Dynamic NJ School Leader Shares Insights from Education’s Frontline Before and During the Pandemic

As one who already set the stage for all students and their teachers to flourish by rethinking education for vo-tech and exceptionally-abled students in the Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Burlington County Special Services School District (BCSSSD), Dr. Christopher Nagy put the innovative educational platform he created to the test during the global pandemic. His entrepreneurial approach reconfigured hands-on training with virtual reality for BCIT students and opened social services and therapies via hybrid learning strategies in special services. In the NJASA Frontline Leadership for Extraordinary Times podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza’s conversation with Dr. Nagy is filled with robust examples of how putting the needs of students (and parents/families) and their essential teachers first fuels his mission of reimagining how education can meet the ever-changing needs for students to live independently and thrive in the workforce. Join us at njasa.net to continue the discussion.

Career path partnerships, with Rowan College, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce and others, have been pivotal in student success. BCIT is one of 21 County Career and Technical Education Institutions that serve grades 9-12 students and post-secondary adult education students who are underemployed, unemployed, career changers, “upskillers,” entering workforce after a hiatus or transitioning to civilian life from military service. BCSSSD celebrates student exceptionalities from pre-k through age 21 including a transition program for ages 18-21 that prepare students for the world of work or to be more independent.

Rochelle Park’s Chief Education Officer Highlights Women in Education Leadership

Getting to know a new public-school district and simultaneously organizing the team that will re-open schools and get k-12 students back to school safely during the national COVID-19 pandemic during is no easy feat. Dr. Sue DeNobile did it quickly and successfully combining her experience and peer support. In NJASA’s latest podcast, Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director, speaks with Dr. DeNobile, superintendent and chief education officer of the Rochelle Park School District in New Jersey, about the challenges of leading a district during a pandemic, and the unique hurdles faced by women leaders in education. Establishing and cultivating relationships is the silver lining during challenging times, noted Dr. DeNobile who credited the Bergen County Association of School Administrators, the Bergen County Office of Education and New Jersey Association of School Administrators for sharing information and resources. She also addressed the underrepresentation of women leaders in education and efforts to create change through mentoring. She provides an example of her role in the Bergen County Women’s Education Leadership Group, a group that she co-founded. Join us at njasa.net to continue the discussion.


Staff Training Key to Getting Students Back to School in Newark

Lessons learned during a summer pilot program will inform decisions for Newark students as the district prepares to reopen both virtually and in-person in September. In NJASA’s 14th video podcast, Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director talks with Chief Education Officer Roger León, the first Hispanic Superintendent of the Newark Public School System and the first to report directly to the Newark Board of Education rather than to the state. Newark’s summer school, which taught 100 students in person and 4,000 virtually, will guide procedures for instruction and support for the 2020-21 school year. Staff training will be key to success, notes León. In addition, the district is reallocating its budget due to cuts, and supporting its families through meal distribution. Along with the mayor, Newark will have distributed over 2 million meals by the end of summer. León praised Newark’s mayor and the district’s nurses, custodians, food service and other essential workers who, over the last few months, have provided the solid foundation for the work ahead. Join us at njasa.net to continue the discussion.

Senate Leaders Look at What’s Needed to Get Back to School

As districts await guidance from the NJDOE and NJ Department of Health, New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz speak with Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Administrators (NJASA) about getting back to school. Ruiz who is Senate President Pro Tempore and directing the New Jersey Education Recovery Task Force, and Sweeney, weighed in on four key topics: (1) the immediate need for guidance (2) recommendations for districts to establish flat line budgets (3) how schools could safely and realistically reopen and (4) how schools are the community center for academics and mental health. Other topics discussed include future school construction, replacing textbooks with digital devices, connectivity for 90,000 plus students in a digital divide, and planning for the worst but hoping for the best. Join us at njasa.net to continue the discussion.

Challenges of New Jersey’s Rural School Districts

Pandemic challenges loom larger in a rural district like North Warren Regional School District, which stretches 110 square miles along the Appalachian Trail. In NJASA’s twelfth video podcast, Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Superintendent and Chief Education Officer Sarah Bilotti who shares the creative solutions the district has employed to offset financial challenges of Senate Bill 2, including replacing lights with LEDs for an equivalent savings to a teaching position. Ms. Bilotti proudly speaks of her district’s nationally award-winning marching band, color guard and successful music program, and the virtual ways they are honoring their graduates and student achievement award winners. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.

Pandemic Amplifies Challenges in North Brunswick Twp.

COVID-19 didn’t change what North Brunswick Twp. Schools were doing, but it called for new leadership skillsets to inspire creative solutions to address the district’s pandemic challenges. Chief Education Officer Dr. Brian Zychowski connected with T-Mobile and was awarded a grant for 4,000+ mobile hotspots ensuring internet access to its diversified student population. This effort closed the digital divide and provides a fair and equitable education to all its students.

The district cooks and distributes 8,000 daily breakfasts and lunches, 6 days a week. Their nurses are working on a team with Rutgers University Behavioral Health to reach out to students and staff experiencing anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic, as well as other emotional and mental health concerns.

Dr. Zychowski also partners with the mayor on daily broadcasts, not only sharing information but honoring students and staff.

In this podcast, Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Dr. Zychowski about re-allocating their 2020-2021 budgets to satisfy the PPE and disinfecting expenses, funding North Brunswick Twp.’s charter schools, and the impossible task of reopening schools under the current social distancing requirements. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.

Senator Teresa Ruiz Discusses Challenges of Reopening NJ’s Public Schools with NJASA

Masks in the classroom, staggered schedules and distance learning are among the options being considered by the Senate Education Recovery Task Force, a panel of educators and public officials who will help provide guidance and insight on topics surrounding the reopening of New Jersey’s public schools. Led by Senator Teresa Ruiz, the task force will hear from experts on the digital divide, mitigating learning loss, offering resources to improve at-home special education, social-emotional learning, mental health and more. Equity remains an important focus to ensure all students have access to a quality education. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza, also a task force member, talks with Senator Ruiz about meeting the challenges as districts prepare for the fall. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.

Team of Technical Wizards Helps NJ Public School District Thrive

Long Branch Public Schools were “Future Ready” long before the pandemic, thanks to a massive technology reorganization spearheaded by Chief Education Officer Dr. Michael Salvatore. With the Future Ready Schools initiative, the district successfully interrupted the digital divide, providing equal access to high quality content which set the stage for distance learning during COVID-19. Salvatore credits his team of technical wizards who pivot constantly to ensure access continues. In addition to academics, the district is meeting social-emotional needs with mental health outreach, and creative ways for students to celebrate milestones from prom to graduation. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Dr. Salvatore, NJASA’s 2019 Superintendent of the Year, about key actions that helped his district during these challenging times. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.

As School Buildings Remain Closed, Learning Continues in New Jersey

After Governor Phil Murphy closed school buildings for the year, NJASA got a high-level look at how New Jersey’s districts are faring from AbdulSaleem Hasan, Assistant Commissioner of Field Services for the New Jersey Department of Education. Meeting school budgets, overcoming the digital divide and getting the resources for special education at home are just some of the challenges facing districts in the coming weeks. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Hasan about the challenges and successes, including examples other districts can follow. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.