By AARON GETTINGER
Dr. Gregory Jones, principal of Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., has announced his resignation effective Sept. 1 to take an administrative role at the Academy Group, an education and economic development nonprofit serving underprivileged youth.
“It has been a great honor to serve our stakeholders for the past six and a half years,” Jones said in the letter announcing his decision, released to the public on May 2. “I am humbled to have been afforded an opportunity to lead a historic institution and the best neighborhood high school.” Jones thanked the Kenwood community for their support, saying the school’s success “is due to the tireless efforts of school personnel, students, parents, partners, and community members.”
In an interview with the Herald, Jones said that the decision to move on from Kenwood Academy was driven by a desire for “something different” after over two decades with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Jones’ next role will be executive director of the Academy Group’s Chicago office. “The aim is to ensure that young people graduate, but, more importantly, that we will guarantee them a job post-graduation,” Jones said, saying the organization served students from fourth grade through college with the goal of getting more individuals from underserved communities in leadership and corporate positions.
Jones said the Academy Group recruited him for the position and that he will work alongside Shane Evans, former CEO of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute (UEI) and the Academy Group’s co-founder and managing partner. Evans co-founded the organization in 2017 with former UEI Chairman Timothy Knowles.
Having been Kenwood’s principal since 2012, Jones expressed pride in having started the position when the current senior class was beginning seventh grade. He had previously been assistant principal at Westinghouse College Prep High School, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd., from 2008 through 2012.
Jones began his career in education in 1997 at Dunbar High School, 3000 S. King Dr., as the girls basketball and volleyball coach. In addition, Jones became the accounting, computer technology and world studies teacher. He also served as the education to careers coordinator at Dunbar until 2007 when he became assistant principal at Marconi Elementary Community Academy, 230 N. Kolmar Ave.
When asked about the timing of his resignation, so soon after winning a leadership award from the Golden Apple foundation, Jones said that working in CPS has “been the best experience that I could imagine, both professionally but also in helping me develop as a human being.” He said, “I’m still serving Chicago students, particularly underserved communities.”
He called the Academy Group an extension of his current work and said, “I’m just excited about a new opportunity.”
Jones said he plans to continue living in Kenwood.
Jones said his successor should have “a good pulse on teaching and learning” and be able to academically and socially support every student. He called Hyde Park “a unique place … that really cares about its high school as well as the neighborhood elementary schools” and encouraged his successor to “be a good neighbor” by partnering with local businesses, residents and the University of Chicago.
The Kenwood Local School Council is set to discuss the first steps towards hiring a new principal at its meeting on Monday, May 7, at 6 p.m.
“I’m just thankful to have had the opportunity to serve the students here, the families and to have worked in collaboration with the community,” said Jones. “This is a unique opportunity in a very, very unique school in ways we sometimes take for granted.”
He expressed hope that more schools in Chicago will emerge like Kenwood.
“This is a shining light for public education, and more particularly neighborhood high schools,” Jones said.