A Look at the Future of Education in New Jersey
As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, Steve Adubato goes on-location to the 2017 NJEA Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to talk with some of the state’s leading educators about the issues facing teachers and students both in and out of the classroom.
Marie Blistan, President, NJEA
Amy Andersen, 2017-18 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year
Sean M. Spiller, Vice President, NJEA
Rich Kiker, Founder and CEO, Kiker Learning
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. I'm in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This is the 164th New Jersey Education Association Convention. We're in Convention Center. I'll tell you what, for the next half hour, here's what you're going to see. We're speaking to educators, leaders of the NJEA, educational innovators, people who are talking about science, technology, the arts, music, language, all different folks who are here at this convention. It happens over two days every year, and people say, "What goes on in Atlantic City at the NJEA Convention?" For the next half hour, you're about to find out. A big part of it is about collaboration, about teachers coming together, sharing ideas, how to be the best classroom teachers they can be, and it's a half an hour you simply can't afford to miss. 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..."