Montclair State University Convening on Inter-Institutional Partnerships for Public Education

On April 11, 2023, Montclair State University’s College of Education and Human Services hosted a convening to explore the work of inter-institutional partnerships in helping to support students, communities, and educators. The event, titled “Partnering to Address New Jersey’s Educator Shortages,” brought together representatives from the state and federal government, colleges and universities, school districts, professional associations, and other organizations to discuss ways to increase the number of highly qualified professionals, especially teachers and other school professionals of color, who enter the profession and then remain in New Jersey’s public schools. They were delighted to welcome representatives from more than 20 colleges and universities (NJACTE had a lot of representation!), 40 school districts, many of the different alphabet soup of organizations that already do so much to bring educators, communities, and schools together (NJEA, NJASA, NJSBA, NJPCSA, AFT, and others), nonprofit organizations, and more.

The event kicked off with a welcome from Jonathan Koppell, President of Montclair State University, and Katrina Bulkley, Acting Dean of the College of Education and Human Services. Dr. Koppell spoke about the importance of inter-institutional partnerships in preparing students for the 21st century workforce, and Dr. Bulkley spoke about the College’s commitment to working with schools and communities to improve the quality of education.

In the first panel of the day, “The State’s Role in Supporting & Building Partnerships to Address Educator Shortages,” was moderated by Jennifer Robinson, Director of the Center of Pedagogy at Montclair State University. The panelists discussed the state’s role in supporting inter-institutional partnerships to address the teacher shortage, including providing funding for teacher preparation programs, offering scholarships to prospective teachers, and creating new pathways to teacher licensure.

The panelists included:

  • Nellie Pou, New Jersey State Senator
  • Sean Spiller, President of the New Jersey Education Association and Mayor of Montclair
  • Ryan Saunders, Senior Policy Analyst, the Learning Policy Institute
  • Julie Bunt, Chief of Staff, New Jersey Department of Education

The second panel of the day, “Enhancing Recruitment and Retention through Partnership,” was moderated by Mayida Zaal, Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning at Montclair State University. The panelists discussed strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers, including offering competitive salaries and benefits, providing professional development opportunities, and creating a supportive work environment.

Presenters were Jeanne DelColle (Director of the Center for Future Educators, The College of New Jersey), Rhena Jasey-Goodman (Center of Pedagogy, Montclair State University), and Steve Beatty (Vice President of the New Jersey Education Association). NJ Assemblyman Brandon Umba responded to the presentations.

The third panel of the day, “Innovative Approaches to Teacher Preparation,” was moderated by Timothy Purnell, Executive Director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. The panelists discussed innovative approaches to teacher preparation, including apprenticeships, residency programs, and partnerships between colleges and universities and school districts.

The panelists included:

  • Michael Blatt, State Director of the United States Department of Labor, ETA Office of Apprenticeship
  • Bree Picower, Professor of Teaching and Learning and Co-Director of the Transformative Education Network, Montclair State University
  • Khary Golden, Director of Camden U
  • Doug Larkin, Professor of Teaching and Learning and Director of the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, Montclair State University

The panel had two respondents reflect on the issues raised: NJ State Senator Troy Singleton and Superintendent Roger León of the Newark Board of Education.

Attendees heard a keynote address by Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, who spoke about the importance of investing in public education and the need to address the teacher shortage. Assemblywoman Jasey, who plans to retire after this legislative session, also reflected on her own journey to and in the state legislature and her experiences and accomplishments there.

Afternoon “Working and Learning” sessions included additional presentations on: Apprenticeship Program Possibilities and Paraprofessional to Teacher Pipelines; High School Teacher Academies and Dual Enrollment; Partnering for Retention; Tutoring as a Path to Teacher Recruitment; and Recruiting, Preparing, & Retaining Hard-to-Staff Areas: Bilingual and Bicultural, STEM Education. Additional presenters were: Nicole Field (US Department of Labor); Delia Maloy Furer and Anthony Grieco (Montclair Public Schools); Catherine Michener (Rowan University); Margaret Freedson (Montclair State University); Heather Kugelmass (Center for Research and Evaluation in Education and Human Services/CREEHS, Montclair State University); David Fuentes (William Paterson University); Tahina Perez and Andy Saunders (Teach for America New Jersey); Richard Tomko (Superintendent, Belleville Schools),  Joe Bavazzano (ADP Center at Montclair State University); and Ashley Bencan (NJ Tutoring Corps).

One of the final sessions brought together multiple award-winning teachers to reflect on their own experiences and offer guidance on how to attract, prepare, and retain high quality teachers.

  • Christine Girtain, 2023 NJ State Teacher of the Year, Toms River
  • Argine Safari, 2017 NJ State Teacher of the Year, Pascack Valley
  • Theresa Maughan, 2022 NJ State Teacher of the Year, East Orange
  • Sarah Sherman, 2023 NJ State Teacher of the Year, Burlington County

The convening was a valuable opportunity for stakeholders from across the public education community to come together and share ideas on how to improve the availability of high quality educators, especially educators of color, for all students in New Jersey’s public schools. The event highlighted the importance of inter-institutional partnerships in addressing the challenges facing public education in New Jersey.

We greatly appreciate all who joined us! If you are interested in partnering, let us know through the NJACTE “contact us” form.

Submitted by:
Katy Bulkley, NJACTE Member;
and Acting Dean, College of Education and Human Services
Montclair State University