Upper Darby High School

's Christopher Dormer has been selected as Pennsylvania's 2008 Assistant Principal of the Year.

He will represent the state in February at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Convention and Exposition in San Antonio.

Dormer came to Upper Darby as a biology teacher in 2000 and later served as athletic director. He became assistant principal in July 2005 and is one of four assistant principals overseeing a school of about 4,000 students from 64 countries. Dormer is pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership.

Children's book author Dan Gutman of Haddonfield, N.J., gave two presentations to students last month at

Glenwood Elementary School

in Middletown.

The librarian, teachers and students prepared for his visit by reading several of his more than 70 books.

Gutman shared his "rejection folder" with students in grades three to five and told them how the first book in his popular Baseball Card Adventures was first turned down by 10 publishing houses.

For the kindergarten-to-second-grade group, Gutman drew the main character in his My Weird School series. In both presentations, he shared some family photos in his slide show, "A Day in the Life of an Author."

As part of their first e-Mission simulation,

Ridley High School

ninth graders recently worked to evacuate residents of the Montserrat island, where a volcano was erupting and a hurricane was approaching.

The problem-based lesson was delivered into the classroom via videoconferencing equipment, which the district received earlier this year through a state grant.

In the e-Mission lessons, students communicate and provide data to an official at Mission Control from the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

Sue Iannacci, a Ridley administrator who works with teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms, organized the simulation and said the district planned to use the new equipment to participate in conferences with other schools, teacher seminars and virtual field trips.

The district recently ran a videoconference seminar for teachers that focused on interactive collaborations with other high schools, and several teachers have been in the beginning stages of planning one, Iannacci said.

To prep for the Montserrat lesson, social studies teacher Dave Summa taught students about geography and economics of the island.  In math and science classes, Jennifer Dugan and Molly Reedy taught students how to plot the path and speed of hurricanes and the rate of volcanic tectonic rock fall. Language arts teacher Amy Covert had students read and analyze information about hurricanes and volcanoes.

The

Widener University

Observatory will hold a special Mars Night from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow in Kirkbride Hall on Widener's Chester campus, One University Place.

The Red Planet is closest to Earth in December this year, and several of Mars' features might be visible on its surface, including dark markings and polar caps. Weather permitting, stargazers will have the opportunity to view Mars through 12-inch and 16-inch computer-driven Meade Cassegrain reflecting telescopes.

Viewing sessions will be from 6 to 7 p.m., 7 to 8 p.m., and 8 to 9 p.m.

To register, visit

and select "Weekly Sessions - Mondays" from the menu.  Select "Sign Up for a Monday Twilight Session," then fill out the brief form. Under "Date of Reservation," select Dec. 17, and choose one of the three available times on that date.

Those without Internet access may call 610-499-4003 for reservations. Admission is free, but sessions can fill.

- Ed Mahon