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Letter From the Executive Director

Dear Friends of the CFE,
As we welcome another school year, it feels a little different than the last few years, almost like a fog is starting to lift. I find myself holding my breath, crossing my fingers for good luck, and trying to bodily manifest the hope I feel as we emerge from our pandemic miasma. In an effort to reconnect with our students and advisors. The Center for Future Educators (CFE) tested the waters last spring with a few conferences, and after a successful summer Academy we are pleased to announce that this school year we are continuing our return to in-person programming. We look forward to seeing the bright smiles of our future educators at conferences and beyond.
If you have seen any news about education this fall, then you have probably heard that there is a national teacher shortage. This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the CFE was founded in 2011 to recruit future educators to work in geographic areas that were facing staffing difficulties, such as urban areas, and in subjects, such as STEM, foreign language, and special education. Thanks to several factors, including the CFE’s collaborative work with colleges and universities throughout New Jersey, we are not facing the critical shortage of some states, but we still have work to do. This Includes the addition of ELL/ESL to our most wanted certification areas. Even more important is our goal of ensuring that there are diverse educators in all districts and across subject areas. Representation matters and research shows that all students benefit from having diverse educators. It is time that our educator workforce reflects the demographics of the students in New Jersey.
Today, we know that school is as much about social and emotional development as it is academics. If you were to ask a group of people what the purpose of education is, you would likely get as many different answers as people. Some would say to train people for the workforce, some would say to level the playing field, and yet others would say to teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, even more important than all these is the idea that an effective democracy needs an educated citizenry. To quote the indomitable Marian Wright Edelman, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” The only way to ensure your voice is heard is to participate in the democratic process, and the place where you learn about the democratic process is school. Some of the best, most effective teachers are the ones who believe that their students are change makers—people who will leave the world a better place than they found it. It is up to us to make sure our students have the academic knowledge and social and emotional understanding to be the change makers of the future because as Elizabeth Warren reminds us, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.”
—Dr. D.