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James Hickey

Dean of Academic Affairs|The Pennington School


Currently the Dean of Academic Affairs at The Pennington School, Dr. James Hickey was Principal of Old Bridge High School in Matawan, New Jersey, and oversaw one of the largest public high schools in the state. Named New Jersey Principal of the Year in 2009, Dr. Hickey spearheaded many important changes at Old Bridge. The sprawling high school includes over 3,100 students, 350 staff members, 13 technology classrooms, a planetarium, and a sports complex with 60 athletic teams, all on an operating budget of some $30 million.

Starting his tenure at Old Bridge High School in 2003 as Vice Principal, Dr. Hickey became Principal that same year.  One of his major responsibilities involved managing a $26.8 million capital construction program. This project entailed the expansion of the school, with the merging of two high school facilities into a single campus.

In addition, Dr. Hickey oversaw the revision of more than 150 curricula, tightened academic standards, improved instruction, and substantially expanded the use of higher-order questions on comprehensive exams. Dr. Hickey also implemented an interdisciplinary program in the Humanities for the gifted and talented to enhance writing skills.

Dr. Hickey's initiatives substantially increased student performance at Old Bridge High School. In terms of language arts literacy, achievement test scores increased from 84 percent to 95 percent. In mathematics, scores increased from 68 percent to 83 percent.

Under Dr. Hickey's leadership, the culture of Old Bridge High School was transformed and notable achievements came as a result. Out of school suspension plummeted 56 percent, student tardiness dropped 62 percent, and the graduation rate rose to an all-time high of 99.2 percent. Additionally, more than 90 percent of graduating seniors pursue a college education.

Including his time at Old Bridge, Dr. Hickey holds over 15 years of experience in educational administration. He received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy from Fordham University in New York City.

As both a professional staff member and a director on a nonprofit governing board, Dr. Hickey has more than 10 years of experience formulating and implementing strategic plans. These strategic plans include leadership roles managing marketing, capital campaigns, annual appeals, major capital projects, soliciting leadership gifts through planned giving, and cultivating alumni engagement.

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