A ‘Principal of the Year’ now at helm at Montgomery High

Anne Marie Weber receives central New Jersey award.

By: Steve Rauscher
   MONTGOMERY — In the latest of a long list of accolades acquired by the township school district, high school Principal Anne Marie Weber was recently awarded Central New Jersey’s Principal of the Year honors by the New Jersey Principal and Supervisors Association.
   Ms. Weber is just finishing her 14th year at the high school. During that time, the school has doubled in size and become one of the top-ranked high schools in the state. It was awarded national Blue Ribbon status in 1993, and was ranked number two among all high schools in the state by New Jersey Monthly magazine in 2000.
   "When Ms. Weber started as principal, Montgomery High was a good school," Superintendent Stuart Schnur said in a statement. "She has helped make it an outstanding one."
   Ms. Weber said she had achieved success by emphasizing and recognizing the performance of each student and fostering links with the community.
   "We want to make sure that each student reaches his or her potential," she said. "And that’s not just so many words at this school."
   The curriculum is designed to challenge each student at his or her level, she said. The school has a full complement of advanced placement and honors programs, but students are grouped heterogenously wherever possible.
   "We acknowledge not only high achievement, but improvement as well," she said. "It’s not just about the student that gets the straight A’s, but the student who goes from C’s to B’s."
   The proof of the method’s effectiveness is the outstanding performance of nearly all Montgomery students on both statewide assessment tests and the SATs.
   A former English teacher, Ms. Weber has placed a special premium on building vocabulary. Each morning, students are given a new "Word of the Day" via the morning announcements. Media students have seized on the initiative, introducing each word as it relates to a scene from a popular film. Since the program’s inception, SAT verbal scores have improved an average of 26 points.
   Ms. Weber also has worked hard to build support for the school in the community, support she said is indispensable. As a member of the local Rotary Club, she has been instrumental in securing numerous grants and scholarship funds from that organization. The high school also has benefited from grants from corporations such as Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.
   "We enjoy a great deal of community support, and that’s what sets good schools apart," she said. "It helps us provide the extras for our students."
   Ms. Weber gives much of the credit for the school’s success to her staff.
   "My staff is top-notch," she said. "People like being here, and the students feel that."
   As one of three Central Jersey Principal of the Year awardees, Ms. Weber will receive a $10,000 stipend from federal education funds to be applied to school-based improvements or educational development, and a $1,000 unrestricted grant from the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence.
   Ms. Weber said she has no plans to move up the educational ladder at the moment. In fact, she’s looking forward to opening the new Montgomery High School for the 2004-2005 school year.
   "I am very proud. This has been an exceptional time in my professional career," she said. "Being the leader of Montgomery High School has been an honor."