NJSEA builds national connections

NJSEA Delegation 
NJSEA members provided a sizable delegation at the NEA Connections Conference—part of the NEA Student Program—at this year’s gathering in Las Vegas.

Fifteen New Jersey college students preparing for a career in education served as delegates to the annual NEA Connections Conference held Nov. 8-10 in Las Vegas. Held every November, the event brings together students from across the nation.

“In trading ideas with representatives from other states, I discovered a lot of interesting ideas that I think would be great to bring back to New Jersey,” said delegate Julia Albretsen, a student from The College of New Jersey.

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen-García was the event’s keynote speaker. She traced her own path to the classroom, from a “lunch lady” to classroom aid to elementary school teacher.

Eskelsen-García worked her way through the University of Utah on scholarships, student loans, and as a “starving” folk singer, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology. She worked with homeless children and gifted children, as a mentor for student teachers, and as a peer assistance team leader in the suburbs of Salt Lake City where she taught at Orchard Elementary School.

After teaching only nine years, Lily was named Utah Teacher of the Year.

Professional learning opportunities

The three-day conference also included break-out sessions that offered professional learning on the Common Core State Standards and other issues in public education.

The documentary Go Public: A Day in the Life of An American School District was screened at the conference. The 90-minute documentary presents one full day in the Pasadena Unified School District. Pasadena is a racially and economically diverse community in Southern California with 28 public school campuses. Details about the film can be found at http://gopublicproject.org.

Sarah Pawlak, a delegate from Seton Hall University, left inspired to increase student involvement from her school.

“I will not stop until I have built membership at Seton Hall University to a larger presence at future state conferences and events, as well as in our own community in Newark,” she said.