Ryan Gordon

Lincoln Elementary School, 1111 S. Grove Ave. in Oak Park, will have a new permanent principal starting this summer. The District 97 school board voted March 23 to reassign Ryan Gordon to principal, effective July 1. Gordon had been serving as one of the school’s co-interim principals since the 2020-21 school year started. 

District 97 Supt. Carol Kelley congratulated Gordon in a statement the district released last month. 

“Throughout this unprecedented school year, she has proven herself to be an excellent leader who is student-focused, compassionate and empathetic,” Kelley said. “She has been able to act decisively and has built strong relationships with her school community by providing clear and consistent communication. She has also established a strong administrative team that is committed to achieving performance outcomes for all Lincoln students.”

In the statement, D97 officials said the administration’s recommendation “was based upon evaluation of Gordon’s leadership during the 2020-21 school year, as well as careful consideration of external candidate resumes and feedback received throughout the year from key stakeholders, including Lincoln staff.”

Before she was appointed co-interim principal at Lincoln, Gordon was assistant principal at Percy Julian Middle School for two years. Before that, she taught for 11 years in Chicago Public Schools. 

Gordon has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University, D97 officials stated. 

“Working at Lincoln this year has been an amazing experience,” Gordon said. “Leading through a pandemic has taught me so much, but my biggest takeaway is that with flexibility, transparency and community, we can do anything. I look forward to providing consistency to our Lincoln students, staff and families. Together, we will continue to be ‘Up at Lincoln!’”

When she starts in the summer, Gordon will be the fifth principal of Lincoln in roughly six years. 

In January 2020, former principal Laura Zaniolo resigned mid-year after less than a year in the position. Her exit prompted Kelley to hire Reesheda Graham Washington, an Oak Park equity consultant, to do a deep dive into the principal turnover at Lincoln — a problem many parents said started with the exit of former principal Cathy Hamilton in 2017. Hamilton had served as principal of Lincoln for 15 years.

In her statement, Kelly, who is leaving D97 at the end of the school year to start a superintendent position in New Jersey, said she’s confident that Gordon “will continue to bring staff and families together to promote high academic achievement and ensure a positive learning environment for all of our students.”

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