What do princesses, turtles, and doughnuts have in common? A good question one might ask. The answer is not so easy, unless you are a Northeast Beast, and then the answer is readily on your tongue. Yummm, doughnuts.


Almost 600 NJEA members and their families, for a grand total of 2,000 happy zoo goers, from the Northeast Zone, comprised of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, attended a private NJEA Northeast Beast Fall Festival event at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, on Sept. 22, 2019.

Advocacy, awareness, and action were an important part of Sunday’s event as members interacted with various headquarters division groups like Government Relations, each county had a table, and NJEA programming groups like Pride & FAST or the Early Career Network. To encourage interaction with every group, members were given a passport to have signed by each table. A completed passport could then be turned in for a drawing for a one night’s accommodation in Atlantic City for the Thursday night of NJEA Convention. There were 10 such spots for eligible members.

At the Assessment table, members learned that the state is interested in increasing the number of high school tests for graduation requirements. At the table, members were encouraged to send postcards to the State Board of Education asking them to back off and reconsider the consequences of such actions. At the NJEA PAC table, if signing up for the first time or increasing one’s monthly contribution, members were given the highly coveted red shirts known throughout the four counties as the “Northeast Beast” swag. Postcards for our new Chapter 78 bill and our ESP job justice bills were another featured activity as members wrote and signed postcards that would be sent to our legislators asking them to support our new relief bills sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlan.

What about the princesses, turtles, and doughnuts? Members were invited to come to the zoo earlier in the afternoon before the zoo closed to spend time with the animals like the turtles and llamas. Then, for our afterhours event, members and their families could take pictures with princesses and superheroes and grab dinner from a half dozen food trucks hired special for the night. One of the food delights was a super milkshake that was topped with a doughnut and sprinkles.

“The Fall Festival event was a creative way for our members in these four northeast counties to come together around some important statewide issues like our new Chp.78 bill, our ESP job justice campaign, and the upcoming assessment regulation proposals,” said Steven Beatty, NJEA Secretary-Treasurer, who attended with his family. Beatty continued, “This is such a great opportunity to have so much access to many of our members and share with them our concerns for these issues and the impact they will have on our students, schools, and communities, and importantly, how they can get involved. I have to admit, I may be from Somerset county now, and I may represent our whole state, but I grew up in Essex and the Turtle Back Zoo is a special place for me, so it’s pretty cool to be a Northeast Beast in my heart, if even for one night.”

Related Articles

Send this to a friend