Many school districts have education foundations that provide great support for local education initiatives. I am happy to report that the New Jersey School Boards Association has the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey (ELFNJ) to support board member training and professional development.

ELFNJ, a 501(c)3 organization, was founded in 2009 to advance the governance of New Jersey’s public schools through training and research. To accomplish its mission, ELFNJ has secured resources that support NJSBA efforts that benefit school boards and their members. Let me share some of them with you:

  • The New Board Member Orientation Weekend Program. This program merits special mention. Held each year in January and March, the weekend orientation program features an intensive mix of large and small group sessions that begin at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, and continue through mid-day Sunday. I believe the NJSBA weekend orientation is the nation’s most advanced and comprehensive training program for new board members
  • The Special Education Task Force Study
  • The Safe and Secure Schools Forum
  • STEM and leadership training
  • County school boards association meetings. Each county meets five times a year, and holds programs on topics ranging from student achievement and school law to labor relations, policy, school finance and sustainability.

Clearly these efforts reflect the foundation’s success.

I am honored to serve as the chief executive officer of ELFNJ. In that capacity, it is my pleasure to work with the ELFNJ Board of Trustees. The board is composed of 11 individuals, each with a unique perspective, but all of whom believe strongly in the critical importance of a well-trained board of education. They understand the correlation between effective school board governance and student achievement.

Those dedicated trustees deserve a public thank-you. They are: Stephanie A. Fisher, chairperson; Maria Alamo, secretary; Hope R. Blackburn, Esq.; John Bulina; Rochelle Hendricks; Kevin Lau, Esq.; Mike McClure; Ellen E. Mushinski, treasurer; Lloyd Rosenberg; Brett Waters; and Raymond R. Wiss, Esq.

The organization’s director is Patrice Maillet, who, as many of you know, wears another hat at NJSBA as director of business development. At ELFNJ, Patty has been very successful in securing donations from New Jersey corporations that are interested in helping advance public education. Within the past year, ELFNJ has obtained a total of $350,000 in contributions from Investors Bank, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, the Educational Testing Service, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

We know that the training and education of local school board makes a difference; research shows that a well-trained and high-functioning board is associated with academic excellence in school districts. NJSBA is lucky indeed to have a partner like ELFNJ to support these efforts and provide a firm financial foundation for its training programs.

Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod is NJSBA executive director.