By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Karen Calloway will begin her 18th year at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., this fall in her new role as the school’s principal. Calloway told the Herald that she wishes to continue Kenwood’s platform to provide its students with the skills and support they need as they prepare to take the next step in their academic careers.
The Kenwood Local School Council selected Calloway for her new role after the current principal Dr. Gregory Jones announced his resignation on May 2 to take on an administrative role at the Academy Group, a nonprofit education and economic development serving underprivileged youth.
“I have watched the school evolve under amazing principals during my time at Kenwood,” Calloway said. “My experience has given me the opportunity to learn about, and model some of the work and instruction of these incredible instructors. It’s been excellent training for my new role, one of the most rewarding experiences is getting to give back to the school and watch my students blossom, which has been the biggest motivation in my career.”
Calloway first joined the Kenwood faculty in 2001. During her tenure, she has assumed several roles: Professional School Counselor, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and Administrator of Student and Community Affairs.
While serving in these roles Calloway received several awards including the Drive Award Finalist, Suave Award Finalist 2005, and Suave Award winner 2006, WGN’s Someone You Should Know, Alpha Kappa Alpha Educator of the year 2011, and the 2012 Distinguished Educator by Lewis University. In 2016, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs recognized Calloway for “outstanding commitment in education” during February, black history month.
“I was about 18 years old when I was first introduced to the education field,” said Calloway.
During her post secondary education, Calloway participated in the University’s Project Upward Bound program, a college preparatory program which provides at-risk high school students who come from low-income households the tools for academic enrichment.
“I was a tutor with the program and was lucky enough to have found my calling at a young age,” Calloway said. “I have always seen the education path as my passion, not a job.”
Calloway is an alum of Lindblom Technical High School, now the Lindblom Math & Science Acedemy, 6130 S. Wolcott Ave. For college she attended Lewis University, in suburban Romeoville, Illinois where she received a bachelor’s of art in psychology, a master’s in psychology and a master’s in education administration.
“To see how students build resilience and blossom in the foundation of Kenwood is a very rewarding experience,” Calloway said. “Being here long enough to see some of them that have been touched by the impact of the school become solutions in their own community, like former student DeShaun Blake has to be one of the best experiences of this job.”
Blake, a 2016 Kenwood graduate, helped honor the school’s Choir Director Richard Nunley earlier this year by renovating his classroom and donating resources to students with the help of other Kenwood Academy alums and Jennifer Hudson.
“I look forward to this exciting opportunity and giving back to a school that I have watched grow and transform,” Calloway said.