CHATHAM, NJ - The way Chatham High Principal Darren Groh sees it, a key factor in the elevated rankings his school keeps receiving is the "trust" that flows through the community and the district.
The parents trust the administration to make the right decisions, the administrators trust the teachers and the teachers trust the students. A full circle of trust leads to higher achievement and a student who is ready for the workforce or college.
"When you trust students to make good, responsible decisions and they do it, it's going to breed more good decisions," Groh said. "We spend a lot of time trying to provide as many opportunities for our kids as possible. We work together as a staff and administration. When they leave here, they have more direction than they would have if they weren't provided the opportunities at the high school."
Chatham ranked No. 1 by New Jersey Magazine in the magazine's last two bi-yearly rankings, learned this week that it was ranked the No. 3 public high school in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Overall, Chatham was No. 7 in the state and No. 189 in the nation, according to the report.
"Part of that success that is not measured is the environment that's nurtured within the school," Groh said. "Kids feel safe and generally happy coming to school. They respect their teachers so they're going to work for them and in turn, the teachers respect the kids, so they're going to work and prepare for them. It breeds that success.
"Teachers treat kids like young men and women. We give them opportunity to make the right decision. We have structure, but we don't have a lot of rules and regulations. We expect that the kid is going to do what's right and when they do, they realize they have that freedom and they respect that."
Chatham High Principal Darren Groh talks about the latest ranking by U.S. New & World Report
While taking a routine walk through the halls Wednesday, Groh stopped at the school library and noted that next year every student will have a chrome book, and there will be very few computers needed in the library. It's all part of the continuing advancement of education.
"There is never a time where we sit back and say we're good enough," he said. "Kids are always changing. The staff is changing. New programs are out. So we always want to provide what's best for kids to grow and develop and be prepared for when they leave here, to go to work or to go to college. If we ever sat back, we'd fall way back and limit their experience."