908-879-6404 x 1283
FOR RELEASE: March 5, 2009
WMRHSD TEACHERS GO BACK TO THE CLASSROOM FOR PROFESSIONAL
• Brown, Columbia and Yale University Professors Demonstrated Master Teaching Techniques
During February 17 Program.
• Next University Program on October 13 – Media Invited.
CHESTER, NJ -- Proving that learning is a life-long avocation, more than 240 West Morris Regional High
School District (WMRHSD) teachers spent February 17 as students. Throughout the day they sat in the
same seats normally occupied by West Morris Central High School students to listen to lectures, watch
technical demonstrations, problem-solve educational issues and participate in workshops.
Each year the WMRHSD hosts three Professional Development Days for its teachers. They are just
one aspect of an active, comprehensive professional development program designed to improve and expand
teacher knowledge and mastery of teaching practices. In addition to Professional Development Days, the
program also features mentoring, professional learning and academic research teams, department-specific
initiatives and other strategies and tactics all designed to improve student performance and wellness.
According to WMRHSD Professional Development Director Mackey Pendergrast, “Professional
Development Days help West Morris Central and West Morris Mendham High School teachers keep current
in education philosophies and scientifically based instructional methodologies without incurring the added
district expense of taking outside classes.” He noted that in addition to presentations and workshops, a
typical Professional Development Day agenda includes information on changes in State laws and district
policies, curriculum development and opportunities for teachers to explore educational issues and pedagogy
in a collaborative setting.
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WMRHSD Professional Development Days/ p.2.
The majority of topics and workshops are presented by in-house staff members. However, thanks to
grant funding, the February 17 program featured three presentations from professors from Brown, Columbia
and Yale Universities. The presenters provided unique opportunities for WMRHSD teachers to deepen their
content knowledge and explore interdisciplinary connections on various issues and topics that are emerging
at the scientific and technical forefront. Based on anonymous surveys, the three presentations were well
received. One district teacher noted that they were “inspiring and amazing. I felt so excited to come away
with new examples and case studies to use in my class.” The WMRHSD will continue to assess and measure
The WMRHSD also plans to feature university presentations in future Professional Development Day
agendas. Some of the same professors may be invited back to address parents in special workshops, as part
of the district’s ongoing efforts to expand its community outreach. Again, all outside speakers will be
compensated using grant funding (not local property tax) received for this purpose.
The February 17 program opened with Dr. Craig Wright, a Professor of Music at Yale University.
Wright used Mozart’s life and compositions to further teacher understanding of the genesis and nurturing of
genius. He weaved into a chronology of Mozart’s work and influences recent advances in neurobiology.
Wright’s presentation was particularly timely as the WMRHSD is considering offering more academic
opportunities for its most advanced students.
Brown University Professor Dr. Jacob Appel presented a seminar on bioethics, the new field of study
centered on the ethical controversies brought about by recent advances in biology and medicine. Academic
studies and courses on bioethics are becoming more pronounced on college campuses as science, medical
and law students grapple with the ethical implications of such issues as mandatory vaccinations, euthanasia
and genetic testing.
Dr. Helfand from Columbia University presented a lecture on global warning. He is a winner of that
university’s Presidential Teaching Award and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia
Graduates. He is also an early proponent for high school technical and scientific literacy and was
instrumental in starting Columbia’s “Frontiers of Science” program to recruit top students into the school’s
science program. Working from a scientific model, Dr. Helfand explored the likely impact of climate change
on current and future generations and what can reasonably be done to regulate the earth’s climate.
Teachers also listened to district teacher-led presentations on assessment strategies, smart board and
PowerPoint technologies, integrating blogging and video streaming into the curriculum, creating more
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WMRHSD Professional Development Days/ p.3
powerful teacher web pages, differentiation strategies, study skills and developing resilient students. They
also learned about IB program developments and the WMRHSD’s updated harassment and medication
Additionally, the guidance department explored technology programs related to the college
application process, including online SAT and ACT preparation guides. Finally, the Modern and Classical
Language department continued to develop curriculum as part of the five-year curriculum cycle.
Media interested in attending the October13 Professional Development Day should contact Barbara
McClurken at 908-879-6404 x 1283 to receive the agenda when finalized.
The West Morris Regional High School District (WMRHSD) includes West Morris Central High
School in Chester, NJ, and the West Morris Mendham High School in Mendham, NJ. More than 2,500
students are in the district encompassing Chester Borough, Chester Township, Mendham Borough,
Mendham Township and Washington Township.
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