By Giavonni Nickson
Gary Community School Corp has completely revitalized school leadership with almost all new principals hired for the upcoming school year that begins August 8. Some of the principals have been with the district for years, while others are new. Even with the mass hiring there are still vacancies in the district. The district is still looking to hire a director of secondary studies.
Deputy Superintendent and chief academic officer Nakia Douglas expects the placement of the new administrators to help drive academic success. Each administrator was strategically located based on their skill set.
The new principals include:
- Othiniel Mahone, West Side Leadership Academy
- Delincia Smith, Gary Area Career Center
- Kwalfe Bradley, Bailly Middle School
- Antoinette Dixon, Gary Middle School
- Demetrius Bunch, Banneker at Marquette
- Linda Rugg, Beveridge Elementary
- Brandi Herrod, Glen Park Academy
- Sharmayne McKinley, McCullough Academy
- Linda Gholston, Williams Elementary
- Angela Grayson, Bethune Early Childhood Development Center.
Former Bethune Principal Karon Ramsey has been named director of elementary education. Sarah Givens is the director of Title I instruction.
The changes in leadership for the new school year follow a trend of consistent change since the state hired an emergency management team to run the district in 2017, due to fiscal and academic problems. Emergency Manager Peter Morikis replaced Peggy Hinckley last November. Several administrators hired by Hinckley in 2017 and 2018 have been replaced by Morikis.
Chief Financial Officer Leonard Moody resigned earlier this year and is now business manager for the Harvey Public Schools in Illinois. Former West Side principal and Chief Academic Officer Terrance Little is no longer with the district. Nakia Douglas, hired by Hinckley, is doubling as chief academic officer.
Douglas spent time this summer overseeing leadership training for the new principals, in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Education Office of School Improvement, and Purdue University Northwest.
Morikis told the state Distressed Unit Appeal Board recently that Douglas has done a great job recruiting administrators.
Beveridge ranks as Gary’s most under-performing school. Linda Rugg, Beveridge’s new leader, has 19 years of experience in the Duneland School Corporation.
Also new to the administrative team is former Griffith Middle School Principal Delincia Smith, who replaced Michelle Meadows at the Gary Area Career Center. Smith is a former business teacher at Griffith and at East Chicago Central High School.
Meadows is now vice president of career and technical education at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer.
In June, the district began the process to fire Bailly Elementary Principal Carlita Royal and three teachers, in a highly-publicized incident involving an autistic student who received a school award as its “most annoying” male student.
Gary native Othiniel Mahone comes to West Side after serving as assistant principal at John Marshall High School in Chicago. He replaces Marcus Muhammad, who is assistant principal at Bailly Middle School. Mahone is a Wirt High School graduate.
Students and parents are hopeful that the change in leadership is a sign that academic success will improve in schools across the city.
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.