In praise of Greg Jones

To the Editor:

This week our community learned that Greg Jones is moving on to bigger and better things to serve young people of the Chicago area. I am not sure how many Hyde Parkers are aware of the dynamic leadership he provided at our neighborhood high school, Kenwood Academy. I have been intimately connected to Kenwood for almost 40 years as a parent, community representative on the local school council, employer of its students, and husband of a long time teacher. I have seen the school go through its ups and downs and all kinds of drama. Even in its down years it has always been a high quality school that has served many south side teens at a high level. A high percentage of its graduates have moved on to college with many going to top tier schools and careers. The list of Kenwood alums is stellar.

I have seen some very good principals at Kenwood. But, I have never seen someone come into Kenwood or any other high school, and take it from a very good high school to a great high school like Greg Jones has. You can read about him in national media such as the New York Times and watch him receive a Golden Apple award later this month on Channel 11, but I am not sure if you will appreciate how he worked his magic. Being an effective leader means that you have to create a vision that all stakeholders can buy into and then build trust with all of them. Greg was able to do that. Kenwood is not an easy place to run. There are many competing forces that can easily overwhelm an average to good leader.

We should all appreciate the great work that was done at Kenwood under his leadership. It will be up to the Local School Council to select a new leader that can continue the upward trajectory that the school is on. It is also up to all of Hyde Park to get engaged at Kenwood and all of our public schools to build a public school system that we can all be proud of and be willing to participate in.

Bill Gerstein