New Jersey Teacher of the Year Amy Andersen, American Sign Language teacher at Ocean City High School, will be one of four featured speakers at this year’s 163rd New Jersey Education Association Convention in Atlantic City.

Andersen, 45, of Cape May Court House, has been teaching sign language in Ocean City since 2004, when the district started its program. This is her first major address as Teacher of the Year since being honored in October.

The annual NJEA Convention for members of the state’s largest teachers union is expected to draw thousands of educators to the Atlantic City Convention Center Thursday and Friday, as it has for many years.

“We have a long history of holding the convention in Atlantic City. It has the best facilities in New Jersey for an event of this size, and the city has always worked hard to welcome NJEA and its members,” said NJEA spokesman Steven Baker.

This year’s theme is “Standing Together: Social Justice = Education Justice = Student Success.” Organizers said they hope the subject will both inform and inspire, with workshops and exhibits designed to reflect the theme.

“Social justice is important to our members. We work with students from every imaginable background. We are a part of every New Jersey community. The factors that affect New Jersey’s families and communities also affect our public schools. When we work for a more just society, we are also working for stronger public schools. It’s also simply part of our advocacy for both students and working people,” Baker said.

On Thursday morning, author and activist Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, will be the featured speaker. Shabazz is known for advocating for women’s and girls’ empowerment. Following her speech, she will moderate a student panel on youth and social justice.

Friday’s featured speaker is Mike Kuczala, director of instruction for the Regional Training Center, an educational consulting firm based in Randolph.

Each day there are dozens of workshops and tutorials for teachers to learn about current political and social issues, new education techniques and strategies, and other professional development. There are also several teacher-to-teacher sessions.

As usual, the convention floor will be lined with exhibitors offering classroom materials, field trip and fundraiser ideas, graduate school programs and deals on school products.

A ceremony Friday afternoon will honor Andersen as well as NJEA Hipp Foundation grant recipients and this year’s Award for Excellence recipient, Patricio Molina.

In addition, the winners of the STEAM Tank competition will be announced Thursday. Finalists for STEAM Tank, a statewide science, technology, engineering, art and math competition sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association and the U.S. Army, competed last month at the NJSBA Workshop in Atlantic City and included several students from local school districts, including Egg Harbor Township, Ocean City, Little Egg Harbor Township, Cumberland Regional and Atlantic County Institute of Technology.

“This event is a highlight of the year for many members who find it an invaluable opportunity to enhance their skills, meet their colleagues and learn about innovations in their fields,” Baker said.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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