Mary Jean Gibson, an assistant principal in Arlington, has been named as the new principal of John Adams Elementary School. She will begin working at the school July 18. Gibson will replace current Adams Principal Gayle Smith, who has accepted the position of federal and state program administrator for Alexandria City Public Schools.
Gibson is a native of Arlington, where she attended public schools and graduated from Yorktown High School in 1982. She majored in elementary education at the College of William and Mary, where she graduated in 1986. In 1994, she earned a master's degree in educational leadership and human development from George Mason University.
Her teaching career began in 1987, when she took a position in Manassas. The next year, she moved back to Arlington to accept a position teaching first grade at Glebe Elementary School. In 1993, she took a one-year position mentoring new elementary teachers and then returned to Glebe. Then, in 1997, she was hired as assistant principal at Abingdon Elementary School — where she has served as an administrator ever since. For the past year, she has been assistant principal at both Abingdon and Ashlawn Elementary School.
"We are very excited to have Ms. Gibson join the ACPS family," said Superintendent Rebecca Perry. "Her professional experience and accomplishments have prepared her to be an excellent leader at John Adams Elementary School."
John Adams Elementary School, originally built as a middle school in 1967, became an elementary school in 1980. The school has 84 licensed staff members, 63 percent of whom have postgraduate degrees. More than half of its 516 students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Forty-six percent of its students are black, 30 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are white and 10 percent are Asian Pacific.
"I'm looking forward to working with the diverse student population at John Adams," Gibson said. "It's going to be a great year."
The school's English-Spanish Dual Language Program is popular among Alexandria's magnet schools, bringing 139 students to the school who do not live in its west-side district.
"The Dual Language Program is an exciting way to learn," Gibson said. "It creates students who are truly bilingual at an early age — when children are most receptive to learning language skills."