Tech Summit Part of Future Regional Strategy

High School Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast plans to make 'big strides' in the development of curriculum and integration of technology.

Nobody, especially the West Morris Regional High School District, should be satisfied with current standards.

That's the charge Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast made at the school board's regular meeting Monday night.

Pendergrast began his presentation on strategic development by posing the questions, "Where would Ford Motor Company be if they stayed with the Model-T? Or if IBM was satisfied with that electric typewriter? Or if Google was satisfied?"

Everybody should be striving for better results, especially when it comes to the children, Pendergrast said.

"This board will be faced, certainly within the next few months and next year, with very critical decisions to make," he said. "At some point we're going to have to pull the lever, we're going to have to take some chances so that we keep progressing.

"We have to shift our angle and not build incrementally but make big strides in a dynamic process. We need to look where we can inject in a category that will help us improve by leaps and bounds."

Pendergrast's plan calls for the Igniting Innovators in a World of Mobilism: Will Our Students be Able to Compete in the Interconnected Global and Digital Age? to take place at Mendham High School on March 21.

"We should have the best minds in the world from our community coming together and the community coming together to explore that together, and that's our plan," Pendergrast said. "We've got a great lineup forming; CEOs of great companies coming in, people in our community who are involved in technology and education, former students on that panel as well. We can explore this as a community at the highest and deepest level. That event which will have pre-surveys and during and after–we're going to take that data and synthesize it. The board strategic development committee will play an important role."

Pendergrast said the hope is to come out of the summit with data, surveys, feedback and insights from experts to adjust the regional's curriculum.

After that, Pendergrast said, there will be "a curriculum and program summit, bringing together our teachers and administrators and some community to set strategic objectives for this district to move on. Those strategic objectives, I'm envisioning as we refine them coming before the board sometime in the summer, probably August, to be voted on. The whole goal here is a community getting involved deeply in a topic so that we can answer that question."

It will take about a year to develop, write, create and financially support the new curriculum, Pendergrast said. The changes won't take place until September 2014. However, he said that they "might be able to implement other aspects of it earlier."

"We've had this program for 15 years," he said. "That has really served as the spine and the backbone of this district; it sets our standards, it creates rigor, a pathway, a philosophy...it's progessive and always forward-thinking. It should give us the confidence to take some chances."

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