By: Daniel del Ben
Morris School District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast has recently been awarded the Morris County Superintendent of the Year title by the Morris County Association of School Administrators (MCASA).
Being honored with this title, Pendergrast is now running for Northern Region Superintendent of the Year which will be awarded this fall by the NJ Association of School Administrators. The three regional winners will then be made eligible for the title of National Superintendent of the Year awarded by the American Association of School Administrators.
“I am profoundly grateful every day for the meaningful work I participate in as superintendent of the Morris School District,” said Pendergrast. “This is a very special community fully engaged and deeply committed to excellence in education and upholding the unique legacy of its public schools. Our students are ascending, our community is thriving, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Pendergrast has had a 31-year career in education and held positions as director of staff development, district social studies supervisor, guidance counselor, high school history teacher, and varsity basketball coach before becoming the Morris County School District Superintendent on June 1, 2015.
Since then, the Morris School District has AP participation and performance at Morristown High School has seen increased AP participation. At the Frelinghuysen Middle School, Pendergrast is responsible for revising the FMS English Language Arts curriculum which led to higher standardized test scores. Students in all grades there have outpaced the state average for the past two years, and the amount of students exceeding have since tripled. Pendergrast has also worked to expand extracurricular activities in both the middle in high schools with new STEM programs in the arts.
“As a veteran superintendent, Mackey is quick to share his knowledge and expertise with his colleagues throughout the county,” said Superintendent of the Morris County Vocational School District and MCASA President Scott Moffitt. “In doing so he is always able to communicate effectively and confidently while also being able to lighten the mood no matter how stressful the topic may be. Mackey will be an excellent ambassador for Morris County.”
Pendergrast has also secured a precedented multi-million dollar grant from the New Jersey Department of Education to expand Morris’s preschools. “When we hired Mackey, we knew we were getting an innovative educational leader who would be thoroughly invested in the success of each child in our district,” stated Vice President of the Morris School District Board of Education Nancy Bangiola. “But the scope and range of his innovation and the demonstrative effect that has had on student achievement have been far greater than we ever imagined. He has consistently raised the bar district wide, and each time, the bar has been met.”
When asked on what the future holds for his superintendent position, Pendergrast said, “We are always refining, always gaining insight into what we can do better. For that to happen in a way that’s authentic and has lasting impact, we need to continue building strong and healthy relationships, both internally and externally. We strive to be a learning organization, and the partnership with our community is absolutely essential to our ongoing success. I’m looking forward to enhancing that partnership through various community relations initiatives that foster two-way communication, understanding, and trust. Ultimately, I want to ensure that our entire system is a responsive one, where people feel they have a voice and that their voice is heard.”