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Posted by on in Student Engagement
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2015 was one of the best years I have had, personally and professionally.  Among other things, I was blessed with two healthy, happy girls, was allowed to switch school districts to be closer to home (and said girls), was fortunate enough to see tons of accomplishments for my students and staff, and was lucky enough to speak to folks around the country and the world about all of the great things our students and staff are doing in schools today. All of this has left me sitting here shaking my head (or as my X would put it... SMH) on how much awesomeness I got to be part of.

Sure, there was some sadness too. I lost my father this past year, and my grandmother weeks later. I also said goodbye to an awesome group of students and some amazing staff members in my old district. Thanks to social media and this thing called the Internet, we are thankfully just a click away.

I also had some difficult decisions to make for my career. Not only did I turn down a powerhouse district to stay closer to home, I had some difficult conversations with folks about futures, careers, and life. I lost some friendships along the way for telling it like it is and sticking to my core belief of students first. Sad, yes.Keeping me up at night? No way. I also saw true colors in both my professional and personal lives (on my level, it's blended together).  A learning experience for sure. Finally, you can't do so much and be awesome without collecting some haters along the way. Is it sad to admit that I like them too?  I've come to accept you either loving me or loathing me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My haters fuel me; you push me harder and make me better each and every day.

I'm warning you now; 2016 is going to be the year of testifying. When I googled "testify", two definitions came up:  the one that was related to court and the one that is related to spreading the news.  I'm all about spreading the news.

I love telling folks all of the good in schools.  I love sharing all of the energy that students have and their desire to learn.  I love to expose my teachers to new ideas, thoughts and people that are here and, yes, just a click away. 

As I said earlier, I had the privilege of testifying all over the country and world in 2015. Places included:

  • Atlanta
  • Beijing,
  • Boston
  • Bangor, ME
  • Changchun, China
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Honolulu
  • Philadelphia
  • Los Angeles
  • Louisville
  • New Jersey (18 out of 21 counties)
  • Orlando
  • Providence
  • San Fransisco
  • Sante Fe

I got to testify about awesomeness and the power of STEAM and what my district was doing at The White House! I still can't get over that. The White House!!!

I'm more excited by the day to all of the excellence and star power that will be coming to my district this upcoming year, including Tom Murray, Barry Saide, and even Dave Burgess!

2016 is right around the corner... And I'm just getting started. Don't believe me? Just watch. Watch what testifying can do! Watch me expose!! And please.... Tell me we can't! Tell me it can't be done! I think we had a ton of fun proving the naysayers wrong this past year.

Who's ready to move forward in 2016?! Who's ready to do what's best for students in 2016?! Who's ready to show all of those who say we can't that we can and we will. Ready.... Set... TESTIFY!!!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016. Looking forward to getting the party started... Again. I'll testify to that too!

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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 Master's 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.

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Guest Monday, 15 July 2019