By Olivia Haas, The College of New Jersey, secretary of NJEA Preservice

The year of 2020 has surprised us all. I would have never predicted that so many life changing events could have happened in a single year. In the midst of the happy moments, the sad moments, and the isolation 2020 has brought upon us, I am grateful that I decided to become a member of NJEA Preservice. Joining NJEA Preservice has opened up a new chapter in my life.

I joined in March of 2020 before the pandemic altered our lives. Since then, not only has my personal life changed, but my professional life has changed as well. When I became an NJEA Preservice member, I gained access to a variety of workshops with topics such as social justice, time management, and the challenges facing education. These workshops have provided me with a safe space where I can share my concerns with current educators and preservice members. Because of these workshops, I have learned from others’ experiences. These workshops have provided me with solutions to struggles students and colleagues might be facing. I have also learned a variety of pedological practices to implement in my future classroom.

The first NJEA Preservice event I attended was a workshop with early career educators who shared stories about their experiences. In addition, I received advice on how to get a job, including valuable interview tips, that I will use in the future. The preservice workshops have taught me much in the last few months, and I look forward to attending more.

On June 1, 2020, I became the secretary of NJEA Preservice. I was honored to fulfill this leadership position and excited to be a part of something bigger than myself. Through the secretary position, I have met many amazing people and have had many positive experiences.

I have played an active role on the leadership team, and I attended a virtual leadership retreat over the summer. I met New Jersey’s teacher of the year. I also met with preservice leaders across the nation monthly to discuss what they are doing for preservice members and see what we can do better.

Over the summer, I attended the 2020 NEA Aspiring Educators Virtual Conference, which included workshops, yoga sessions, and the opportunity to meet future educators from across the country.

Opportunities for all NJEA Preservice members

New this year, NJEA Preservice has game nights for its members, an idea that was developed by our leadership team. Together, my fellow officers and I planned the game nights for our members and had prizes sponsored by NEA Member Benefits, California Casualty, and Buyer’s Edge, Inc. At our game nights, I’ve learned about the amazing benefits being an NJEA member has to offer. I also met new members and made connections.

In November, I attended the NJEA Convention virtually. This was my first time attending the convention, so I was excited that I was able to witness a virtual convention. I attended many sessions, met new people, and learned about the professional development opportunities that are available to me as an NJEA Preservice member.

I have gained so much from being a member of NJEA Preservice this year. From being a member, I obtained a leadership position, attended a wide variety of workshops, and received many benefits. I have made connections with educators and preservice members across the nation, and I have learned what it means to be an educator. I am eager to see what 2021 has in store for NJEA Preservice members.

Does your school host student teachers and practicum students?

Students who are preparing to become teachers are the future of our profession and NJEA leadership. That’s why it’s vital that you encourage preservice educators in your school to join NJEA Preservice.

A part of NJEA, the preservice organization offers important professional development opportunities. NJEA Preservice members host their own student-geared conference and attend the NJEA Convention along with NJEA members.

NJEA Preservice members go on to become local association leaders after graduation and lead the profession on their respective campuses. To sign up for membership, visit njea.org/preservice.

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