One of the first things I did after arriving at the National Catholic Educators Association Conference in Chicago, Ill., last month, was to pick up my conference badge, which was affixed to a lanyard. As I placed the lanyard around my neck, it occurred to me that this would be the last time that I would speak at a conference in my role as President of Middle States.
In one of my recent presentations, I referenced a phenomenon that I refer to as my “Camelot” moments; moments in my career when I had the good fortune to work with incredibly talented individuals on solving challenges we were passionate about with an innovative solution. The almost decade and a half at MSA has been an extended Camelot moment and one that will serve as the capstone to my almost 50 years in education.
Throughout my career, I have always been a teacher at the core. What and to whom I have taught has changed, but making a difference in the lives of my students is what has driven my career. Whether they were my first students in Englewood New Jersey, graduate students at Rutgers University, teachers and administrators in Gloucester Township, NJ or the Valley Stream School District in New York, board members at Rancocas Valley, or most recently the 2700 members of the Middle States Association, it has always been about altering the path towards a brighter future. While I have no immediate plans as to how I will spend my retirement, I know I will always remain a teacher, if only to my grandchildren.
I have had the opportunity to visit wonderful schools around the world and have met outstanding educators, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
I wish my successor, Dr. Lisa Marie McCauley, and my colleagues who will be continuing the work of the Middle States Association all the best. Their role in ensuring the quality of education across the country and in promoting American education around the world has never been more important. And as members of MSA, your example of how every school can and must provide world class education for every student has never been so needed.
As I add my last lanyard to the hundreds I have collected, let me remind you that while we all believe in the future, and most of us believe that the future will be brighter than the past, it is having the audacity to believe that we can make a difference in that future that makes us teachers.