Annette Jackson Gurley was born and raised in Chicago and was educated in Chicago Public Schools from grades K-12. Having graduated from Medill elementary School and Lindblom Technical High School, Annette completed her undergraduate degree at University of Illinois Chicago with honors. Annette also holds graduate degrees in Reading (Chicago State University) and Administration and Supervision (Concordia University). Annette is happily married to her high school sweetheart. They have been married over 40 years and are the proud parents of one adult son.
Annette has enjoyed teaching both in the parochial school system and in the Chicago Public Schools. Most of her career with CPS was spent at Michele Clark Middle School, where she started as a substitute teacher and worked her way up to the position of principal. While serving as assistant principal at Clark, Mrs. Gurley was awarded the prestigious National Milken Family Foundation Award (1999) and the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA)-Chicago Tribune Outstanding Leadership Award (2001). Annette became interim principal of Michele Clark Middle School in December 2001 and was awarded a contract in February 2002.
As contract principal of Clark (February 2002 – June 2007), Mrs. Gurley, with the support of parents, students, staff, and community members, was successful in improving student achievement. During her first three years as principal, Michele Clark Middle School was heralded as one of the Chicago Public School’s “Rising Stars”, a distinction awarded to schools showing student gains in performance on the state achievement exam. In June 2007, Clark was recognized as one of only forty-eight CPS elementary schools showing six years of consecutive gains.
Additionally, under Annette Gurley’s leadership, Michele Clark Middle School transitioned into Michele Clark Academic Preparatory Magnet High School, serving students in Grades 6-12. Clark was authorized in March 2004 as an official International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school. Just three years later, in May 2007, Clark earned the authorization to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma curriculum as well, making it the first Chicago Public School to offer both the IB Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma
Programme at the same site. Additional programs implemented and sustained to enhance student achievement under Mrs. Gurley’s leadership include the High School Transformation Project, the AVID Program, GEAR-UP, IMPACT, and the partnership with 100 Black Men of Chicago.
Annette was appointed to the position of Area Instruction Officer (AIO) for Cluster 2 Area 3 in July 2007. As an AIO, and later Network Chief for CPS schools in Austin and North Lawndale, Annette coached, supported, developed, and supervised school principals in the Austin, Galewood, and North Lawndale Communities by providing instructional leadership to school level administrators and teachers.
Annette served as Chief Area Officer for Cluster 2-Area 3 of Chicago Public Schools in 2007. When that position was redefined to Chief of Schools, Austin-North Lawndale Network, Annette served as chief from 2007 to December 2012, at which time she was promoted to Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning for the Chicago Public Schools. Annette retired as Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning in August 2016. She is credited with leading the change in the CPS Promotion Policy, which provided multi-tiered systems of support and reduced the retention rate for children in grades 3, 6, and 8. Currently, does Education Leadership Consulting, and is a member of the Advisory Board for Beable, promoting Life-Ready Literacy solutions.