By Patrice Nkrumah, Chicago Crusader
Kenwood Academy Principal Dr. Gregory Jones was named a 2018 Golden Apple Leadership Award Finalist at the South Side high school on April 4. The Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award honors exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership.
Jones has been the leader of the Hyde Park school for a decade. His students have received a record amount of college scholarship monies.
A strong proponent of preparing his students for college, Jones’ tenure as principal has seen Kenwood ascend in test scores and college acceptance. Always one of the stronger CPS schools, Kenwood faced a decline in the early part of the millennium. Alumni and parents grew concerned.
Jones imposed stricter requirements on admissions policies and brought with him a staff of dedicated employees that he credits for the jump. “I work with a group of talented people and the students here feed off of our enthusiasm. It’s a team effort,” Jones said.
He was announced as a contender for the award in February. Four years ago, former Lindblom Math & Science Academy Principal Alan Mather won the award. He was present for Jones’ announcement.
“It’s a prestigious award and something Gregory will never forget,” Mather said. “It’s an honor to even be nominated as there are so many great candidates.”
Jones was surprised by Wednesday’s announcement and joked about how his students, staff and even his wife had tricked him. One who doesn’t like wearing ties a lot, he said he thought it was strange when his assistant principal Ms. Calloway, and his wife, kept asking him to wear a tie earlier in the day.
“I found it strange that my wife asked me how she looked early this morning and I told her she was fine because I thought she was just going to work,” he began. “Then when I got to school I saw all the cheerleaders dressed in their uniforms and the concert choir dressed and I was wondering what in the world was going on.”
Kenwood Academy has a student population just under 1,800. It serves students from grades 7-12. In addition to being an academic success, Kenwood’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams have seen great improvement during Jones’ tenure.
Jones has been a highly sought after principal for years now and many believe his time at Kenwood may be coming to an end soon. Like Mather, who left Lindblom three years ago, most top CPS principals are given jobs downtown as administrators or made district heads. Jones and new CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson are good friends and several sources say there could be a place for Jones somewhere in Jackson’s administration.
Jones beat out several other top candidates in the metropolitan area, including Jose Torres from Illinois Math and Science Academy, Stacy Stewart of Belmont-Cragin and Kathryn Baal of Loyola Academy to be one of the finalists of this year’s award.
In addition to Jones six other principals/educational leaders received the 2018 Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award Finalist recognition.
“This year’s award finalists, selected through an anonymous process, represent accomplished educators who are embracing very complex assignments to enrich and advance the lives of students,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple president and CEO. “These awards shine a bright light on the incredible work happening in our schools. On behalf of Golden Apple, we applaud the teacher and school leader finalists for their initiative, innovation, dedication and perseverance.”