New principal selected for Homewood’s Willow School

Ryan Gordon, third from left, was named the next principal of Willow School. Congratulating her are, from left, Melissa Lawson, retiring principal; Shelly Marks, District 153 school board president; and Scott McAlister, superintendent. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Ryan Gordon, a principal in Oak Park District 97, was selected by the Homewood District 153 school board to serve as the next principal at Willow School. Her appointment was unanimously approved at the Feb. 12 board meeting.

The board started with 12 finalists for the principal’s job and winnowed the list down to eight and then three finalists. Those three were interviewed by three different committees — 17 staff members from Willow, a 12-member parent team and a 13-member administrators/school board members committee.

“When you look at where we are as a district and more importantly where we’re going, Ryan is the person to take Willow School to the next level. We’re excited about it,” Superintendent Scott McAlister said.

Gordon will be filling the job now held by Melissa Lawson who is retiring after spending more than 20 years at Willow School.


Gordon has a 17-year career in education. She spent 11 years as a Chicago Public Schools teacher before transitioning to an assistant principal position at a middle school in Oak Park. She served there for two years before accepting the principal position four years ago at Lincoln Elementary School serving students kindergarten through fifth grade. 

When Gordon and her partner decided to relocate to Flossmoor, she thought she’d apply for the Willow job. 

“When the opportunity came up, I thought I’d give it a shot,” she told the Chronicle. “I did a lot of research on the community. It made sense I’d be a part of it.”

“I’m excited to do some of the tough work around equity and inclusion, and am really excited to be a part of a community that’s actually doing the work and making things happen for children,” Gordon said. She intends to “bring a collaborative environment for our staff and greater community” to the job.

Gordon received a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a master’s degree in principal preparation from Concordia University.

Gordon’s two children are in college and graduate school. Her partner’s children will attend Parker Junior High and Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week