The New President of NJEA Comments on the Governor Election
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the NJEA Convention to speak with Marie Blistan, President of the New Jersey Education Association, about her goals as the new head of NJEA. She also speaks on the recent governor election and how the new administration could impact school funding and the public employee pension.
"We're here at the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City, the 164th Convention, and we are honored to be joined by the President of the NJEA, Marie Blistan. Marie, you taught for a few years? Yeah. Well over 30 years. Yep. Where? I taught in Somerdale, in Camden County. I taught in Sterling High School, and then I went over to Washington Township in Gloucester County. Why did you get into teaching? To help students. When I was in high school, I found that I loved history, social studies, and I loved the Spanish language, neither of which I'm certified in today. Is that right? But... yep. But I loved it. And I started to think about going into teaching, because I liked my teachers. And then a student from Italy came over into our high school, and I did not speak Italian, but he spoke no English. And he was struggling. And one of my teachers asked me, out of the blue, if I would help him. And I did. And I found... I loved it. And when I got into college, and I went to Camden County College, I'm a proud graduate of the county colleges, I worked, and I got introduced in the Summertime to students who were physically, emotionally, and psychologically challenged. It was called Camp Happy Times, and it was right in Atco, New Jersey, and I fell in love with those kids. And I switched immediately to stop thinking about teaching history and Spanish and teaching children. Those children who I thought needed me most. Now fast-forward a little bit. Yep. As the president... Yes. ...of this organization, with over, I believe, 200,000 members? Yes. Yes. Describe that responsibility. It's huge. It's not just 200,000 members, it is 200,000 families, it's over a million children in our public schools, and it's their families. That's the responsibility I look at. Is it personal for you? Very personal. Yes. Why? How? It's a passion. I truly believe that there is no greater profession in this world, on this earth, except for being a parent, for... because of the impact that we have the, opportunity that we have, to help shape someone's life, to make it better, and to make the world better. You know often, our members, we don't really see the fruits of our labor. We see them during that year, or even during... if they're K to 8, or through the high school, but they go on into life and into society and they become and do all kinds of great things. You know, the NJEA is such a powerful force, I was talking to..."