Meet Our Principal
Principal, Gary Comer College Prep Middle School
Dear GCMS Parents and Families,
Words can’t begin to describe how honored I am to join this community and serve as your next principal. GCMS has a history of excellence and I am grateful for the foundation that Principal Epley has set for our school’s continued success as well as the path that interim Principal, Ms. Norris, has us on to finish this year strong. As we look forward to the upcoming school year, I am eager to get to know each one of you. I am ready to take in all the feedback you have offered and to create more spaces for you to come alongside and help shape the future of GCMS. Our school must be a place where your voices are welcomed and heard and I am committed to ensuring that this continues under my leadership.
A little about me and my hopes for GCMS:
- I’m a proud Chicagoan – born and raised in Roseland where I live today. There is innate brilliance and beauty in communities like Roseland and Grand-Crossing. I believe our communities are the heartbeat of this city.
- I’m a product of CPS and know intimately what K-12 educational opportunities in this city can both afford and deny our scholars.
- I’m a parent of a college freshman and a high school sophomore both of whom are navigating what it means to be a young person in today’s world. I leverage my experiences as a mom to be a more responsive and empathetic leader.
- I lead and live with my whole heart – deliberately, passionately, and unapologetically. Love and humility fuel how I DO and BE. I have the head and heart necessary to continue the legacy of leadership at GCMS.
- I’m a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practitioner and coach by trade. In the last 15 years, I’ve helped hundreds of educators pursue DEI In their classrooms, schools, and organizations.
- I’m a former Noble teacher, grade level lead, Dean of Instruction, and Assistant Principal. I have a deep affinity for Noble and am grateful to be back home.
- I’ve always wanted to be a principal and have built my capacity to lead in ways that remove instead of create barriers for staff, students, and parents.
- I started my career in education as a middle school teacher. I am excited to lead at GCMS because middle school is a critical precipice for our scholars.
- Middle School scholars experience cognitive, physical, and emotional changes alongside heightened behavioral and academic expectations. This is difficult for any child but it’s especially hard for students facing systemic racism and/or poverty.
- Middle School is where scholars begin to crystalize their identities and educators have incredible influence on this process. We tell them implicitly and explicitly who they are to become. Your babies/our scholars are our city’s most impressionable population. The real work is here and I intend to make sure your scholars receive an excellent education in a setting that loves and affirms who they are. You will not have to choose one over the other at GCMS. That is my commitment to you.
I look forward to getting to know you all in the coming weeks and months ahead. Here’s to a new chapter at GCMS- one that will build on what you have come to love and appreciate most and one that will take us to new heights as a school community.
Ms. JuDonne Hemingway