Each student will ascend

Welcome from the Superintendent

September, 2019

Dear Morris School District Community,

My recent conversations with our administrators and teachers have centered around key questions we continue to explore:  How can we instill confidence in each child so they feel they can accomplish anything?  Are our students gathering strength from us?  What do we see when we look at educational practice through the lens of equity and inclusion?  

Such questions underlie our ongoing focus on the whole child--as learner and as human being--and our commitment to responding to students’ needs in a way that supports their academic, social, and emotional growth.  Our goals remain steadfast:  to ensure that each child belongs and feels valued for what they uniquely bring to the world, and to ensure that each child ascends and feels successful.  For an overview of our district priorities for 2019-2020, please click here.

Across the Morris School District, exciting things are happening at our schools:

  • We see greater numbers of students at the middle and high schools enrolled in our top level courses.  State standardized test scores and other performance measures show that we are increasing student access to these courses without compromising our highest academic standards and expectations.  Please click here to learn about some of our recent achievements at FMS and MHS.  
  • FMS is proud to debut a new program aligned to our district priorities for social-emotional learning:  Ex-SEL (Exploring Social and Emotional Learning) was created by members of our own middle school and district staff to help students develop relationship skills, social awareness, self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making.  
  • In our elementary classrooms, we see the infusion of culturally responsive learning spaces, growth mindset strategies, and self-efficacy strategies to foster inclusiveness and empower our students to feel a sense of control over their own learning.  
  • Finally, we are thrilled to be participating in an unprecedented PreK expansion program that offers the best start for the earliest learners in our community. Together with our established preschool partners, the MSD is now able to provide a free preschool education to 225 three- and four-year-olds, with the expectation that hundreds more will have access to our program in the coming years.

Collectively, we have much to be proud of and to look forward to.

I wish to extend my gratitude to our parent community for partnering with us as we improve our communications and outreach.  We received very constructive feedback at the 10 HSA Parent Feedback Forums last spring and the followup communications survey.  Additionally, we received more than 1000 survey responses for the Morris School District Family Relations Survey.  (Survey results are forthcoming this fall.)  All of this input contributed to our development this summer of a Communications and Community Relations Action Plan, which outlines the manifold strategies we will implement over the next several years as we build a responsive, cohesive, and deliberate system that further strengthens this essential partnership between the district and our community.  

Construction of our new website and integration of our new notification system, SwiftK12, proceed apace; they are the primary communications priorities for the start of 2019-2020.  Thank you for your continued patience while we move toward full-scale implementation of these key platforms.  You will also see new ideas and strategies relative to building-level and classroom-level communications throughout the coming year.  In order for us to be a true “learning organization,” we depend on your continued open, honest, and respectful dialogue with us.

My very best wishes for a happy and engaging school experience for your children.


Mackey Pendergrast
Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Pendergrast shares a story with preschoolers at the Lafayette Learning Center.

National Press Club Presentation on Equity & Excellence
First page of the PDF file: NationalPressClubposter

Please click to enlarge.