 calendar year.

Special Programs

Is your district preparing for negotiations? Are you a member who sits on his or her board’s negotiations committee? Back by popular demand, the Labor Relations Mini-Workshop will take place on Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. No ticket is required, but we recommend you get there early, as the session usually fills up fast. The 44th Annual School Law Forum, another long-time favorite of Workshop participants, will take place at Workshop on Thursday, Oct. 29. 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. 28 at 1 p.m. Board members love speaking to the NJSBA attorneys. 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

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. The NJSBA Services area has expanded for Workshop 2015. Stop in to learn about the products, services and cost-savings opportunities for your district that comes with membership in NJSBA. The NJSBA Services area is also the destination for Workshop ribbons and giveaways.

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 2015’s web-based event scheduling program, for a listing of specific programs that satisfy certification requirements.

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

It’s a mobile museum… it’s a New Jersey Hall of Fame…it’s the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum. Encounter giants of New Jersey history and culture like Albert Einstein, Clara Barton, Meryl Streep, Count Basie, and dozens of amazing real-life heroes. Designed by the late world-renowned architect – and 2010 NJ Hall of Fame Inductee – Michael Graves, and museum consultants Ralph Appelbaum Associates, this revolutionary 1,000 square foot educational field trip on wheels helps illustrate the role that iconic New Jersey residents have played in shaping the global social, scientific, economic, cultural and political communities. The New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum will be located in the Exhibit Hall.

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 2015 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

“Is there free Wi-Fi? What happens when I walk outside of the Exhibit Hall? Do I have to sign in again to the network?” Workshop 2015 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 Facebook.

Arts at Workshop

Not long ago, NJSBA’s executive director, Dr. Larry Feinsod, noted in his blog the importance of arts education, “…as school leaders, we address many issues, including school budgets that must provide for an educational program with often limited resources. While we wrestle with these financial and curricular issues, it’s critical that we keep in mind how the arts enrich education and the quality of life.” 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 on SCHED.

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 into quality of life issues affecting students, including nutrition services and education, green environments, green cleaning and facility care, sustainability and community engagement. The 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 & Learn

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Due to the tremendous success of last year’s Lunch & Learn, this year’s program has been expanded to two days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the entire exhibit floor will transform into a Lunch & Learn training event and prove once again that food fuels learning. The first 2,000 attendees to snag a ticket will receive lunch on the house. Stop by the CDI County Cafe or the NJSBA Services booth located in the middle of the exhibit floor on Tuesday morning to secure a ticket. Then, beginning at 11:30 a.m., pick up your lunch at a designated concession stand (the participating concession stands will be marked with the Lunch & Learn logo) and enjoy it at one of the numerous training opportunities taking place on the exhibit floor.

Lunch & Learn training opportunities include roundtable discussions located at the end of aisle 100, as well as programs in the lounges and the ten Learning Labs on the exhibit floor. We also encourage you to take this time to visit the exhibit booths of your district’s vendors.

Empowering Students…and Board Members

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 2015 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. 27 to Oct. 29 at the Atlantic City Convention Center for Workshop 2015. For more on the conference, including housing and registration information, go to the Workshop website at