Wanted: Principal for Morristown High School…and maybe a few more Chromebooks

morristown high school
Morristown High School gets good SAT grades on the New Jersey School Report Card, compiled by NJ Spotlight. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Are you a “visionary educational leader who believes all students can succeed”?

And are you willing to incorporate that belief into “all aspects of the school climate and culture”?

If so, the Morris School District wants to chat. You could be the next principal of Morristown High School.

The district has started advertising for a replacement for Ethel Minchello, who came out of retirement last year to serve as interim principal when Linda Murphy was reassigned.  

Interim Principal Ethel Minchello tells Morristown High School graduating seniors to cherish the community values that nurtured them. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
PINCH-HITTING: Morristown High School Interim Principal Ethel Minchello at the 2013 commencement. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By state law, Ethel cannot continue in her temporary role beyond this school year, explained district Superintendent Thomas Ficarra after Monday night’s school board meeting.

The district is offering “a competitive salary and benefits” to the interim’s successor, according to an ad running in The Star-Ledger and on JobFinder.com.

Ethel was brought in at $153,822.

Whoever succeeds her will take the reins of a diverse, 1,600-student school that recently got an “A” grade from Inside Jersey magazine and high marks from New Jersey Monthly and Newsweek, too.

“Recognized among New Jersey’s top performing high schools, Morristown High School fosters a community in which learning is meaningful, challenging and lifelong,” states the ad.

Indeed, the valedictorian and salutatorian of the last graduating class each recorded perfect SAT scores and were accepted to Stanford University.

Innovative offerings like the Classics Academy, a classical immersion program for juniors and seniors; the Sol Lewitt-inspired team-building project for freshmen; robust athletic, music and drama programs; and a thriving broadcasting department and radio station help make MHS a vibrant place.

There are challenges as well. The district stepped up anti-bullying measures after a freshman’s suicide in March 2012. Death threats and bomb scares, which threatened to become an epidemic across New Jersey campuses last year, also caused disruptions here.

Ideally, the district would like to start breaking in a new principal in March 2014, so he or she can work alongside Ethel for a few months to achieve a smooth transition, said the Superintendent.

Among other things, the top candidate will need a New Jersey principal certification, a proven track record as a school administrator, a “collaborative leadership style,” excellent technology and communication skills and the “ability to work effectively in a culturally and economically diverse district,” according to the ad.

If this describes you, the district invites you to send an application and relevant documents to: www.applitrack.com/msdk12/onlineapp.


In other business, Superintendent Ficarra said the 2013-14 school year started without a hitch. The Frelinghuysen Middle School boasts five new classrooms, built in just 10 weeks this summer.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said.

tom ficarra
Dr. Thomas Ficarra, Morris District superintendent, pictured in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Another expansion involves technology. In a pilot program last year, 7th-graders were given iPads.

This fall, 7th- 8th- and 9th graders are receiving laptops instead of tablets. The Google Chromebook machines cost less than iPads and include keyboards.

The purchases are funded by tuition paid by sending districts of non-Morris District residents who choose to enroll their children in schools here.

It’s an exclusive club, numbering about 80 kids (mostly, sons and daughters of teachers in the district); the Morris District gets approximately $12,000 in tuition for each of them, the Superintendent said.

This new hardware is meant to prepare students for online PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests that will assess English and math proficiency beginning in 2015, the Superintendent continued.

The district also aims to churn out more computer-literate graduates with skills to “sort good- from bogus information” on the Internet.

“Now, it’s not just about reading and writing and ‘rithmetic,” Superintendent Ficarra said. “It’s about using the Internet efficiently to achieve your goals.”

morristown high school
Morristown High School gets good SAT grades on the New Jersey School Report Card, compiled by NJ Spotlight. File photo by Kevin Coughlin











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