January Spotlight! Meet Our Leaders: Megan Namnama

Stay tuned for this month’s NJSEA spotlight, Megan Namnama, who serves as a member of the NEA Advisory Committee, NJSEA Political Action Chair, and the Founding President of NJSEA at Montclair State University. Within this past month, Namnama has declared her candidacy for NEA Student Program Chairperson. Come summer, she will attend the NEA Summer Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. as a member of the NEA Advisory Committee, a representative of NJSEA, and a candidate for the Chairperson position. If elected, she will represent thousands of pre-service educators across the country for two years. Read below for more on what Namnama’s NJSEA colleagues have to say regarding this new prospect, and stay tuned for the interview. 

“Megan epitomizes every aspect of the NJSEA mantra– Leadership Matters!”
–Marguerite Schroeder, NJSEA Staff Contact

“Megan is a passionate and dedicated leader who I have had the pleasure to work with the last two years.  She is a strong and positive presence within NJSEA and has a powerful internal drive to work toward the betterment of education.  Her desire to achieve is motivating and has inspired all who have had the pleasure to meet her.  On top of her educational achievements, Megan is a wonderful person to just talk to and have fun with.  She has a captivatingly positive personality and a large heart.”
–Hannah Pawlak, NJSEA State President

“Megan, as an NJSEA member and leader, is one of the most dedicated people I know. Her passion for education and politics is inspiring to all around her. There is no better fit for the NEA SP chair than Megan, and I look forward to supporting her further as she runs her campaign and future leadership positions. I, along with the rest of the NJSEA, wish her well.”
–Ellen Bacon, NJSEA State Secretary

“Getting to know Megan over the last few years has been a true pleasure.  I could not imagine a better person to represent the pre-service educators of America.  She is a strong and passionate advocate in everything she does.  I know that she has our vision and purpose in mind and will work hard to ensure that the pre-service voice is heard!”
– Ellen Bonitatibus, NJSEA Local Outreach Chair

“Megan Namnama is the epitome of leadership. Hardworking, dedicated, energetic…these are all words that come to mind when thinking about who she is. Since the day I met her, she has made an impact on me and my view of what it means to be a leader and give back to your community. The dedication she brings forth into all her endeavors is highly admirable. Working with her is a privilege. No matter what she is doing, she always gives everything 110%. I’ve got to say, seeing how passionate she is about educational aspirations, as well as her political aspirations, is always inspiring. She takes on everything she does with dignity and grace, and always strives to be compassionate, understanding, and helpful. Knowing the person that she is, and how strong her character is, I know that Megan would be the perfect NEA SP Chairperson. Her heart and soul are poured into everything she does, and this would be no different.”
–Nadia Efa, NJSEA Ambassador at Montclair State University

“Driven. Passionate. Determined. Megan continues to model the highest standards of integrity, energy, and outstanding leadership as a voice for future educators and an advocate for the well-being of students across New Jersey and the nation. I’m proud to call her my colleague in public education, as well as my friend.”
–Victoria Hilario, NJSEA Social Media Chair

 “Megan is a great leader. She exhibits all of the pillars of NEA-SP. Megan is always thinking of others and how she can help them, and takes steps to do so.”
–Samantha Selikoff, NJSEA NJEA Relations Chair

“I knew that Megan would be a great leader from the moment we met. Testament to this is her ability to lead as a wonderful State Ambassador. She is able to organize other leaders, as evidenced by her enthusiastic lobbying efforts and the formation of a new chapter at Montclair State University.”
–Melany Reyes, President of NJSEA at Farleigh Dickinson University- Metropolitan Campus

“Megan is one of the most dedicated pre-service educators I have met through NJSEA. She is passionate about her future students and peers. She has been such an asset to NJSEA and has taught all of us so much about political action! Megan would be an amazing choice for NEA SP Chairperson, and she completely deserves it. This position requires passion for the field, and Megan has it!”
​–Mariah Belber, NJSEA Ambassador at The College of New Jersey


FDU Students on Why They Want to Teach

I want to teach because I had wonderful teachers throughout my educational career. I want to give back, as my teachers did. I want to help my future students to achieve their dreams. I am involved in the union because it is a way to further my education on how to be an effective teacher. I am able to meet new people and learn about other people’s experiences.
-Cierra, Fairleigh Dickinson University

One of the main reasons for wanting to teach is the incredible feeling of taking a leap of faith in others as you teach and grow with them. I always knew that I wanted to help people become better and lead them to success. However, teaching was never on my list. At first I was too focused on the salary instead of the passion and love of doing a job. It was difficult and at times frightening for me to want to go into education. I never saw it as an option, because I was too busy thinking about the monetary worth of teaching. 
Fortunately, I had my sister and many other supporters help me realize that I would be working for a long time and that I should pick something that I loved to do no matter the income. That’s when the spark went off and I could think of no better job than to teach. I didn’t realize this before, but I have the ability to empathize with people and build a deep connection with them, which to me is important when it comes to teaching. I enjoy helping others understand whatever they are struggling with and see that “aha” moment. What’s more, I want to be a teacher leader and learn to work with my coworkers to improve the school system and learn from my students. I want to challenge people to do better, and be better. I know that I will make a positive change in this field. Whether this is to many students or just one, I have no doubt that that there will be growth involved.
-Vildana, Fairleigh Dickinson University

“What Advice Would You Give to Others Considering Majoring in Education?”

“If you want to make a difference in the lives of others and have a positive impact on the future, education is the right major for you! No other profession has the ability to shape our future quite like teaching does, so we need strong, dedicated, and motivated individuals to serve as educators if we want to see a positive future.”
-Liz, The College of New Jersey

“Make sure to ask yourself exactly why you are thinking of a career in the education profession in the first place. Are educating and being entrusted with other people’s children and adolescents truly what you want to do in life? Are you really willing to put in the work? What are your long-term priorities and ambitions, and will a career in education truly help you achieve these goals?”
-Victoria, Seton Hall University

“Being in the education profession is a learning experience every single day. You have to be ready for the unexpected answers and actions. Teachers have to be flexible in that way. People who aren’t educators just don’t get it. They won’t get you, your workload, or your passion. They do not understand why we slave away at all hours of the day. They don’t understand the summers spent on professional development and lesson planning – in fact, they think we just get restful, vacation filled summers off. They do not understand when we spend our own money on school supplies for our students. It is something unique to the teaching profession. We care deeply about our students and their education to the point where we sometimes forget about ourselves. Remember, it is all for the good of the students, but don’t forget to take care of yourself.”
-Chelsea, The College of New Jersey

“Get involved on your campus. Classes are obviously the most important part of getting your degree as a pre-service educator, but involvement in organizations that target pre-service teachers helps increase opportunities to be involved in the profession early, and allows students to attend professional development where you can meet full time members who have so much knowledge to share with pre-service educators.”
-Mariah, The College of New Jersey

“Although many people in today’s society will try to convince you to change your mind about education, you are studying to become one of the most influential figures in a child’s life. Work hard, take advantage of all opportunities, and remember why you fell in love with the profession.”
-Ellen, Rowan University

“Get involved and utilize your network. Advisors don’t always tell you the information you need so utilize your network of mentors so you can get the most out of your college experience.”
-Samantha, The College of New Jersey

Why I am Thankful for NJSEA

By Mariah Belber, The College of New Jersey

Around the holiday season, on every social media platform you see people discussing why they are thankful for all of the wonderful things they have in their lives. NJSEA is something that I am very thankful for, and I’m going to tell you why.

1. Professional Development Opportunities As a pre-service educator, you constantly hear from current educators talking about the amount of PD hours they need. As a member of NJSEA, I have been able to attend so many different workshops, from events hosted by the chapter on my campus, events held by NJSEA, workshops held by many of the county associations, the NJSEA Educational Leadership Matters Conference, and, my personal favorite, the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City. Attending these workshops supplement what I am not learning in the classroom, and helps me learn more about topics that I am interested in, such as Dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder (specifically Asperger’s Syndrome).

2. Leadership Opportunities NJSEA’s motto is Educational Leadership Matters. This motto is truly brought to life by the NJSEA Leadership team. As one of the many state ambassadors, I have had the privilege of working with the wonderful and dedicated pre-service educators on this team, and I have learned so much about the qualities of a good leader. In turn, I have also learned even more about myself as a leader. One of the best things about NJSEA Leadership is that there are not only state level leadership opportunities, but that these prospects are also available on a campus level, as well as a national level, so there is something for everyone’s interests and schedules.

3. Traveling Opportunities The past two summers I have been fortunate enough to be chosen to help represent NJSEA at the Summer Leadership Conference for the NEA-SP in Denver, Colorado (Summer 2014) and Orlando, Florida (Summer 2015). This may sound corny, but it is completely true: attending these conferences has been life changing. Not only have I learned so much about my future profession of choice, but I have been given the chance to meet other passionate pre-service educators from all around the country – even Hawaii! Attending these conferences opened my eyes to how powerful NEA is, and how large the profession of teaching is! An added bonus of getting to attend these conferences was the opportunity to explore a new place (Denver) and play tour guide while in my favorite place on earth, Walt Disney World (Orlando)!

4. Service Opportunities Through NJSEA, I have been able to volunteer with some very deserving groups. While at the Summer Leadership Conference, an entire day is dedicated to service. In Denver, Colorado the day was called “Outreach to Teach,” a program in which the NEA student program works with retired educators and goes to a school and completely “makes it over” through painting classrooms and hallways, decorating bulletin boards, planting gardens, and so much more. My assigned task for that day was bulletin boards in a new teacher’s classroom, and I was lucky enough to get to meet the teacher after she saw her bulletin boards. In Orlando, Florida the NEA-SP day of service was called the “Legacy Project.” This was a little fair for students in a summer program in Orlando. There were so many different options of things for the students to do. They could read books, build a toolbox, dance, and learn about healthy choices. I was able to lead a group who talked about the importance of drinking water. It was so much fun and very rewarding!

5. NJEA Convention In my opinion, NJEA Convention time should be called Teacher Christmas. I LOVE Convention so much! Being able to attend the Convention, as a pre-service educator, is one of the coolest opportunities that NJSEA offers. Not only do I get to attend workshops about any and all educational topics, but I get to meet so many inspiring full-time and pre-service members from all over the state, and hear about what they are doing and what is happening in education all over New Jersey. I joined NJSEA my freshman year so I could attend the Convention, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

6. Benefits of Being an NJSEA Member I don’t know about you, but I love finding a deal. As an NJSEA member, you get this little card that I am pretty sure has magic powers. So many stores offer discounts to NJEA members and it saves me so much money! A.C. Moore, Michael’s, and Jo Ann’s Fabric offer teacher discounts, and as an avid crafter, I think have saved more than the amount of dues I have paid. Another huge NJSEA benefit is the liability insurance. Basically, if anything happens while you are in the field and you need legal help, NJEA has your back for up to 1 million dollars’ worth. As a typical broke college kid, I am so thankful that I can find deals to help me save money on the little things I need while I am studying to become an educator!

7. My NJSEA Family Being part of NJSEA has provided me with so much, as you can see above. One of the greatest things I have been given through NJSEA is a support system. I have met so many of my friends through my involvement of NJSEA. NJSEA is an organization that connects pre-service educators, and gives members a common love to bond over. I am so thankful to have my NJSEA family – they are my support system when I am struggling, my comic relief during stressful times, and getting to see the wonderful people I have met through NJSEA always makes my day so much brighter.

Being a part of NJSEA has changed my college career, and I cannot imagine life without it, so saying I am thankful for it is an understatement, but thank you, NJSEA, for everything.