New Jersey English Journal 2022 Call for Manuscripts

Attention ELA educators! While many of us have returned to a new normal for teaching and learning in English Language Arts, we continue to struggle with responding to the educational consequences of COVID-19 and amplified calls for schools to more directly address inequities and oppression. What do we as English teachers need to do better and how might we do that?

Read the call for submissions here and consider submitting your work for publication! Submissions are due January 9, 2022.

New Jersey English Journal 2022 Call for Manuscripts

NJCTE’s 2021 Writing Contest is open!

The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English
invites New Jersey students in Grades 9-12 to participate in this year’s Writing Contest

“Narrative Time Capsule – 2021”

Submission Deadline: December 30, 2021, at 12:01 am

All categories of writing must respond to the theme “Narrative Time Capsule, 2021.”

Personal Essays
5-page maximum, double-spaced

Short Stories: 
5-page maximum, double-spaced

Any style, does not have to be in narrative form but must respond to prompt (50-lines maximum)

Writing Prompt
Write a poem, personal essay, or short story that creates a time capsule for 2021. 

Beginning at the end of 2019, the world was rocked by the coronavirus. A pandemic brought new practices, procedures, and values to our lives. How did you, your family, school, or community deal with the pandemic? 

Future generations may ask what life was really like learning from home, wearing a mask, and social distancing. Time capsules are a unique way of collecting evidence. Time capsules are an opportunity to find or express what is important at a designated time and place in life. Through your short story or personal essay submission, create a narrative time capsule account that lets the reader experience the changes you felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Visit for further details and to submit your students’ work!

NJCTE’s 2021 Writing Contest is open!

Summer reading, having a blast …

by Susan Chenelle, NJCTE blog editor

While many look forward to their first beach trip of the summer, for me, especially this year, it was my first trip to my local library in more than a year(!) that marked the start of summer. It felt so good to walk through the stacks, carry away an armload of books, and dive into them. Ah, bliss!

So far, Danielle Evans’ The Office of Historical Corrections is the standout of my summer reading. I’ll definitely be recommending Evans’ story “Boys Go to Jupiter” or the titular novella to the English teachers at my school. And I’m thrilled to finally be joining the N. K. Jemisin fan club, even while I’m only half way through the first volume of her Broken Earth trilogy.

And of course, I’m not alone in my summer reading revelry. NJCTE board member Nicole Warchol writes that she recently finished Jeff Zentner’s forthcoming In the Wild Light (August 2021): “As a musician with an appreciation for poetry, readers will find a certain lyricism in Zentner’s prose. Similar to his other novels, this story focuses on what teenagers care about most: the depths of friendship, trying to navigate circumstances that are many times out of their control, and exploring who they are and who they want to be. Cash Pruitt’s story reminds me of the line from Anaïs Nin, ‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’ I’ve had a difficult time reading during the pandemic. Cash’s story about deciding whether to cling to the safety of home or leap toward his future is one of the few books I have been able to finish and enjoy.”

NJCTE membership chair Denise Weintraut shared these recommendations: “When one thinks of fairy tales, we often recall the sanitized versions that comforted us in our childhoods. In The Hazel Wood and its sequel The Night Country by Melissa Albert, fairytales take a dark turn with some magical realism. Set in the modern-day, urban location of New York City, the story examines the extremes that one will undertake in order to save one’s family, and possibly one’s self. Seventeen-year-old Alice is thrust into a series of strange events after her estranged grandmother, an author of a cult-classic book of dark fairytales, dies alone on her hidden estate. Driving the story is the kidnapping of Alice’s mother, supposedly by a character who claims to be from the Hinterland, the cruel world where her grandmother’s stories are set. The only clue left behind is a message from her mother to stay away from the Hazel Wood, the estate where her grandmother lived. One need not be familiar with any of the classic fairytales in order to enjoy this story. If you like adventure, intrigue, and a fast-moving plot, this story will do the trick!”

NJCTE president Valerie Mattessich reports that she “just finished Shiner by Amy Jo Burns and was blown away by the beautiful language and heartrending storyline. I am also currently enjoying World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, which also features beautiful turns of phrase and captures the natural world as it relates to the author’s life.”

Finally, NJCTE board member Joe Pizzo has “been reading A Suitcase of Seaweed & more by Janet Wong. It features poems about Wong’s three cultures: Chinese, Korean, and American. The poems are brief, and there is a backstory and discussion questions accompanying each poem. I’ve also been reading Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 (second edition) by Dr. Debbie Silver. She has updated her original book to include Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow, and more.”

We’d love to hear what you’re reading and enjoying! Please share your summer reading reviews and recommendations below in the comments. We are also looking for recommendations for our next Muriel Becker Award for Literary Excellence winner. If there’s an author of young adult literature you’ve recently discovered and would like to recommend, please send your suggestion to

And don’t forget to sign up for our Summer Learning Virtual Sessions, which kick off tomorrow, July 8, at 4pm, with “Love & Literacy: Developing Student Voice and Agency in Discourse,” led by 2015 NJCTE Teacher of the Year Stephen Chiger.

Summer reading, having a blast …

New Issue of New Jersey English Journal Is Live!

We are proud to share the 2021 issue of New Jersey English Journal (NJEJ). This year’s theme is, “Course Correction: The Adaptive Nature of English Language Arts.”

In this issue, we hoped to create an opportunity for reflection on how the pandemic has changed the course of teaching English Language Arts. In our call for submissions, we asked authors, 

  • How did teaching and learning change during the COVID-19 pandemic? How did teachers and students adapt, both personally and academically? What lessons will we carry with us into future teaching and learning?
  • How did the shift to remote instruction raise awareness of inequities within and across our schools? In what ways can educators create more equitable learning opportunities?
  • In what ways do teachers respond to curveballs—both large and small—from their students, in their own lives, at their institutions, in their communities, or on a national level?
  • In what ways has the ELA classroom or the role of ELA teachers evolved during 2020, and how might it continue to change in the future? How can ELA teachers adapt their methods—for example, by considering issues such as social-emotional learning, social justice, and/or new technologies—to respond to students’ evolving needs and make space for new voices, texts, and approaches?

This issue features work in three genres: poetry, reflective pieces, and research articles. Our authors include current teachers, teacher educators, and literacy leaders. 

One set of articles from teacher educators focused on the importance of preparing pre-service teachers to adapt to quickly changing circumstances (Emily Wender, “Training Adaptive Teachers”) and to be “flexible” (Elizabeth Leer, “Learning to Teach in a Pandemic: Qualities Contributing to Success”). 

During a time of great turmoil and danger to our physical selves, several of these articles remind us that it is ok to “let some things go” (Sheila Benson, “Maybe Elsa’s Right: We Need to Let Some Things Go”) and instead, that it is critical to care for our own and our students’ mental health and social/emotional needs. (See, for example, Latasha Holt and Teesha Finkbeiner’s piece, “Uniting in a Reading Education Course to Support Mental Health Awareness During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Kathleen Adler’s “Reading: The Key to Addressing Students’ Social Emotional Needs in the Time of COVID-19,” and “In Praise of Poetry: Using Poems to Promote Joy, Community, and SEL During the Pandemic” by Jordan Virgil and Katie Gallagher.) 

Additionally, many of our pieces offered guidance and reflection on how to use technological tools to foster student connection and engagement during remote teaching, such as Annie Yon’s piece on Padlet, “How Padlet Encouraged Student Collaboration and Engagement in My Virtual Classroom,” and Maria Geiger’s piece on the flipped classroom, “Flip Your Way Into the Future of Learning.”  

To read the full 2021 issue and access back issues, visit:

New Issue of New Jersey English Journal Is Live!

Teachers Needed for Research on Conceptions of Dis/ability

Please see the following call for research participants from NJCTE member Ashley Pollitt:

I am writing to let you know about an opportunity to participate in a research study about teachers’ conceptions of dis/ability. To participate, you will complete a questionnaire about your professional experiences, teaching background, and conceptions of dis/ability. The questionnaire should take between 20-30 minutes of your time to complete. If you are a high school special or general education literacy teacher who is over 18 years of age, you may be eligible to participate. If you have any questions about the study, please contact the principal investigator, Dr. Nicole Barnes, Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, at Thank you for considering participation in this study. This study has been approved by the Montclair State University Institutional Review Board, Study no. IRB-FY20-21-2204.

Please click here to access the questionnaire.


Ashley Pollitt

Doctoral Candidate: Teacher Education and Teacher Development
Montclair State University

Teachers Needed for Research on Conceptions of Dis/ability

May News: President-Elect Valerie Mattessich, NJEJ Seeks Co-Editors

The NJCTE Nominating Committee, chaired by Susan Reese with members Joseph Pizzo and Nichol Warchol, congratulates president-elect Valerie Mattessich (Pascack Valley Regional High School)!
“In terms of vision, I’m thinking of a theme of ‘connection.’ I’d like to explore ways in which we can partner with a variety of people and other organizations, and ways to connect more teachers to each other regionally, to increase member engagement and provide fulfilling professional learning experiences.“

New Jersey English Journal Is Looking for New Co-Editors

Want to help edit the scholarly and creative journal of the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English? This is a great opportunity to do great work and collaborate with current editor Lauren Zucker. Please consider applying. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, but we will begin to consider submissions after June 15.

May News: President-Elect Valerie Mattessich, NJEJ Seeks Co-Editors

NJCTE Congratulates 2021 Writing Contest Winners and Teachers

Congratulations to the many winners of our 2021 Writing Contest! This year, we had 231 entries! Forty new teachers submitted their students’ work (59 teachers in total). Thirty-one high schools participated.

Five first-time teachers had winning submissions. There was heavy participation in the essay and poetry divisions.  A total of 20 judges assisted through multiple rounds.

Thanks to all the amazing students and teachers who submitted work, to the incredible volunteers who gave of their time in judging the contest, and to NJCTE Writing Contest Chair and Board Member Lynn Kelly!

Please join us in congratulating our winners!

1st Place- Essay
Title: “There Is Promise of Light Even in Darkness”
Student Name: Heather Roselle                  
School: Point Pleasant Borough High School
Teacher: Mrs. Lynn Thompson

2nd Place- Essay
Title: “More Than a Hashtag, More Than a Movement”
Student Name: Allanah Mednard               
School: Pascack Hills High School
Teacher: Jamie Marootian

3rd Place- Essay
Title: “A Tumultuous Time”
Student Name: Kieran Cunningham             
School: Morristown High School
Teacher: Claudine Priola

1st Place- Poetry
Title: “Elegy for My Stupid Brother in College”
Student Name: Catherine Park
School: Bergen County Academies
Teacher: Richard Weems

2nd Place- Poetry
Title: “Foraging”
Student Name: Kristen Park  
School: High Technology High School
Teacher: Kristy Agazarian

3rd Place Poetry
Title: “on the brown couch”
Student Name:  Rebecca Guzman
School: Bruriah School for Girls
Teacher: Rachel Zylberman

1st Place Fiction
Title“Mirror From the Past”
Student Name:  Celeste McKenzie            
School:  North Brunswick Township High School
Teacher: Carolyn Hassenkamp

2nd Place Fiction
Title: “Two Days, One Step”
Student Name: Tessa Rothman
School: Glen Ridge High School
Teacher: Allison Gallo

3rd Place- Fiction
Title: “Two Truths and a Lie”
Student Name: Gian Lee                  
School: Academy of the Holy Angels
Teacher: Nancy Schneberger

NJCTE Congratulates 2021 Writing Contest Winners and Teachers