By Brian Reilly, NJEA Relations chair for NJEA Preservice, Seton Hall University

The Thursday and Friday in November following Election Day are two days all educators, past, present and future, have circled on their calendars. During these two days, the NJEA Convention is usually held in Atlantic City. However, this year it is being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year was my first year going to the convention, and it blew me away. There are so many great opportunities to learn from experts in their respective fields for all content areas. Whether you are a preservice, full-time, or a retired member, the convention offers something for everyone.

With the pandemic throwing a wrench into the normal convention plans, all convention events will be done virtually. One of the biggest question marks was whether the keynote speaker would stay the same despite the convention being virtual, but luckily the 2020 keynote speaker, Ruby Bridges, will still be delivering her speech.

Ruby Bridges is known for her work as an American civil rights activist. On Nov. 14, 1960, at the age of six, Bridges became the first African American child to attend the all-white public William Frantz Elementary School. She and her mother were escorted by federal marshals to the school as a mob of parents protested her arrival, keeping their children out of the school. For that year, she was the only student in her class. Her speech is one you will not want to miss.

There are also plenty of workshops offered throughout the two days for everyone in attendance. And there are two workshops specially designed for NJEA Preservice members:

  • Friday, Nov. 6, 9-10 am.: Tips and Tricks to Landing a Job in NJ Schools
  • Friday, Nov. 6, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Podcasts in Practice: Using Technology in Preservice Residency Programs

In addition, NJEA Preservice will have a presence in the Virtual Exhibit Hall at the NJEA Convention where you can learn about all of the ways that membership in the association benefits you.

NJEA Preservice members are also included in Early Career Network events. It’s a great way to become acquainted with other preservice members as well as members just beginning their careers. Just like the rest of the convention, the Early Career Network Center will be presented virtually this year. However, do not be discouraged. The network’s events this year are sure to accomplish the same goal as in any year: connecting members throughout the state.

I highly encourage preservice members to attend Early Career Network events. In fact, it was the network that had an impact on my own preservice experience. At a network event I learned about the leadership positions available in NJEA Preservice. I applied for open positions and eventually became an ambassador for NJEA Preservice. This led me toward my current position as NJEA Relations chair for NJEA Preservice.

The 2020 NJEA Convention will be like none other. Even though the convention will be virtual this year, all members will still have the chance to learn, network, and engage socially with other members. Further updates and questions regarding the 2020 NJEA virtual convention can be found at njeaconvention.org and in the NJEA Convention Program that was mailed with this edition of the NJEA Review. 

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, 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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