By Hallie Meister
If you were not at NJEA’s 2022 Atlantic City Convention you missed out! The convention was back in full swing after COVID kept everyone home in 2020 and many home in 2021. It was wonderful to see so many people out and about after spending so much time at home. Both in-person and virtual experiences took place this year, so you could join colleagues in Atlantic City or from the comfort of your own home.
Hundreds of professional and career development workshops were held and Hall A featured phenomenal keynote speakers like LeVar Burton, Nyle DiMarco, David Hogg and Nikole Hannah-Jones. The convention also welcomed 2021’s Time magazine Kid of the Year, 12-year-old Orion Jean (10 years old!) and The Gender Cool Project’s Rebekah Bruesehoff, who is 14 years old.
Both Orion and Rebekah have authored their own books, which they signed at the convention. Orion’s book, A Kid’s Book About Leadership, focuses on leading with kindness and generosity. Rebekah’s book, A Kid’s Book About Being Inclusive, was co-written with Ashton Mota. Both Rebekah and Orion were at the convention signing their books as well.
The convention floor was filled with booths and activities, including staff NJEA as well as many vendors and nonprofit organizations. Members found a wide range of opportunities, ranging from digital education resources to ax throwing and goat yoga.
There were lots of giveaways to be collected, including culturally diverse books from BookSmiles and dry-erase markers and erasers from the Early Career Network. BookSmiles is a nonprofit organization based in Pennsauken. Its goal is to encourage reading by helping children build their own libraries. BookSmiles and its founder, NJEA member and Lindenwold teacher Larry Abrams, accept donations of books that BookSmiles puts into the hands of children who need them. Learn more at booksmiles.org.
Best of all, NJEA organized a “passport” activity that led to a ticket for a private event. The passport had to be filled out at multiple NJEA booths on the floor of the Exhibit Hall. Members who completed the passport received a ticket to the event at the Borgata Pool Club on Thursday evening. The event boasted a band made up of all teachers—and they were great!
If you haven’t been to the convention yet or you haven’t been in a while, don’t miss it in 2023! Mark your calendars for Nov. 9-10, 2023.
Hallie Meister is a member of the East Brunswick Education Association and is a Team Central leader for the NJEA Early Career Network.