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Jay Eitner |  @Jay_Eitner

Jay Eitner | @Jay_Eitner

Jay Eitner is a proud product of the New Jersey public schools. A graduate from Union High School in 1997, Jay attended The American University in Washington DC with a BA in interdisciplinary studies. He began his teaching career in Roselle, NJ teaching a variety of subjects including social studies, computers, and digital literacy. Known for being ‘outside of the box’ and for strong technology infusion, Eitner strived to make a learning environment that was student centered, data driven, and technology infused. Jay received his Masters Degree from Kean University in 2004 and was hired to teach 8th grade social studies in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. During his time in East Brunswick, Eitner has written & received over $140,000 in grants for his students. Grants ranged from podcasting equipment to creating a fully-interactive gold-rush experience, where students dug for gold during their westward expansion unit. Jay obtained his supervisor, principal, and school administrator certificates from the NJPSA NJ-EXCEL program in 2009. Administratively, Eitner has served as a middle school Assistant Principal in the Washington Township Schools , a K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, and a Superintendent of the Lower Alloways Creek School District. Jay currently serves as a Superintendent of Schools for the Waterford Township School District. He has presented a series of workshops on digital leadership, technology infusion, and student achievement. Recent awards include the 2015 national Educators Voice Award in the category of Superintendent, the White House MakerSpace distinction, and named to the national Academy of Arts & Sciences as a 2016 Educator To Watch.

Jay currently resides in Mount Laurel, New Jersey and is a proud Dad of twin girls and his puppy Lola.

Posted by on in Student Engagement

drunk driving

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a final meeting before the annual Project Graduation project that I have helped run for a number of years. If you aren’t familiar with the program, Project Gradutation is a program offered by many high schools in the United States, in which organized, adult-supervised and alcohol-free activities are offered as part of a post-graduation party, as an alternative to student-run events involving alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Most run the program the night of graduation; some choose that weekend. The theme for this year was a simple one: drunk drivers are stupid. 

The program is a great and often is a final way to celebrate the entire graduating class together. There are often lots of carnival-like games, tons of food (often ending with a breakfast buffet around 6 AM) and of course a DJ. The event is typically sponsored by the parent-teacher arm of the school and local businesses. 

I can imagine what you’re thinking at this point; many of the kids are just going to go and drink another night. That very well could be the case, and truthfully, we as a school are not going to stop students from experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or other dangerous decisions that they will come across. We can, however, offer all of the resources that we have as a community to deter students from making terrible decisions that can result in the destruction of life.

In the past, I have found visual deterrents to be very impactful. I previously blogged about what Hopewell Central High School did; a full blown mock fatal car accident, with the student council president dying in the wreck. Everything from the blood and crime scene markers to the funeral home showing up. It was full of lights, sirens, and sadness. It was painful to watch. That’s the point. 

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Posted by on in Leadership

800px Split arrows.svg

One of the nastiest words in education is “transfer.” The impact of the word in education circles can be felt all the way to the core of any school. Since transfers are often punitive, sometimes rewarding, and barely non-judgmental, people become freaked-out when transfers start happening in order to prepare for the next school year.

Transfers often start being thrown around at Christmas time, when administrators begin putting together their wish lists for the next year. The best way I can put it is that it’s like playing Monopoly. “I’ll give you Mr. X if you take Ms. Y & Mrs. Z.” I know; it sounds awful, but it’s often this way in districts. I previously blogged about what or how to do it in one-building districts so that you’re getting what your kids need in order to be successful. 

The biggest fear associated with transfers is dealing with the person who is not volunteering to do it. That person is often afraid of embarrassment, exposure, or being cast as ineffective. After seeing how your buildings and disctrict operates along with identifing your school / district strengths and pitfalls, sometimes you need a powerhouse in an academic or grade level area that needs help. It’s also totally worth taking those who are in need of some help that identify themselves as wanting assistance to become more effective in their craft. Then you have those who are completely useless. They are proud of it, defiant, paranoid, and angry, fully aware that they can’t be touched because of tenure. Let’s be honest here; this is a rarity. In my entire career, I have come across only two people in that spot (one in an educational position, one not) who were only sticking around to “defy the man” and to prove a point.

Transfers also rile up board members in some districts, regardless of your district size. Some even have policies set in place allowing for direct oversight (more about that in my book coming out this summer). Those being transferred who are not asking are the first to go to a board member and stoke the fire. While most board members understand that the superintendent makes recommendations and the board votes yes or no, other board members break ethics codes and “tag team” to create a beautiful, political, theatrical stage set consisting of tears, yelling, and dramatic votes. I’ve had it both ways as a superintendent, but I’ll share with you one instance where long-range planning truly paid off. 

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

mental health 141

I hope everyone knows the above quote.  If not, you need to stop reading this and Netflix this movie!

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and everyone you’ve worked with has done it.  At some point, you’ve taken a day off, but you didn’t use a vacation day, you weren’t sick, and you did things just for yourself with it. Shopped. Went out to eat. Got a massage or had a spa day. Watched a movie. Saw a baseball game. Binge-watched a series. Slept in. You get the idea. The phrase “mental-health day” has circulated in the workplace for years, yet many shy away from saying that’s what they’re taking.

NBC Nightly News recently aired a story about an employee who emailed her boss saying she was taking a mental-health day. Her boss replied supporting her.

While the summer is a great time to recharge and relax, we need to be doing this during the school year as well. We need to eat right, exercise, and partake in wellness. We all need mental-health days. Don’t shy away from it; be proud of it.

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Posted by on in What If?

My first “official” day on the job was July 5, and before I could get started, I needed a work space.  I had taken a few tours of the facilities before, and I saw that my new office was on the third floor–the top corner office with a great view.  It was more like a penthouse.

And then I checked out the whole building and told the movers to put all of my belongings in the basement. You read correctly.  The basement!  My staff began to panic and wanted to know if I was okay.

I picked an office that is the size of a utility closet at best. No windows. No bathroom. No opulence resembling the typical superintendent ‘s office. Just enough room to hang a few pictures and my academic credentials.

Why would I do something like this? A few reasons…

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

turningbacktime

I still can't believe that I graduated Union High School 20 years ago this year. 1997 was a fun year–a senior in high school, not a care in the world. Then again, it was a different world.

My superintendent, Dr. Jakubowski (with whom I still speak), made two prominent points at our graduation.

1. Don't get into a stranger's car.

2. Don't use the internet.

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