[Newark, NJ – May 4, 2018] “How did the city of Newark influence you?” “Did you grow up in Newark? How did growing up in Newark affect who you are today?” Did you always want to be superintendent?”
These are just some of the questions asked of Newark Public Schools Interim Superintendent Robert Gregory by 7 student ambassadors and writers for Ann Street School’s 12 year-old publication entitled, “Down Neck Diaries.”
Yesterday, the Interim Superintendent sat down for an interview to be published in the next edition of the magazine that was started by then new principal Ann Richardson. Today the magazine is led by 8th grade Literary Advisor Caitlin Spiller and Art Teacher Melanie Valente Schor, while Ms. Richardson continues to lead Ann Street School as the principal.
Interim Superintendent Gregory said in response to the litany of questions, “Everything I do is shaped by my growing up in Newark – being a child of this city, influenced my choices and decisions about life.” Gregory said it was as a child of Newark that he became so excited about history; like where the nicknames Down Neck and Ironbound came from – he told the ambassador journalists why these names were created. He talked about attending church at Metropolitan Baptist Church and attending music classes at the Lincoln Park Music Center. He added that he wanted to be teacher from a very young age and that his interest in teaching grew as he finished high school and entered college.
When asked whether he has always taught in Newark, Interim Superintendent Gregory said, “My first teaching job was going to be in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but then I remembered a promise I made to my father, who was an educator with Newark Public Schools, that I would explore teaching in Newark. He continued, “My promise to my father was realized when just before my grandmother died, she asked me to please come back to Newark to teach because there I could really make a difference. Her legacy and the promise to my father, made me decline the offer to begin teaching outside Philadelphia and that September I instead packed my bags and headed to Newark to teach and I’m still here and I still love education.”