Leadership Academy grads connect

Published on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

 Paul Tkacs & Sen. Jim Whelan
Hopewell Valley Education Association member Paul Tkacs speaks with Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic. Whelan is a teacher in Atlantic City and member of the Atlantic City Education Association.

On May 5, NJEA hosted its first ever Political Leadership Academy networking event and reception for NJEA members who are elected officials.

More than 40 members from across the state, ranging in positions from board of education members to a state senator attended the event to meet other elected officials, discuss ways NJEA can be a resource to elected officials and candidates for political office, and learn more about NJEA’s Political Leadership Academy.

“We want you to think of our Political Leadership Academy as professional development for your political career,” said NJEA Government Relations Director Ginger Gold Schnitzer. “You have a vocation and an avocation to public service. Not only do you and your fellow members serve as elected officials but you also provide a valuable public good to our state and our nation by fostering the education of future generations.”

NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer, Vice President Marie Blistan, and Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller joined Government Relations staff in meeting and mingling with attendees. Each of the officers also addressed the group, and Spiller spoke about his experience attending the Political Leadership Academy. Spiller was elected to the Montclair Township Council. He represents the third ward.

State Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, whom Schnitzer called the “dean of the delegation” since he is the NJEA member who holds the highest elected office, also addressed the group. He encouraged the audience to continue to run for office and to challenge themselves. As a swim instructor in Atlantic City’s public schools, Whelan says that the goal for his students is to swim across the shallow end of the pool and as a reward for this accomplishment, they get to swim in the deep end.

“It’s the same with politics,” Whelan said. “Don’t give up.”

For more information about NJEA’s Political Leadership Academy, email Mike Giglio at mgiglio@njea.org.

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