During the 1930’s, educators of Essex County were faced with salary problems.  As a result of the depression there had been no increments and there were actual cuts.  In addition, there were many classroom teachers who were aware the professional duties should take them beyond the walls of the classroom to positions of leadership in educational organizations.  Interest in legislation for education was a third area with which many were concerned.  Over a period of time, there were many small meetings in the County where these problems were discussed.  Finally, in 1939, a representative group was called together at East Orange High School by Newark teacher, Mr. William Devonald.  He had been active in his local association, but felt that unity at the County would be more effective.  This was the birth of the Essex County Education Association and ECEA was incorporated in 1939.


Meetings continued and by 1942, a constitution had been drafted and all local associations of the County, with the exceptions of Newark, Verona and Glen Ridge, had approved it.  These districts joined shortly thereafter.  Since there was almost complete approval, it was decided to elect permanent officers as provided for in the constitution.  Mr. Frank Stover served as temporary chairman and called for nominations for President.  Mr. Devonald, the only nominee, was unanimously elected.  A bank account was opened at the Irvington National Bank for convenience of the Treasurer, Miss Anita Lehlback, who lived in Irvington.

In March 1942, the constitution was submitted to NJEA for approval of standards.  In May, the Association was informed by the NJEA Elections Committee that approval had been given to carry out NJEA nomination procedures in Essex County.  Organization of the first nominating committee resulted.  The purpose was to nominate candidates for the NJEA Delegate Assembly, Executive and Nomination Committees of the State Association.

The County was now in a position to serve as liaison between locals and the State Association (NJEA).

Dues were assessed at five cents per member, payable by local associations.  They were raised to ten cents in 1945 and twenty-five cents in 1959.  In 1963, they were again raised to fifty cents.  By 1972, the assessment reached $5.00 per member and local associations made payment to the County Association (ECEA) for individual membership at regular intervals.  In 1972, the Unification Program was introduced and educators realized the importance of joining all four associations – local, county (ECEA), state (NJEA) and the national (NEA).  Update: 1989:  Wendell Parr (Belleville), Membership Chair, headed a committee to study ECEA Dues.  The Committee recommended that ECEA follow in NJEA’s footsteps by having the dues be raised automatically each year at a rate of 6% of NJEA’s dues increase (to the lowest 10 cents).  It was passed by both the Executive Board and Rep. Council by secret ballot.

In 1956, a committee was appointed to study the advisability of having a budget set up for ECEA.  Regular yearly budges have been prepared since.

Interest in legislation has been a prime concern.  The largest program of the yearly agenda is a dinner given in April to honor legislators of County, State and National office.  This is now tradition which dates back to 1941.  In 1955, it was decided that rather than limit the attendance to key people in each community, all educators would be included.  This idea of an expanded dinner now places reservations at about 900.  This affair is a formal with all gentlemen wearing suits and ladies in floor-length evening gowns.  A two-tiered dais seats the ECEA officers, leaders and legislators. On two occasions, special centennial celebrations were included.  NJEA in 1953 and NEA in 1956.  In 1979, our ECEA Legislative Dinner was filmed by Suburban Cablevision (now Comcast).

From time to time, members have been encouraged to place their names in nomination for seats in the New Jersey Assembly.  In 1955, lists were submitted to both political parties for consideration.  In 1957, a single candidate was placed on the ticket, but was unsuccessful in the election.

Representatives attend conferences on State and county levels and all members of local associations have been kept informed by the ECEA legislative Committee as to pertinent legislation concerning education.  In 1972, the very important Political Action Committee (PAC) was organized by NJEA and our County Association has been very active in this area.

The Constitution has been revised several times in order that all its provisions be up to date and in compliance with NJEA and NEA By-Laws.

Calendar/Directories have been compiled each year so that it is possible to have records of local officers and committee chairmen for reference.

Surveys and evaluations are conducted frequently in areas of interest.  In 1954, the ECEA Essexchange was edited and it is the official news reporter of the Essex County Education Association.

The first ECEA “Open House” was initiated at the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City in 1959.  The affair has developed to be a luncheon for Essex County Education Association members and their guests.

The ECEA has also had a travel committee and flights to Europe and around the world have been chartered for members and their families.

Yearly Professional Improvement Conferences have been conducted dealing with current topics of interest.  Over the years, new committees and conferences have been set up when the need arises.  Some of these are:  Reaching the Public, Human Relations, Personnel & Property, Higher Education, and Environmental Education.  Summer workshops train those in attendance for duties of the Association.  ECEA, in cooperation with the NJEA-Retired Association, and the Essex County Retired Educators Association, presented a very successful program in 1975 dealing with “Preparation for Retirement”.  It’s purpose was to supply information for Essex County teachers contemplating retirement within the next five years.

Protection for our Association was insured by incorporation in 1962.  

A member of the Essex County Education Association has been invited to sit at County Council meetings of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

When the ECEA was organized, meetings were held in schools around the County and officers kept supplies and records in their homes.  In 1966, an office was rented in South Orange.  In 1968, a secretary was hired.

Kay Mathesius 1968 – 1969

Andrea Elia 1969 – 1971

Sandy  Linton 1971 –

In 1972, a Public Relations Coordinator was hired and added to the staff:

Paul Sandals-Lelling       1972 – 1975

Diane Moskowitz         1975 – 1983

In order to help cut down on work of officers and committee chairmen, a new position of Executive Director was created.  In February of 1975, this position was filled by Max Kletter of Nutley.  Max held this job for a couple of years and, our ECEA Secretary, Sandy Linton, was appointed to his job after he was let go.

     In 1971, ECEA moved to one rented room in the bank building on 487 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange.  In 1973, a new building was being built at 780 Northfield Avenue in West Orange.  Sandy’s father-in-law was the plumber and told us about it.  The officers toured the new building and decided to rent the first floor, left side.  It was divided into four spaces – front room for reception and Sandy, President’s office, next room was for Treasurer, and a small conference room in the back.  After three years, we were getting too big for our office.  A court reporting company had the whole second floor and was going to move to Roseland.  ECEA then moved upstairs and took over the whole 2nd floor.  We stayed there until 2002.  We tried to purchase the building we’d been in for over 25 years, but the owner wasn’t ready to sell.  The hunt was on for a new ECEA building.  We searched for quite a while and finally purchased 350 Main Street in West Orange.  We stayed at 350 Main Street until 2016.  

In 1995, ECEA organized our Pride in Public Education Committee.  We have held a Pride Expo at Livingston Mall for 24 years.  In addition to displaying the arts and crafts of the Essex County students, we have live performances going on all week long.

There is a Pride Essay Contest as the culmination of the Pride Expo.  

     In 2016, the officers of the ECEA (Anthony Rosamilia, President (Livingston); Jacqui Greadington, Vice-President (East Orange); Christine Candarella, Treasurer (Bloomfield); and Michael Rollins, Secretary (East Orange Secretaries Assoc.) and the newly-formed Building Committee, began looking for new offices for ECEA.  The problem with 350 Main Street was the parking.  We had plenty of room in the building, but only about 12 parking spaces.  We couldn’t have any large meetings at the office and had to meet in restaurants all the time.  This became extremely expensive.  After a long search, the building committee found a double side-by-side office condo in Cedar Grove.  The parking is almost unlimited.  We figured that we could either rent out the second condo, or if times get rough, we could hold on to it for investment and sell it if we needed the money in the future.  We moved into the office the end of October, 2016.

A blood bank for the convenience of our members was started and run by Caldwell-West Caldwell School Nurse, Eleanor Grunberg, and has been a very helpful benefit.

An open meeting in May of each year for all educators of the County has been a highlight of the program.

The Associations has always been mindful that lay-persons interested in education have done much for the profession and for the boys and girls in our schools.  At the first ECEA Legislative Dinner, every local association was asked to select an outstanding citizen from its community who had made a notable contribution to education and to escort them to the dinner to be appropriately recognized with an award by the ECEA.  The names were placed on a Roll of Honor framed and delivered to Mr. Lawrence Chase, Essex County Superintendent of Schools, to place in the Hall of Records.  Over the years the philosophy has changed to the idea of presenting one award for county-wide service to education.  The recipients have been:

1952 Dr. Theresa Fitzpatrick, Newark Board of Education

1953 Mrs. Parker O’ Griffith, Cultural

1959 Senator Donald C. Fox, Legislator

1960 Mr. Gregory Hewlett, Newspaper Editor

1961 Essex County Parent Teacher Association

1962 Mr. Elmer M. Matthews, Legislator

1963 Mrs. Arthur L. Davis, President, New Jersey P.T.A.

1964 Mrs. Levon Khachadourian, President, Essex County P.T.A.

1965 Mr. C. Stewart Hausmann, Irvington Board of Education

1966 Mr. Edward J. Lenihan, Nutley Board of Education

Mrs. Frank H. Calioto, Bloomfield

1967 Senator Nicholas Fernicola, Legislator

1968 Mrs. George D. Brown, President, Essex County P.T.A.

1969 Mrs. Mary B. burch, Civic Leader

1970 Mrs. Hilda L. Jaffee, Verona Board of Education

1971 Mr. Alexander J. Matturi, Legislator

Mr. Kenneth Wilson, Legislator

1972 Mr. Thomas Kean, Legislator

1973 No award given

1974 Mr. Frank Dodd, Legislator

1975 Emil Oxfeld, Esq., Attorney

1976 Congressman Joseph G. Minish, Legislator

1977 Congressman Peter Rodino, Legislator

1978 Senator Wynona Lipman, Legislator

1979 Assemblyman Willie B. Brown, Legislator

1980 No award given

1981 No award given

1982 George Branch, Newark Civic Leader

1983 No award given

1984 Morton Reinhart, NJEA Staff Member

1985 Sen. Carmen Orechio, Nutley – legislator

1986 Jerome Grecco, Verona – Freeholder President

1987 Assemblyman James Zangari, Legislator

1988 Assemblyman John V. Kelly, Legislator

1989 Assemblywoman Marion Crecco, Legislator

1990 Frank Lautenberg, U.S. Senator, Legislator

1991 Thomas J. D’Alessio, Essex County Executive

1992 Wakefern – ShopRite Supermarkets

1993 Assemblyman Paul DiGaetano, Legislator

1994 Senator Ronald Rice, Legislator

1995 Congressman Donald Payne, Legislator

1996 No award given

1997 Assemblywoman Nia Gill, Legislator

1998 Assemblyman Gerald Zecker, Legislator

1999 Senator Richard Codey, Legislator

2000 Assemblyman LeRoy Jones, Legislator

Assemblyman Craig Stanley, Legislator

2001 No award given

2002 Appreciation Award for Outgoing Assemblymen:

John V. Kelly and Gerald Zecker

2003 Jim Quinn, West Orange, Civic Leader

2004 Assemblyman Donald Tucker, Legislator

2005 Jerry Eisenberg, Star Ledger Reporter

2006 Senator Ronald Rice, Legislator

2007 Assemblywoman Oadline Truitt, Legislator

2008 Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, Legislator

2009-2017 No award given

2018  Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Legislator

2019  Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Legislator

2020 and 2021 – Leg. Dinner cancelled due to COVID pandemic

2022  Leroy Jones, Chairman of the Essex County Democratic Committee


In 1969, the Awards Committee was asked to select an educator of Essex County, who through a sincere interest, unselfish devotion and personal dedication, had made some notable or outstanding contributions toward the improvement of public education.  This is known as the “Award for Distinguished Service to Educator”.  Recipients have been:

1969 Malcolm U. McClinchie, Teacher

1970 Mrs. Florence “Pepper” Phraner, Retired Teacher (Cald-W. Cald.)

1971 Miss Gladys Geer, Retired Teacher

1972 Michael Rosamilia, Assistant Superintendent

1973 William Devonald, Retired Teacher

1974 Frank Stover, Bloomfield Superintendent (Posthumously)

1975 Ralph Mazzocchi, Retired Teacher (West Orange)

1976 John A. Thornton, NJEA UniServ Field Rep. (Reg. 21)

1977 Mrs. Mollye Spruel, Retired Teacher (Montclair)

1978 Mrs. Virginia M. Klumb, Retired Teacher (Cald-W. Cald)

1979 Walter J. O’Brien, NJEA Government Relations Director

1980 Miss Rita Hogan, Retired Teacher (Montclair)

1981 Miss Florence M. Mallinson, Retired Teacher (Newark)

1982 Morgan T. Loesch, East Orange Assistant Superintendent

1983 Ms. Barbara Harris, Past President of Newark Teachers’ Assoc.

1984 Ms. Mary Dell Morrison, So. Orange-Maplewood Teacher

1985 William C. Little, Past ECEA President, S.Or-Maplewood Teacher

1986 Katherine J. Weidemann, Past ECEA President, W. Essex Teacher

1987 Ruth Buehrer-Palmer, Past ECEA President, Newark Teacher

1988 Mrs. Eleanor Arthur, Belleville Teacher

1989 Bruce Gettle, North Caldwell Teacher

Robert Neff, Past ECEA President and Verona Teacher

1990 Dr. Elena Scambio, Essex County Superintendent of Schools

1991 Wendell Parr, Belleville Teacher

1992 Nicholas M. Galante, West Orange Teacher

1993 Ms. Lorena E. Tyson, Montclair Teacher

1994 Mrs. Kathy Hayser, Montclair Teacher

1995 Martin Lang, Belleville Teacher

1996 No award given

1997 Thomas Testa, Past ECEA President, Belleville Teacher

Joan Richardson, East Orange Teacher

1998 Thomas Cusick, Past ECEA President, Nutley Teacher

1999 Ms. Gloria Amatrudi, Montclair Teacher

2000 Ms. Dorothy Grisby, Newark School Nurse

2001 Brenda Hofler-Battle, Newark Teacher

2002 Joseph Macaluso, Montclair Teacher

2003 Roseann Tangorra, Nutley Teacher

2004 Sally Tallmadge, So. Orange-Maplewood teacher

2005 Jacqui Greadington, East Orange Teacher

2006 Juanita Benjamin, Past ECEA President, Livingston teacher

2007 Eileen Gilbert, Montclair Teacher

2008 Geraldine Cohens-Headley, Orange Teacher

2009-2017 No award given

2018  Brian Rock, East Orange, Teacher

2019 – Peter Blodnik, Belleville Teacher (Gov’t. Relations Co-Chair)

2020 and 2021 – Leg. Dinner cancelled due to COVID pandemic

2922  Jacqueline (Jackie) White, East Orange (Gov’t Relations Co-Chair)

An important objective and activity has been to render service to locals on salary matters.  As stated in the introduction, the desire for the improved economic well-being of the county’s teachers was one of the reasons for founding the County Association.  From 1947, when the first Salary Committee was organized, this service consisted of meetings for salary chairmen.  Confidential information was exchanged in regard to salary requests and guides.  In 1956 services were expanded.  Local officers and salary committee members joined chairpersons where workshops, including dinner, heard authorities discuss effective techniques in areas of mutual concern.  Some of these were:

Ways in which to work with administrators, the Board and the public

Needs for and ways of affecting placement of all on the salary guide

Good guide patterns

Importance of high goals

Use of research materials

Merit pay

State minimum salary campaign

Teacher-Board relations

NJEA and NEA gave generous and valuable assistance.  Much credit and thanks must be recorded for Miss Gladys Geer for her untiring efforts.

Throughout its history, the County Association has rendered invaluable help to local associations on salary information and know-how without becoming involved in local activities.  The Association has been a pioneer in this field and many counties in the state have started similar clinics.

As a result of the dedication and loyalty of the members of our profession, we have enjoyed the reputation of having a good County Association.  Committee-members and officers over the years have shown fine leadership.  They have served not only the County and local associations, but have had responsible positions on state and national committees.  Many, many hours of study and preparation have been donated by members, plus miles of night and weekend travel to meetings.  Patience, understanding and hard work of truly-dedicated professional members have built this Essex County Education Association.

Note:  A majority of the above information was written by Florence “Pepper” Phraner, ECEA Historian and retired teacher from Caldwell-West Caldwell in 1966.  ECEA Executive Director, Sandy Linton, has updated this from 1975.


ECEA Presidents:

   Mr. William Devonald

Mr. Harold Wells

Dr. Frank Stover

Miss Kathryne McAuliffe

Dr. Howard Fehr

Miss Ethel Sheldon

Mr. William Fenstermaker

Mrs. Evelyn Chester

Mr. Charles Leske

Miss Ethel Wille

Mr. Matthew Smith

Dr. Harry Jellinek, Newark

Mr. Bert Card

Mr. Ray Ast

Miss Florence Phraner, Caldwell-West Caldwell

Miss Carolyn Cassini

Mr. Robert Hilton

Mr. Stephen Stripp

Mr. Allan Davenport, Caldwell-West Caldwell

Mr. LeRue “Skip” Stellfox

Mr. Ralph Mazzocchi, West Orange

Miss Janet Campbell, Caldwell-West Caldwell

Ms. Ruth M. Buehrer (Palmer), Newark

Mr. Robert Neff, Verona

Ms. Katherine J. Weidemann, West Essex Regional

Mr. William C. Little, So. Orange-Maplewood

Mr. James Casalino, Irvington

Mr. John Griwert, Nutley

Mr. Don Nicolato, Montclair

Mr. Thomas Testa, Belleville

Mr. Thomas Cusick, Nutley

Mr. John Coulter, Caldwell-West Caldwell

Mrs. Juanita Benjamin, Livingston

Mr. Anthony Salese, Belleville

Mr. Anthony Rosamilia, Livingston. (Sept. 1, 2012 – Aug. 31, 2022)

Mrs. Christine Candarella, Bloomfield (Sept. 1, 2022 -   )


Update 2016:  The ECEA Constitution Review Committee met to discuss several items:  The unwieldy size of the Executive Board, changing officers’ terms from two years to three years, Addition of a 2nd Vice-president and a NJEA Executive Committee Liaison (to be filled by the NJEA Executive Committee-member from Essex in office).  After much discussion, all were passed by both Executive Board and Rep. Council.


The Executive Committee had gotten too large and was basically a dress rehearsal for the Rep. Council. 

Present Executive Board                    Proposed Executive Board

President President

Vice-President 1st Vice-President

Secretary 2nd Vice-President

Treasurer Secretary

NJEA Executive Comm. Member Treasurer

NJEA Delegate Assembly Members (6) NJEA Executive Committee Liaison

Bargaining & Organizing Chairperson NJEA Delegate Assembly Members (6)

Building Committee Chairperson Bargaining & Organizing Chairperson

Congressional Contacts (2) Educational Support Professional Chair

Educational Support Professional Chair Higher Education Chairperson

Elections/Nominating Chair Human & Civil Rights Chairperson

Health & Safety Chairperson Legislative/LAT/Gov’t. Rel. Chairs (2)

Higher Education Chairperson Professional Development Chair

Human & Civil Rights Chairperson Professional Rights & Resp. Chair

Leg/LAT/Gov’t. Relations Chair (2)

Member Services Chair

Membership Chair

Minority Leadership & Recruitment Chair

Overnight Chair

Out-of-State Chair

Pride Chair

Professional Development Chair

Professional Rights & Resp. Chair

Urban Education Chair

Vocational Education Chair

Women in Education Chair

Special Committees:

Budget Chair

Program Committee:

Public Relations Chair



In the beginning of 2020, there was talk about a serious virus out of China that was spreading rapidly.  In March, many people world-wide were infected and there were many seriously ill and many fatalities.  President Donald J. Trump stopped all people entering the country from other countries.  After that, many states were closing their doors also to outside visitors.  Each month, the numbers of infections and deaths continue to climb.  The schools have been closed – only virtual at-home classes.  All restaurants and most businesses are all closed.  The whole population must wear masks when they leave their homes and when being near other people.  This is a scary situation that none of us have ever experienced before.  How long will it last?


It is now January of 2021 – a new year.  The pandemic is still going strong.  However, there are a few different vaccines out.  First-responders, medical personnel, etc. are the first group to get the two-part vaccine.  Next will be the teachers, elderly with underlying health issues, etc.  It’s been almost a full year now and the hope is that once the vaccine has been given to everyone, it may let up.  Unfortunately, not everyone trusts the vaccine and is not taking advantage of it.  The ECEA Office has been getting threatening phone calls day after day from parents saying children are not learning virtually and that the teachers need to get back in the classroom NOW!  


There is also a lot of unrest in our government – President Donald Trump has been impeached for the second time.  Joseph Biden has been elected President of the U.S.  Donald Trump has a few days left in his term and isn’t going quietly.