A big day for Manning in Morristown. No, not that Manning

This is a big week for the Manning family.  And we don’t mean that football guy from Denver.

Mark Manning was announced as the new principal of Morristown High School at Monday’s school board meeting.

Mark Manning, the new principal of Morristown High School. Photo courtesy of the Morris School District

Mark Manning, the new principal of Morristown High School. Photo courtesy of the Morris School District

The promotion of the Frelinghuysen Middle School principal to the $160,000 top job at the high school is effective on Feb. 1, 2014.

Since December, he has served as interim principal at MHS, pinch-hitting for another temporary principal, Ethel Minchello. She left to have surgery, and her resignation takes effect on Jan. 31.

Schools Superintendent Thomas Ficarra made the choice from four finalists recommended by a committee of board members, administrators, parents and teachers.  Those names were winnowed from 49 applicants, according to Martha Weber of the district’s human resources department.

The Superintendent described Mark Manning as  a “very thoughtful and reflective thinker” who collaborates well and has a friendly demeanor appreciated by students.

“You walk with him in school and it’s amazing how many kids he knows by name,” said the Superintendent.

Mark holds degrees from Boston College and Rutgers. He came to the Morris School District in 2001 as a high school social studies teacher, and became supervisor of instruction in 2005.

He and his wife live in Morristown. Their daughter graduated from MHS in 2012, and two sons attend the high school, the Superintendent said. The administration was impressed by Mark’s performance during two-and-a-half years leading the middle school.

“He flawlessly ran a huge operation of 1,100 students. We were extremely pleased with his performance there,” said Superintendent Ficarra.

Peter Gallerstein,  vice president of the Morris School District board, said he’s known Mark Manning for a long time, “and I’ve only had positive experiences.”

Morris District officials pitch in at dinner for students and parents. From left: Business Administrator Christine Kelly, Interim Morristown High Principal Mark Manning, Martha Weber from Human Resources Supervisor of Instruction Edward Cohen, and MHS Vice Principal Michael Bruchac. Photo courtesy of the Morris School District.

New MHS Principal Mark Manning, center, shown here volunteering recently at a local soup kitchen. Photo courtesy of the Morris School District.

The Frelinghuysen Middle School will continue being led on an interim basis by David Thompson, an instructional supervisor, while a search is conducted for a permanent appointment, the Superintendent said.

Ethel Minchello came out of retirement in 2012 to run the high school after Principal Linda Murphy was reassigned.

The new principal won’t have the luxury of a long honeymoon on the job.  Mark assumes his full title at a time when some students have been moved to tears by this month’s dismissal of a popular staff member who helped run the school’s FM radio station and TV studio for a decade.

Eliminating Steve Woodruff’s position as an audio/visual technician will save the district $81,000 without affecting any programs, Superintendent Ficarra said.

The same company that provides communications services for district school buses will fix anything that breaks at WJSV-FM swiftly, for $90 an hour, he said, noting that an equipment problem kept the station off the air for three months last fall.

A parade of students and parents defended Steve Woodruff at the board meeting, lauding his technical expertise and the encouragement he gave to students whose confidence blossomed at the station.

The Superintendent promised that the new principal and broadcasting teacher Michael Butler will smooth out any “hiccups” that occur as a result of the reorganization.

Stay tuned for more on that story.






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