Meet the New Assistant Principal of John Mills: Q&A with Natalia Gomez

Natalia Gomez

Born in the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park and raised in suburban Orland Park, Ms. Natalia Gomez brings fluent Spanish skills and 14 years of education experience to her new job as assistant principal of John Mills Elementary School. Welcome to the Trojan family, Ms. Gomez! (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

Fluent in Spanish, Ms. Natalia Gomez brings 14 years of experience as a professional educator to her new job as John Mills' assistant principal

Born in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, Ms. Gomez grew up in Orland Park and went to the local public high school, Carl Sandburg.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and master’s degrees from Quincy University and Roosevelt University.

Ms. Gomez comes to John Mills after working in Chicago Public Schools. She started her career in speech and language pathology, then became an EL/bilingual teacher. Her most recent position prior to John Mills was as a dual language coordinator in CPS.

Shortly after arriving in Elmwood Park, Ms. Gomez did a virtual Q&A with District 401’s Dave Porreca. We invite you to read on and learn more about the new John Mills AP!

Interview with Ms. Gomez

Welcome to John Mills Elementary School and District 401, Ms. Gomez! Could you tell us a little bit about your most recent position prior to becoming John Mills’ assistant principal?

I was the dual language coordinator at a Chicago Public School for the past three years. I led our shift from a transitional bilingual program to a two-way dual language program model and am most proud to have been a part of that to provide more opportunities for our students, families and community. My responsibilities also included providing professional development for teachers, coaching, mentoring, scheduling, and coordinating all language-related and compliance issues such as screenings, testing, placement, curriculum/unit planning, etc.

What attracted you to your new position here in District 401?

I was attracted to the small town/district, with an urban feel and diversity. 

For those who might not be familiar with the job, what are the responsibilities of the John Mills assistant principal?

Some of the responsibilities of the John Mills AP include supporting teachers, students and families; coordinating, scheduling and implementing building procedures; handling disciplinary issues; observing and evaluating teachers; tracking attendance, academic performance, student growth, etc.; community outreach; and being involved in student and family activities and services.

Why did you become an educator? What attracted you to education as a career, and why move into administration?

I was that kid who always loved school and knew I wanted to be a teacher. In addition, language has always been my passion, so my background in speech and language pathology set a strong foundation for the EL/bilingual teacher that I later became. I was offered a leadership position that I was successful at and enjoyed. After completing a teacher leadership program through Roosevelt University, there was a principal pathway opportunity. Only then did I realize that I was on the road to moving into administration and ready for the challenge! 

What keeps you going and inspired as an educator, especially given the unprecedented challenges of the last 18 months or so? 

Upward and onward! I love the routines and structure of school, as well as the unpredictability each day brings. Now, more than ever, we are needed as educators to support our communities’ children.

If you could summarize the philosophy that guides you as a professional, what would it be?

My philosophy is to advocate for students and families as we raise global citizens who will contribute positively to our world. This encompasses social-emotional, cognitive and academic learning to educate the whole child. 

What are you most looking forward to in the new school year?

I’m most looking forward to serving the Elmwood Park community. I’m eager to connect with staff, students and families here. 

When you were starting out in your career, what was some of the best advice you received and from whom?

“Be loyal to yourself and fill your cup in order to best serve others.” — School Clerk 

What are the most important things parents can do to help their student(s) succeed in school?

Talk, read and provide opportunities for experiences! Having conversations and reading with children is crucial in developing language and critical thinking skills. Providing opportunities for children to experience different places and things in the real world enhances their background knowledge and schema that will be activated and helpful in the school setting. 

Building on that, what are the most important things students can do to get the most out of their schooling, especially when they encounter difficulties and obstacles, as most students do?

Set goals, do your best and be positive! 

Is there anything you would like to share about yourself outside of your job?

I come from a big Colombian family. My favorite pastimes include yoga, meditating, dancing and playing games. I've traveled to several countries and am grateful for the experiences, but there is no place like home. I’ve always lived in the Chicago area.

Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Gomez. Welcome again to John Mills and District 401!

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