Dear Parents/Guardians and Students of the Morris Hills High School Community,
Each summer, as August presents itself, I marvel at the rapidity of time. The especially tumultuous nature of this particular summer on the world stage prompts me to reflect on just how much reasonable people need each other to not only understand a complex world but to contribute to making it better – for our children, our communities, and ourselves. As your Principal, I consider it to be a privileged opportunity to welcome you back to a new school year and to join you once again on the playing field of partnership as we come together and commit to a year when excellence prevails, when bold anticipation of success becomes solid reality, when goodness, kindness, and peace forever emerge, and when personal and professional connections fuel extraordinary outcomes for us all. Those are among my greatest hopes as we begin anew. As the curtain goes up on the 2016 – 2017 school year, I am deeply gratified to give you a forward look into the year we will spend together.
Permit me to first share with you the school-wide theme I am requesting each of us to celebrate as we re-focus our lens on 2016 – 2017. As you know, in the last few years of serving as your Principal, I have suggested that we connect our school theme to our summer read in the interest of both continuity and focus. This year, the district has chosen to direct the summer reading initiative to the study of literature of the Holocaust, giving students a cross-curricular experience through their reading choice of one of six selections, each of which defines and spotlights the very nature of the human spirit, in all of its complex dimensions. To support the vision behind the initiative, I propose the following school-wide theme for the 2016 – 2017 school year: “United in the Embrace of the Human Spirit.” I do so with two thoughts in mind. First, it is my primary hope that our entire school community will come together, united in a common cause, to not only better understand the power of the human spirit but also to acknowledge the part we all play – professionals, parents, and students – in advancing a sense of responsibility to keep the human spirit central to our interactions, our conversations, and our personal understandings of the part it plays in our past, our present, and our future. As students will share their reading responses with various Holocaust survivors, liberators, and POWs on Thursday, October 6th, so too will the community-at-large have its own special evening program this year, to participate in this process as well. May the human spirit unite and guide us all during the coming school year.
My second reason for promoting linkage to the summer read transcends an attempt at continuity; in fact, it is very personal to our school. I deeply believe Morris Hills High School is a special place. Its spirit is grounded in rich tradition, in mutual respect, in high expectations, in well-defined principles, and in a deep sense of gratitude for the common ground we share here. Those are the kinds of variables that keep us connected. At the core is a force that builds bridges and welcomes all into the fold. At the core is an unrelenting belief that each of us can change the world, one effort at a time. When the human spirit orchestrates such effort, there are no walls to divide us and no challenges we cannot master. So I challenge each of us to reach deep, and to put into play in 2016 – 2017 the kind of spirit that forever defines the greater angels of our nature. Let us embrace the human spirit and fly high together, following a summer of both violence and chaos, and find a sense of renewed belief in our country, our people, and the spirit that binds and elevates us all.
This September, Morris Hills High School will welcome a group of new teachers and counselors to our professional staff, following an intense interview process. Each comes with the highest of recommendations and we remain eager to begin a professional journey with them all. As always, I encourage a sense of sincere connection with our teachers and hope your effort in the classroom, as students, and your attendance, as parents, at our fall Back to School Night of September 21st, will begin to build strong bridges.
As always, summer here at Morris Hills has been busy, with a focus on many professional initiatives and building/campus enhancements. To mention just a sampling, we look forward to the implementation of a new Instructional Coaching Model, focusing on collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data to identify student needs, assess changes in classroom instructional practice, and measure student progress. A district Academic Advisory Council shall be implemented to ensure excellence and continuous improvement of existing instructional programs. We continue to enhance our efforts in becoming a Google school, as launched last year. Summer training for teachers has continued with much enthusiasm. Our summer read shall now bring parents into the process through a special evening program on October 6th. Our building continues to receive attention through ongoing upgrades – a new knight statue at our entrance, water bottle filling stations made possible through the effort of the Home and School Association, new furniture for our TV studio, windscreens and banners around campus, new umbrellas for the picnic tables, and new benches at our entry, just to name a few. We take pride in our facility and work to keep it in top-notch condition. As we look around, we feel ready to open and ready to re-focus our energies on 2016 – 2017, anticipating a stellar year, with your support.
I close this correspondence by sharing with you a hope to come together in unity and embrace a human spirit that speaks to all that is good and all that is important in the making of an exemplary school community. May we all do our part in translating a vision that fuels the best in us all.
In the Spirit of Partnership,
Todd M. Toriello