3168 meals donated in YOUR name… well, twitter handles. Thank you PLN!!

If I wasn’t a Superintendent, I’d be a chef.  I love to cook.  Anything and everything. I am also a firm believer that there is NOTHING more spectacular than a warm, filling meal during the holidays.

Recently, I had a big-ticket purchase that was, well, just not meant to be.  In returning this item, I didn’t even want to be reminded of it, so I decided to flip the money as quick as I can. I returned my item in Princeton, NJ and then met up with friends in Hoboken and New York City (I even got my picture in front of the Chase ornaments — and I don’t like the tourist trap stuff) and even got bombarded by those partaking in SantaCon. In both Hoboken and NYC, I saw the typical onslaught of advertisements that were seeking donations for the holidays. While I normally make my share of charitable contributions, I wanted to do something more this year, and some advertisements triggered some thoughts in my head.

For the most part, 2014 was a fantastic year for me, both personally and professionally.  Much of my success has to do with the fantastic contributions of my PLN here on Twitter. I can never be thankful enough for the scads of followers and those I follow which constantly invigorate, inspire, and inundate me with a groundswelling of support and ideas.  At the Blue Note (a jazz club) – I had the perfect idea — why not combine food and my PLN?

Hence, this year, I did something kind of different.  For every follower on twitter that I have, and for each person I follow, I donated a meal in their name.  On the day of the donation, it was a total of 3168 meals.

Yes, you, PLN and readers of this blog, I bought a holiday meal in your honor. I can’t think of a better way of saying thank you. I printed out my entire list of followers and began ripping pages and stuffing it in with donations.  Certainly unique, but

My donations went all over, but some of the places include Elijah’s Promisethe Community Food Bank of New Jerseythe New Jersey Chapter of the Salvation Army, and The Food Bank of Delaware.

There’s always time  and always a need to help others, not just this time of year.  Whether it be now, later this month, or in 2015, please consider feeding those who need help.  It’s the most rewarding thing in the world.  Some places that you can donate to are at the end of this post.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and a fantastic 2015.


Places that you can donate to:

Greater Philadelphia Food Bank, Inc.     (215)739-7394
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger     (215)769-0659
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Mitzvah Food Project     215-832-0831
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Annie’s Kitchen Food Cupboard     215 848-0916
Philadelphia, PA 19141
Rutgers Cooperative Expanded Food and Nutrition     (856) 225-6169
Camden, NJ 08102
Fresh Start Community Resource Services     (215) 387-2325
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Camden Area Health Education Center Neighborhood Health Van     (856) 963-2432
Camden, NJ 08102
Hope Memorial Food Pantry     (856) 365-6552
Camden, NJ 08105
Cathedral Soup Kitchen, Inc.     (856) 964-6771
Camden, NJ 08105
Faith Tabernacle Church     (856) 541-4500
Camden, NJ 08103
Salvation Army     (856) 338-1700
Camden, NJ 08103
Church Of The Living God     (856) 482-2758
Camden, NJ 08105
Hispanic Counseling and Family Services   (856) 964-3883
Camden, NJ 08105
Neighborhood Center, Inc.     (856) 365-5295
Camden, NJ 08103
Walk In The Light Christian Center     (856) 541-0160
Camden, NJ 08104
Mission Of Love Deliverance Church, Inc.     (215)334-8085
Philadelphia, PA 19145
New Hope Temple Church     (856) 966-0343
Camden, NJ 08103
Sacred Heart Food Sharing Program     (856) 829-7608
Camden, NJ 08104
Aids Coalition Of Southern New Jersey     (856) 338-1650
Camden, NJ 08103
Gatekeeper Ministries International     (856) 342-8045
Location is 5.43 miles from city center Philadelphia
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
View Details
Evangelism Today Christian Church     (856) 541-7977
Camden, NJ 08104
Food Bank Of South Jersey
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Food Bank of South Jersey     (856) 662-4884
Pennsauken, NJ 8110
Philadelphia, PA 19148
View Details
Crestbury Apartments Social Services     (856) 541-9710
Location is 6.25 miles from city center Philadelphia
Camden, NJ 08104
View Details
Chapel Of Annunication-Food Pantry     (856) 547-6878
Lawnside, NJ 08045
Catholic Charities Emergency Services     (856) 764-6940 x26
Delanco, NJ 08075
St. Luke’s U.A.M.E. Church     (856) 933-2857
Lawnside, NJ 08045
Jewish Community Relation Council     (856) 424-1333
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Cathedral Of Love Food Pantry     (609) 835-4141
Willingboro, NJ 08046
St. James Baptist Church and Food Pantry     (609) 387-0737
Beverly, NJ 08010
First Fruits Food Pantry     856-429-6633
Voorhees, NJ 08043
Spanish American Social Cultural Association     (609) 835-1111
Willingboro, NJ 08046
Laurelwood S.D.A. Community Services     (609) 221-5241
Deptford, NJ 08096
St. Vincent DePaul Society-St. Lawrence Church     (856) 627-8824
Lindenwold, NJ 08021
Cedar Lane Missionary Homes     (856) 783-6525
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021
Bethany Baptist Church     (856) 784-2220
Lindenwold, NJ 08021
Circle Of Caring     (856) 629-4228
Turnersville, NJ 08012
Regional Food Bank Incorporated
Clementon, NJ 08021
Sisterhood Incorporated     (609) 747-9333
Burlington, NJ 08016
Star Boat and Charity Club     (609) 871-3540
Willingboro, NJ 08046
Burlington Township Food Pantry     888-847-3278
Burlington, NJ 08016
Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel     (856) 767-7391
Berlin, NJ 08009

Shining Lights On Those Who Need To Be Seen

Holiday lights are somewhat of a spectacle this time of year.  We all know someone who’s “that guy” with “that crazy house of lights”.  I happen to live next to that guy with that house.  You would think it would be a nightmare, but it’s actually the opposite.

My neighbor Dave (whom I call fondly ‘neighbor Dave’) sets up over 65,000 every year.  This year, it’s over 67,000.  There are LED’s & regular lights.  There is music.  There is a Santa in the window.  There is even hot cocoa and candy canes on Fridays and Saturdays.

Setup this year was a rough one for Dave.  Dave lost his wife very suddenly to breast cancer over the summer.  One of the nicest neighbors I ever met, it was a tough loss for our neighborhood.  Dave seriously considered not doing anything at all this year.  Halloween changed all of it after some young trick-or-treaters asked if this indeed was the house that Santa lived in.

Dave amassed an army of 20+ relatives and friends to to place together the decorations.  They debuted last evening.  The coolest part: Dave added a new song and new lighting choreography to go with it.  The song, “Everything Is Going To Be Alight”, was matched pink pink and blue ribbons on Dave’s big LED tree, along with the message “Dedicated to my wife Denise.”  I was choked up for the rest of the evening.

Dave reminded me that there are scads of good people in this world, and that no matter how hard it may be go move forward (especially during the holidays), it’s best for you to do so.  So many other people depend on you — most that you don’t know.

In our schools this holiday season, there are many that are having a hard time, but are showing a smiling face and keep marching on; this includes students, staff, and superintendents. All educators need to show empathy at this time of year; keep your doors open, keep your conversations soft, and keep your eyes open for any and all in need.

We are a school; like the lights at Dave’s house, we shine bright and are suppose to bring smiles to all faces of all ages.  Please do your part in this holiday season do what you can to ensure all can partake in a happy time while they are here at school.

On a side note – Neighbor Dave – Denise is watching your magic light up faces of all ages every single night.  Perhaps her and Jessica are sharing a nice cold lemonade, making fun of both of us :)


My PARCC presentation for Parents, Teachers, and Administrators

Still confused about what the upcoming PARCC test is? See the presentation below:

PARCC for Parents – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

In education, breaking up is hard to do

So, did you hear about the guy who was discussing marriage and the ring he bought with his girlfriend, only to be dumped by the phone just in time for the holidays?

Well, that’s not on here… it’s on a blog I was reading the other night.  There’s my indirect confession – I read blogs when I can’t sleep at night.  I’ve been reading this one lately that lists just about every painstaking detail of his relationship, and after reading his posts, I felt bad for him.  In some aspects, it also reminded me of the middle school romances that I partook in when I was in 8th grade and the ones I got dragged into as a a teacher / administrator from 8th graders.

Recently, I parted ways with an educational company, and in some ways it’s almost like a middle school relationship. We were introduced indirectly, we connected very quickly, we became heavily involved very fast, but once I found out about shady dealings, we broke up.  It was not an easy breakup either, knowing that so many hands are in the fire and meddle with our own business.  Now do you believe me in saying that this was like a tween relationship?  It even had rollercoaster moments towards the end.  Awful.

Here’s the catch – since we are both in the same circles, cutting the cord completely is almost impossible.  We can ignore, we can put on a smile, we can even attempt lame parlor tricks, but we’ll still see / hear / interact with each other to some degree.

There are five things I keep telling myself as I move forward:

1. Smile on the outside and project positivity.  Everyone knows that when a relationship ceases, both parties involved are hurt to a certain degree.  Everyone handles it a different way.  Some are extraverts, some are introverts.  Regardless of how you deal, keep smiling and project your awesomeness.  The company rep and I saw each other a few weeks ago; it was awful for both, and everybody that knew about our split knew it, because they were watching too.

2. Be cordial.  Being cold, unresponsive, or acting like you’re 5 does nothing more than make you look like a fool. While there are certainly two sides to every story, the goal is to still look professional to everyone.  Ignoring does not do that; it makes you look worse, draws even more attention to you, which causes more people to start digging to see what’s going on, and well, you know…

3. Reflect on the good times. The company and I had very good times.  We did some amazing things; we moved some educational mountains. Unfortunately, you can’t control other external company pressures. Enjoy what you had, and move on, as painful as it may be for now.

4. Don’t succumb to lame parlor tricks. I was presenting a few weeks ago and some company reps came in to scope out what I was presenting on.  Really?! Isn’t that act if desperation a sad sign. Would the company rep come in and see it with their own eyes and not rely on biased input? Or was the whole thing a farce to try to intimidate me? Either way, it looked super-duper shady to everyone who knew that we were no longer doing business together and only substantiates further why we parted ways.

5. Remember that time heals all.  Surely it’s hard to admit to right now, and of corse everyone says it, but over time everyone and everything heals. It’s a hard and long upward climb, but I have seen first hand that the most difficult of situations will heal themselves.  As my buddy says, “Breathe.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen when you least expect it.”

With all that being said, I’m tired of posting all of this ho-hum stuff.  Onward to bigger and better things; it’s the holiday season!

The Asterisk Next to a Name

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen more and more why some people generate an asterisk next to their name.  Not in the good way either.  Like the Barry Bonds’ kind of way.

Unfortunately, folks in every line of life, including education,  embark in actions aren’t the smartest.  From a teacher posing in underwear for an adult website for to the administrator publishing videos and then favoriting inappropriate ones on the same channel, stupidity is paramount sometimes.  I think educators forget that whole thing called ‘having a private life’ is void now – especially the higher you climb. The question then becomes “if I come across a person with an asterisk, what do I do?”

Some try to disaffiliate; others remain mum when they come across people with an asterisk.  I recently came across one myself.  I’ve watched this educator go from being on top and respected to being petty and pathetic.  Calling it a fall from grace would be minimal.  You would THINK that folks that travel in the same schools of fish would do their best to keep professional and would demonstrate some type of respect or self-dignity. It’s really sad.

People with self-generated asterisks need to remember that they ALWAYS have an audience, like it or not. Your online and interpersonal actions, whether intentional or not, cause the asterisk to become permanent.

Dignity, integrity, and professionalism are pretty important in education, especially in New Jersey.  Over 200,000 educators, 8,000 administrators, and currently around 544 Superintendents are in The Garden State.  We all swim in the same stream; I would caution anyone who executes a series of actions to fully think through them so one can understand the ramifications.

In other words: don’t be shady.  Shadiness = reasons to believe that there are educational skeletons in the closet, and before you know it, all eyes will land upon you, and for all of the wrong reasons.

Avoid the asterisk; be open, be honest, and be forthright with noticeable actions. I’ll blog about that further in my next post.

I leave you with a fun top ten about maintaining dignity and self-respect, two qualities that often lead to the asterisk in the first place. Some of these are great tips to put you back on track if you feel you are getting the asterisk.

{Courtesy of http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/reputation}

“Dignity /ˈdignitē/ noun

1. The moment you realize that the person you cared for has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you, but a headache.

2. The moment you realize God had greater plans for you that don’t involve crying at night or sad Pinterest quotes.

3. The moment you stop comparing yourself to others because it undermines your worth, education and your parent’s wisdom.

4. The moment you live your dreams, not because of what it will prove or get you, but because that is all you want to do. People’s opinions don’t matter.

5. The moment you realize that no one is your enemy, except yourself.

6. The moment you realize that you can have everything you want in life. However, it takes timing, the right heart, the right actions, the right passion and a willingness to risk it all. If it is not yours, it is because you really didn’t want it, need it or God prevented it.

7. The moment you realize the ghost of your ancestors stood between you and the person you loved. They really don’t want you mucking up the family line with someone that acts anything less than honorable.

8. The moment you realize that happiness was never about getting a person. They are only a helpmate towards achieving your life mission.

9. The moment you believe that love is not about losing or winning. It is just a few moments in time, followed by an eternity of situations to grow from.

10. The moment you realize that you were always the right person. Only ignorant people walk away from greatness.”
Shannon L. Alder


Trunk Bay

#EdCampNJ – a reflection & my materials

I can’t even begin to put into words that awesomeness the emulated form #EdCampNJ 2014.  Over 400 educators on the Saturday before Thanksgiving came together to collaborate, learn, and create. They came, they saw, and they conquered.  The coolest part? How smooth the day went with a modicum of panic and a plethora of teamwork.

image credit: Will Diaz

image credit: Will Diaz

It boils down to the EdCamp New Jersey group. If I recall, we had maybe two group virtual meet ups on GHO or BigMarker. Other than that, we maximized our google group and really used Voxer a couple of days before during the day.  It was like a well oiled machine; everyone had their part, and all pitched in doing whatever had to be done.

One unexpected, but kinda of neat glitch; we had so many people attend that parking became an issue.  Such an issue that the fine boys in blue stopped by and delivered a few 3/12 x 9 holiday cards to those illegally parking.  Once we all legally parked, we were well on our way.


image credit: Kevin Jarrett

People grazed on bagels and pizza, soaked in the schedule board, and partook in an array of conversations, ranging from classroom apps to a MakerSpace lab.

I typically like to facilitate a few sessions.  My first session was entitled “The Dirty 30: Thirty Apps for Classrooms, Schools, & Districts”.  While I wasn’t offering money or food, I had standing room only and had about a dozen people sitting outside of the hall so they can look at the screen.  Humbling is an understatement.  It was a passionate conversation laced with participants leading the discussions and sharing what they know.

Lunch was interesting.  Besides a pose-down to model shirts with myself and Cassie Gorombey (@missCass22 – a former student, and apparently the winner of said pose-down), it was interesting this year to watch dynamics in the lunchroom.  Lots of great conversations; but I did notice two distinctive instances.  The first was an attendee who was acting like she was 4; she placed her earbuds in when someone walked to the table to talk, in a blatant attempt to ignore the person, yet she was paying attention to every word he said.  Kinda sketchy, kind weird, but according to people who work with her, kind of expected.  I hope she had fun and learned a thing or two.

The second peculiar observation was another person walking to sit and talk with other tables to chat during lunch. A few folks ran up to me to watch the pattern; she would sit, someone would make a joke or some excuse, and immediately leave.  Apparently, they were disgusted by her recent actions and reactions. But, the age of gossip girl, scandal, revenge, and every other tween show, all are frenemies and are friends with to keep tabs. I seriously thought this kind of stuff stopped in middle school, but it apparently doesn’t. I guess I am just as guilty, as I was entertained by watching this pattern.

The Glenn Robbins (@GlenR1809) introduced me to clam pizza that was brought down by the gang from EdCampCT. My life has changed forever (don’t knock it until you try it).

After cleaning up, my third session was a much more darker, scarier topic on maintaining the balance of a private and public life. Over the years, social media has been casted in a very negative light, primarily due to stupidity. Being that a colleague and myself have been recently subjected to some horrendous scenarios, I felt it was necessary to share with others and be mindful of what is out in the wild-west of the internet.

As expected, it was an much smaller turnout and had some non-educators in attendance as well.  Some attendees were clearly there, sending iMessages, reviewing tweets, and taking notes. We even had some audio recorders going.  I hope I provided everything they were looking for!

We ended, as always with a SMACKDOWN – a sharing of apps & websites. Always informative; and then – some great prizes and giveaways.  EdCampNJ-14 has dome to a close; the best one yet.  Many then finished the evening over at Chili’s.

What a great day. I slept like a log that night.  With a huge smile on my face. My PLN is amazing. 400 others saw that.


Notes from both sessions I presented on:

EdcampNJ 2014 Collaborative Session Notes

Room:  414  Session:  1

The Dirty 30: Thirty Apps for your classrooms, schools, and Districts

Day: November 22, 2014Time:  session 1

Discussion Leader(s):  Jay Eitner

Participants: please email me at jay@jayeitner.com for names of participants

Notes and links: The link to the HaikuDeck that displayed all presentation materials is located at: http://goo.gl/5mt7JF (yes, you need to register for HaikuDeck, but there is NO charge)

**Credit Due - The Dirty Thirty was built off of another presentation that was designed by Natalie Franzi (@NatalieFranzi) and myself.  We collaborated in a previous EdCamp and presented. Please be sure to follow her, as she contributed most of the curriculum-based apps / websites and has a wealth of curriculum knowledge.**


EdcampNJ 2014 Collaborative Session Notes
Room:  415  Session:  3

Day: November 22, 2014

Time: 12:50 – 1:45

TitleEdu-Skeletons – Keeping your private and public lives separate in this digital age

Discussion Leader(s):  @iSuperEit

Participants:  removed by an EdCamp member; email me at jay@jayeitner.com for list of participants.

Scenarios we covered:

  • Using a personal Pinterest account in a classroom (link on school website / pinterest page dedicated to alcoholic beverages…)
  • Teacher sending text messages to a high school student from another country laced with racial connotations. Not the brightest idea, especially when the student tweets it to the masses and authorities see it.
  • Using Words-With-Friends to have an affair (on school grounds, through district wifi)
  • Public facebook pages / photos for individual users (if you’re tagged in photos, make sure they are appropriate for schools; if not, un-tag them)
  • The angry parent who is not happy with you and starts to search for your name and then variations of your name, only to then find scads of images, videos, and other things.  Yes, they are meant to be private, but if they are out for all to see, it’s fair game under law.
  • The educators who were hacked into and had worms / trojans / tracking software bugged in the computer, allowing them to see everything on their phones, computers, etc.  Not much you can do when it’s overseas; if you are suspicious, DON’T BE A WHITE KNIGHT. Talk to professionals to alleviate the situation; taking it into your own hands makes it worse.

Scenarios I did not get to:

  • Using school wifi to watch R-rated online content through a online movie service – teacher uses an online streaming movie service, watching shows rated R, for personal use (albeit on personal time)You CAN’T use school wifi for personal use!! It’s a violation of the AUP.  The same goes for Sexting through school wifi (pictures, facebook messages, iMessages – if someone wanted to OPRA them, they probably could, or could at least get record of you doing it)
  • Saving personal pictures to a google plus account and not knowing they were listed as public instead of privateteacher saved nude pictures in google plus; teacher did not they were public; when researching for new employment, pictures were found. Pictures also found by members of the incoming community.  No action taken as of now, but when in doubt, don’t save it to the cloud.
  • An educator has her personal life exposed when her abortion from high school is sent to her family and school district by a religious extremist – the person, an activist in Texas, states that he is “born again” and due to his new religious beliefs sends messages to her family, friends, and colleagues (through social media) with documentation.  Could cause an issue in conservative communities.

Notes and links:

Use the free stuff first to knock out most of the problem:

Other websites & articles of interest:

  1. www.reputation.com   (expensive)
  2. www.brandyourself.com   (cheap)
  3. http://goo.gl/h8hMV  – NYT article
  4. http://goo.gl/gg0dm  – Forbes article
  5. http://goo.gl/FPOzh  – 5 free reputation tools

Special thanks to  contributions from Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher, Capehart Stachard, NJPSA, NJASA,  the Legislative Offices of Joseph Cryan (D-20), the Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the NJ Attorney Generals Office.

Yea, I’m watching what you do online.


A former post, but still an important one.

Originally posted on The Sup's Scoop:

Remember that song by Rockwell in the 80’s called “Somebody’s Watching Me”? Well, in the age of the online analytics, they are. A lot. A whole lot. And yes, I am one of them.

Before you get totally creeped out, think about it. Go to google, yahoo, or bing, and look at your ads that pop up. Go to Amazon, Target, or any other store you shop at online. Look at the ads on Facebook. Notice a pattern? Every page is laced with ads relating to products or services you either like, bought, or researched. Why? Analytics.

Never have analytics been more important to a school. How? As a Superintendent, I am constantly publishing important information to our website. Today’s learner and parent circulate around online usage and obtaining the message in multiple ways. How many times have you pushed out a message and didn’t know if it was received?…

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