On the cover of the Review this month is an excellent educator and global citizen: 2019-20 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year Kimberly Dickstein Hughes. And on the back page of the magazine is an excellent educator and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Gregory Pardlo. And on all the pages in between, you will find examples of other excellent educators.

As Dickstein Hughes herself says, she is just one of many, many, many excellent educators across the state who deserve recognition, celebration and support.

Every month, in the pages of this magazine, on our website, and through our social media accounts, NJEA recognizes and celebrates the excellent things that are happening daily in New Jersey’s public schools. But it is not enough. Too many educators feel that their contributions are not valued, seen or respected. It’s not just the responsibility of administrators—I think we all feel that the praise and recognition that means the most to us comes from our colleagues: the people who know us best and are working as hard as we are to ensure that all children have what they need to succeed.

There is something we can do about it: we can recognize and celebrate each other. There’s something about paying a sincere compliment that ends up benefiting both parties. The recipient feels seen and valued; the compliment-giver gets to enjoy the recipient’s response. One by one, compliment by compliment, recognizing and celebrating each other can change a school community. Whether your superintendent is an ally or an obstacle, or whether your board is helpful or challenging, we are the ones with the power to support each other through difficult times and build even stronger bonds.

Unity is not just a collective bargaining value; it is vital to ensuring that our school communities are happy, healthy and nurturing environments for our students and school employees.

As the calendar year winds down, I want to wish you health and happiness and thank you for all that you do for our students and our communities. You make New Jersey public schools the best in the nation, and your work is valued and appreciated by all of your colleagues in education and advocacy.


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