Following is an article written by Casey Flueckiger which was published in The Graphic.
New principal Gene Jones said that his first two months at the helm have been “very smooth” and that he’s excited about what the remainder of his first year will bring. “I am honored. I am humbled. And I am ready to serve Hurricane Nation,” said Jones.
Before landing in Amherst, Jones held a variety of school jobs in both New York and Virginia including Director of Teaching and Learning, Executive Director for High Schools, high school principal, middle school principal, and social studies teacher. A former athlete, Jones has also served as a coach for multiple athletic programs.
Jones said that it was the combination of what ARHS already was, and what it could be, that drew his interest.
“This is an excellent opportunity to help to continue to lead the traditions that have been very successful here,” he said. In ARHS, he sees a “passion for student learning and student success” and a vibrant community.
Students, teachers, and administrators seem optimistic about the new change in leadership. Assistant Principal Miki Gromacki said she has “enjoyed working with Mr. Jones” and that he “brings a lot of experience to the position.”
Jones has expressed his intention to use the beginning of the year as a “listening tour”: meeting students and teachers, observing the school, and understanding how it operates. He aims to sit in on a minimum of five classes per day to get a sense of how students interact with their teachers, how policies are enforced, and how classrooms are run. He does not plan to make any major changes during his first year.
However, students have already noticed positive changes in school culture since his arrival. Senior class president Aarti Lamberg said he brings “new energy.” The community is “filled with spirit, pride, and excitement,” said Lamberg. “It’s inspiring to see a person of color in a powerful position.”
Senior Liam Carpenter-Shulman said Jones has contributed to the return of what the athletic community has dubbed ‘the Naysh,’ short for Hurricane Nation.
“There’s an air of excitement and an air of hope,” said Carpenter-Shulman. “[Jones] is doing a good job of not being overbearing on us and letting us drive the ship in this time of transition.”
Jones said his two goals for this year are “to continue to increase student participation in various activities throughout the year” and “to continue to lead the positive climate and culture of the school.” And he wants to emphasize “the importance of student achievement and student growth.”
Sophomore Lily Gleason, said “[Jones] has made this school better in the short time he has been here. Everything seems to be running more smoothly, there’s much less drama and everyone has more respect.”