As the district heads into its fourth school year, the GMSD family welcomes some new members to the leadership team.
Missy Abel has been named the new Vice Principal of Houston High School. Mrs. Abel is no stranger to HHS or its teachers. She has been the curriculum coordinator for secondary education since the formation of the district in 2014, building relationships with staff and administration while balancing big picture needs of the overall school district and the state.
Mrs. Abel’s impressive resume includes her tenure as GMSD’s high school Instructional Supervisor, STEM Advisor, District Lead Math Teacher—along with statewide leadership positions with TNCORE as a coach, the TN Department of Education STEM Leadership Council, a member of the Steering Committee of the West TN STEM Hub, and a math item writer and reviewer for TN Department of Education high school state assessments.
Dr. Meredith Park, Director of Academic Advancement, says the transition is bittersweet, and “while we will miss her as an Instructional Supervisor at the district office, we are enthusiastic in our support for her in the vice principal role. Mrs. Abel’s deep knowledge and understanding of curriculum and instruction, coupled with her creative leadership abilities, will ensure Houston High School’s continued excellence serving our students, parents, and community.”
Mrs. Abel, on the transition, wrote this:
“I am honored to join the Houston High School team consisting of an exceptional group of teachers, counselors, support staff, and administrators preparing our amazing students for postsecondary success in their chosen field. I hope to continue the work Ms. Evelyn Harris has accomplished in developing HHS as a flagship in academics over her 24 years of service as Vice Principal. Through a shared vision of excellence always, I look forward to working with the HHS team to continue the strong traditions at HHS, while implementing specific goals to build capacity of teachers and to strengthen relationships with parents and the community”.
“We are very excited to have Missy Abel as our new Vice Principal at Houston High School,” shared Principal of Houston High School Kyle Cherry in a statement. “She is a dedicated, lifelong learner who is committed to developing positive relationships with all stakeholders to promote student success in the classroom and beyond. Her broad variety of administrative experiences, skills, and talents will enhance, support, and expand the curricular, counseling, and administrative needs of, and opportunities for, our students, staff, and community.
From left to right: Jennifer McAlpin, Academic Advancement Administrative Assistant, Bill Gillespie, Instructional Supervisor Grades 6-12, and Sherri Hyatt, Front Desk Receptionist
Bill Gillespie has been named the Instructional Supervisor of Grades 6-12 at the district office. Hailing from Collierville High School, most recently, Mr. Gillespie brings over twenty years of instructional experience to his new leadership position. An English teacher and also a soccer coach at both Collierville and Germantown High in the past, Mr. Gillespie joked, “At both schools I coached against Mr. Manuel when he was coaching at Houston High School [Manuel now serves as the Superintendent]”.
Humor and old rivalries aside, Mr. Gillespie finds that this career transition has really brought him full circle, sharing, “Returning to Germantown as it grows as an independent system is like a second homecoming, and I’ve already had a chance to meet with some teachers who were my students some years ago at both Germantown and Collierville. It’s exciting for me to be able to see them as teachers”.
And, ‘second homecoming’ is no exaggeration, because he attended Dogwood Elementary beginning in 1977 as a Kindergartener through his eighth grade year and subsequently graduated high school from Germantown High. Gillespie continued his Germantown legacy right out of college, “After I finished my Masters, my first job offer was to return to teach at Germantown High School where I taught alongside faculty members who had been my teachers”.
Besides his Germantown roots, Mr. Gillespie also brings some great experience working with strategic ACT improvement programs and data/testing coordination at Collierville High. With similar initiatives happening at Houston High School, he will be a natural addition to the Academic Advancement team.
Mostly though, his appreciation for the craft of teachers and enthusiasm for supporting them is what he is looking forward to doing in his new role.
“I’m excited at the prospect of continuing to work in a small but progressive school district, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to being in classrooms and meeting so many new teachers and seeing them working with their students,” wrote Mr. Gillespie.
Rounding out some changes to the Department of Academic Advancement at central office is Jennifer McAlpin, who has been hired as the Academic Advancement Administrative Assistant. McAlpin and her husband recently relocated to Memphis from Dresden, Tennessee where she served as the financial secretary for Dresden High School for twenty years. “Our girls are both here [one attends the University of Memphis and the other is working for Raymond James in the downtown core] and we felt it was time for a move,” shares McAlpin on the transition. Parents and teachers will get to know her soon, as she will be handling financial paperwork, scheduling appointments, and answering the telephone for the academic department.
“We are very excited to have Mr. Gillespie and Mrs. McAlpin joining the Academic Advancement team. The knowledge and experience that both of these individuals bring with them will allow us to continue to add another layer of success to our quality efforts,” said Director Dr. Meredith Park.
Another department at central office will also be receiving new administrative assistance. Maria Comas, who previously served as the GMSD District Office Front Desk Receptionist has transitioned into a new role as the Finance/Technology Administrative Assistant. The two departments will share her expertise as she assists with financial paperwork and communication within each department.
“We are very pleased to have her—and couldn’t be more excited to see her grow into this new position,” said Director of Information Technology John Pierce.
The Front Desk Receptionist position being vacated by Comas has been filled by newcomer Sherri Hyatt who is elated to join the GMSD family. With several years of experience in office management, she brings a warm smile and is excited to begin a new chapter with our district.