NJEA mourns passing of former president Barbara Keshishian

NJEA is mourning the passing of former NJEA President Barbara Keshishian on Aug. 19.

Keshishian, who served as an NJEA officer from 2001 to 2013, held the position of NJEA president from 2009 to 2013. A high school mathematics teacher in New Milford, Keshishian previously served as the president of the New Milford Education Association and president of the Bergen County Education Association, among many other leadership roles.

NJEA President Sean M. Spiller, Vice President Steve Beatty and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson expressed their condolences to Keshishian’s family, friends and all those whose lives have been touched by hers:

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Barbara’s family and loved ones. Barbara served NJEA members for many years with dignity and integrity. She was deeply committed to protecting and advancing the rights of school employees. She believed in the importance of the work we do, because she knew that respect for school employees was a prerequisite for strong schools and successful students. Her advocacy made her a great leader, but her kindness and compassion made her an even better mentor, colleague and friend.”

Keshishian served as the first chair of NJEA’s Pride in Public Education Committee and helped spearhead the campaign to share the good news about New Jersey’s public schools. She took her commitment to public education very seriously and felt firsthand the power it has to change lives.

In a 2009 interview, Keshishian said, “I believe 100% in public education—it’s what makes this country strong. When public schools are attacked, I take it personally. It’s a shame there’s not enough time to sit with everyone and change minds one at a time. I know we’d be able to convince people of all the good things we do.”

Throughout her career in public education—as a teacher, union member, leader and advocate—Keshishian did her best to change minds and lives by emphasizing the value of great public schools.

Keshishian was a proud graduate of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. A scholarship is bestowed every year in her honor to a graduating senior at New Milford High School. To learn more about Keshishian’s life and legacy, read this September 2009 NJEA Review interview with her.