Trenton, New Jersey - Mackey Pendergrast, Chief Education Officer, Morris School District (MDS), was selected as New Jersey's 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) and is a candidate for the National Superintendent of the Year Award by the American Association of School Administrators' (AASA). He will be formally acknowledged by the New Jersey State Board of Education at their Annual Recognition Ceremony held at the Department of Education’s headquarters in Trenton on December 4th.
In September, NJASA selected Pendergrast as the Region 1 Superintendent of the Year for New Jersey. The other honorees included the Region II winner - Dr. David Aderhold, Chief Education Officer, West Windsor - Plainsboro Regional School District; and Region III winner – David Trethaway, Chief Education Officer, Manchester Township School District.
NJASA introduced the three Regional Superintendents of the Year at the Annual Fall Workshop in Atlantic City. Thousands of school board representatives and district administrators attended the Workshop, which is co-sponsored by NJASA, the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO) and the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA).
In order to pay tribute to the outstanding educational leaders from each state, AASA will honor each state representative and select a National Superintendent of the Year at their Annual Conference in February 2020. This prestigious program, now in its 33rd year, is sponsored by First Student, AIG Retirement Services and AASA.
NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard G. Bozza said, "Mackey is an excellent role model for all aspiring chief education officers to emulate. He is a results-oriented professional who continually strives to improve the quality of education for all students through his knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm."
In accepting this prestigious honor, Mackey Pendergrast said, "This award is a two-fold honor - first, it is an immeasurably rewarding experience for me to be part of the Morris School District’s unique 'community of communities' and to see it ascend."
He continued, "And secondly, the privilege of representing an ascending state, also a unique 'community of communities' that is at the forefront of high-quality innovation in public education, is an especially profound honor."
Under Pendergrast’s leadership, the MSD has seen remarkable growth in student performance, for which it was recently selected to participate in:
- Equity and Excellence: Innovation in American Public Education Showcase at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Reading and writing test scores at Frelinghuysen Middle School have improved dramatically across all grades and demographic subgroups, in some cases tripling over the past four years.
Participation in honors-level and AP classes has also risen steadily; the number of AP exams passed by students at Morristown High School (MHS) has more than doubled since 2015.
MHS also had the greatest number of students in Morris County enrolled in BC Calculus and Physics C (the highest-level math and science courses offered).
The 2020 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year notes that these impressive shifts in student achievement reflect "greater access to exceptional opportunities for more and more of our students to engage their intellectual curiosity and pursue their passions - which means they graduate from MSD with better preparation for their futures."
Pendergrast firmly maintains that the right kind of technology integration will empower students and teachers and revolutionize learning outcomes. Along these lines, the Morris School District has provided universal Wi-Fi to all students in the district who need it, operationalized a one-to-one chromebook program for grades 6-12, and implemented "blended learning" methodologies, which integrate the best of digital and face-to-face learning in the classroom.
Other highlights of Pendergrast’s tenure in the MSD include: a flourishing of new programs in STEM, Computer Science and the arts; a preschool expansion of historic proportions; as well as comprehensive district-wide initiatives in Social Emotional Learning, equity and inclusion, communications and community relations, and student health, wellness and safety.
The 2020 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year was appointed Superintendent of MSD in 2015. Prior to the appointment, he served as Superintendent and District Director of Staff Development for the West Morris Regional High School District.
He began his public school teaching career as a high school history teacher and varsity basketball coach for the Summit Public Schools and held central office administrative positions for the Westfield Public School District.
The 2020 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year is a Morris County Representative to the NJASA Executive Committee and to the NJASA Leadership Diversity Committee. Since 2012, he has been a member of NJASA and AASA. Currently, he serves as Secretary of the Morris County Superintendents’ Roundtable.
A prolific writer and presenter, Pendergrast is widely known among colleagues as a leader in sensible and targeted digital learning. In 2014, along with 11 other superintendents, he contributed to the Obama administration’s National Education Technology Plan and was part of a consortium of exemplary superintendents invited to the White House to launch the Future-Ready initiative.
Pendergrast is a resident of Mendham, NJ.