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Agenda: New Jersey Teacher of the Year Highlights State Board Meeting

Commissioner Cerf to announce 2013 top-teacher prize, followed by public hearing on teacher preparation

state seal

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 Time: 10 a.m.

Place: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton.

What they are doing: The State Board of Education agenda is about as light as any in recent years, with just two items on the docket as of yesterday. Items could still be added, but those scheduled are the announcement of the New Jersey Teacher of the Year and the separate public testimony on proposed changes to teacher preparation requirements. For the last meeting before the November 5 election, that’s about it.

Teacher of Year: The announcement of the Teacher of the Year is a big deal, with the winner and his or her family coming to Trenton to be feted by the State Board of Education. The teacher and others will address those in attendance, in what is the board’s most public celebration of teaching for the year. In addition to the statewide award, county teachers of the year are also named. The state winner is given a sabbatical, and travels the state for the year to work and talk with teachers and administrators. The winner is also eligible for national teaching honors.

Deregulation on hold: The board is not acting on any administrative code this month -- very unusual for a year that has seen changes coming from the Christie administration almost nonstop. Still pending before the board: new code for such areas as school construction and education support services, such as anti-bullying.

Public testimony schedule change: The board will take public testimony on new teacher preparation code, including changes in the college GPA requirements for new teachers and a mentoring program for existing ones. Given the light agenda, public testimony will move up to 11:30 a.m.

New vice president: The meeting is expected to be led by the board’s new vice president, Joseph Fisicaro. Fisicaro was elected to the post last month, to succeed the late Ilan Plawker, who died in July. Fisicaro has been on the board since 2011, and lives in Evesham Township. He works in the special education office of the Burlington County Institute of Technology in Medford, and was a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools for more than 30 years before that. Fisicaro also served on the Evesham and Lenape Regional boards of education.

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