Across the U.S., public schools and their communities celebrated the enormous impact of public education during Public Schools Week (February 24-28).  Nine out of 10 students attend a public school—more than 50 million nationwide—regardless of ability, race, wealth, language, religion or country of origin, to prepare them for future endeavors.  Public schools here in the Garden State are especially strong; NJ took the top spot this year in the national ranking of state education systems issued by the Education Week Research Center.

The Morris School District is proud of its history of providing the highest quality public education to a diverse community for nearly 50 years.  Today, the district remains a “community of communities”—the core mission of which is to ensure that all students have access to exceptional learning experiences and positive, empowering relationships so that each one will ascend.

The MSD serves more than 5200 students in ten schools, including a preschool for 3 and 4 year olds.  A sizable grant from the NJ Department of Education has enabled the preschool to expand its reach through a partnership with local providers; next year, at least 500 students in district boundaries will receive a free preschool education.

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Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast, who was named the 2020 Superintendent of the Year for the State of NJ, said:  “The imperatives—social, moral, economic—of a universal public education are indisputable; equitable, accessible public schooling is the very bedrock of a democratic society.  But I think our district has shown how much farther we can take that fundamental promise when the entire community supports and invests in its schools the way the Morris School District community has.”

A recent poll by the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) shows that voters across the board are oriented toward public education.  64% of the 1000 respondents thought funding for public schools should be increased, and, among those, 83% supported public funding, even if it means they would pay more in taxes.  72% of respondents were favorable to the public schools in their community.

MSD parent Jennifer Avers has been a lifelong supporter of public education and notes the broad range of learning opportunities and resources available to students in the district:  “Our daughter is academically achieving and also benefits from social-emotional learning units with her peers, drug awareness lessons with our school resource officer, arts and music experiences, and lively debates about current affairs in social studies. High-quality public education offers students all of this—the resources and spaces to feel safe, capable, and creative, to flourish, and to feel connected to a larger and richly diverse community.”

Highlights of the Morris School District

Preschool 

  • Received an unprecedented grant from the NJ Department of Education ($6.6 million for 2020-21, the largest in Morris County) to offer FREE PRESCHOOL to more than 500 children 

  • Full-day academic, social, and emotional readiness program for 3- and 4-year-olds

  • All teachers are fully certified, most with dual certification in both general and special education

  • Busing provided, full-time nurse on premises, and breakfast/lunch offered

  • Large gym with rock climbing wall, fenced-in playground with tricycle track, and an adjacent urban farm

  • Leading a collaborative consortium of area preschool partners (including Head Start, YMCA, and Neighborhood House) to deliver the grant-funded program

Elementary 

  • 3 K-2 schools, 3 3-5 schools, and one multiage magnet school serving grades K-5

  • Full-day kindergarten, with before- and aftercare offered through our Community School

  • Dedicated science specialists at each school

  • Instrumental music (concert band, jazz band, and orchestra) beginning in grade 4

  • Enrichment classes and afterschool clubs

  • Integrated STEM curriculum and developmentally appropriate technology education in all grades 

  • Outdoor classrooms, fitness trails, learning laboratories, mindfulness rooms, and new playgrounds—thanks to a variety of community partnerships and MEF grant programs

  • 2019 standardized assessment results (NJSLA) show our students are performing consistently above the state average.  Non-economically disadvantaged 5th graders scored 3rd highest in ELA/Math combined

Frelinghuysen Middle School

  • Has earned state and national attention for exceptional growth in student achievement, with all demographic subgroups showing dramatic improvement on the state standardized assessment (NJSLA)—in some cases tripling scores over 4 years 

  • Almost 700 students participate in the FMS music program (band, orchestra, chorus); students have weekly small-group lessons as well as full ensemble classes.  Multiple performance opportunities available, including jazz band, wind symphony, select choir, regional honor groups, and pit orchestras 

  • 2020 Future City Competition (STEM project-based competition):  1st place in NJ

  • 2020 General Knowledge Bowl (academic competition with area public and private schools at Newark Academy):  1st place 8th grade team (3 years running); 1st place 7th grade team 2018, 2019

  • 2019 National Technology Student Association Conference:  FMS 8th grader awarded 1st place for Promotional Marketing 

  • 2019 You Be the Chemist Challenge:  FMS 7th grader awarded 1st place in NJ

  • 2019 Morris County Teen Arts Festival:  Select Choir awarded 1st place in Morris County; Falcon Big Band (jazz) awarded 2nd place in Morris County

  • 2019 NJ Association for Jazz Educators Middle School Jazz Festival:  Outstanding Trumpet Section, Outstanding Trombone Section, 2 Outstanding Soloists, 2 Outstanding Performers

  • 2020 Girls Basketball County champs (3 years running); 5 County Championship sports teams in 2018-19; largest middle school athletic program in Morris County

Morristown High School

  • Prestigious, application-only STEM Academy with pathways in Biomedicine, Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Sustainability, Computer Science, Mathematics and General STEM

  • Humanities Academy—rooted in Stanford University-based Design Thinking approach to innovation, collaboration, and problem solving—prepares 21st-century leaders

  • 425 students took 918 AP exams, more than double the number since 2015

  • Greatest number of students in Morris County enrolled in BC Calculus and AP Physics C (highest level math and science courses)

  • 2019 NJ Science League:  #1 AP Chemistry team (#3 in the state), #1 Chemistry 1 team, #1 AP Environmental Science team

  • 2019 NJ Mathematics League:  #1 Math team

  • MHS senior qualified for 2019 U.S. Chemistry Olympiad National Competition

  • 2019 Rowan University Rocketry Competition: 1st place for Parachute Duration Division

  • 2019 Morris County Teen Arts Festival:  Gold medal winner (MHS senior)

  • 2020 Girls Swimming State Sectional champs (5 years running)

  • 7 students selected for 2020 North Jersey Area Band; 3 students selected for 2020 North Jersey Region Band

  • 2019 Rising Star Theatre Awards:  MHS Theatre earns 2nd most nominations in NJ; winner of Student Achievement Award in Graphic Design for Addams Family

  • 2019 Foxy Awards:  winner of Excellence in Educational Impact and Outreach Award for Prancer

  • 2019 Broadway World NJ Regional Theatre:  Best High School Theatre Production for Addams Family