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I am APS: Dr. Cedrick Gilbert

by Thomas Scott

I am APS is a special series highlighting students, faculty, alumni, and others in celebration of the rich and diverse experiences, backgrounds and contributions within the Atlanta Public Schools family. Together, we stand in solidarity of our shared admiration of APS and the mission which guides us.

Phoenix Academy assistant principal Dr. Cedrick Gilbert with his Turner High School class of ’89 yearbook photo (photo: Thomas Scott).

APS went down memory lane with a true Atlanta Public Schools lifer.

Dr. Cedrick Gilbert, the assistant principal at Phoenix Academy, was raised, educated and employed by the school district that has been his home since he was a kindergarten student at Alonzo F. Herndon Elementary School.

As a proud APS alumni, whose varsity letterman jacket still fits, Dr. Gilbert shared how his experiences through APS shaped his career and led him back to leading the scholars in his own community.

Dr. Cedrick Gilbert
Assistant Principal at Phoenix Academy, Turner High School class of ‘89

Q: What makes you proud to be an APS alumnus?

A: What makes me extremely proud to be an APS alumnus is that I realize that I’m carrying the torch of great giants. I firmly stand on the shoulders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Nobel Peace Prize winner, drum major for justice and a Booker T. Washington High School graduate. I stand on the shoulders of Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first African American woman to attend the University of Georgia and a Turner High School graduate. I stand firmly on the shoulders of Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr., the first African American mayor of Atlanta and David T. Howard High School graduate… But two people that are most important to me that supersede all those great giants, I stand on the shoulders of Phyllis Sherman, my mother and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, and my father George Richard Gilbert, who attended David T. Howard High School. I stand firmly on the shoulders of all the historic greats that have graduated from this historic school district and I’m trying to carry that torch.

Q: How has APS prepared you for life and helped you reach your goals?
I’ve experienced all the intangibles of life by being a student in Atlanta Public Schools. I’ve encountered success, failures, love, heartache, and heartbreak. I’ve encountered caring and loving adults who wanted the best for me. Teachers and coaches pushed me to be great and I’ve also encountered roadblocks, obstacles and challenges, all of which is a great recipe for life.

Dr. Cedrick Gilbert spent senior week at Turner High School shadowing then principal Dr. Roy Hadley, and now he’s a school administrator (photo: Turner High 1989 yearbook)

Q: What made Henry McNeal Turner High School special?

A: I’m a life member and officer of the Turner High School Alumni Association. I support the annual scholarship and prayer breakfast, and the Turner High School picnic and tailgate. I constantly wear the Turner HS paraphernalia. One would say that you never experience high school unless you attended Henry McNeal Turner High School.
It was special in the fact that the faculty and staff were caring. They were nurturing. We had a leader in the form of Dr. Roy Hadley, who served as the principal during my years, and he was a phenomenal leader. He cultivated healthy relationships with students. I saw how he interacted with staff. He was not only just excellent in curriculum, instruction and pedagogy, he was a leader of men. I saw how the staff responded to him, and I saw not only the relationship he had with me but with other students. He was vested and it showed.

Q: Was your career in education inspired by your APS experience?
I’ve always admired Dr. Hadley because, first of all, he was a doctor. He really inspired me. Dr. Hadley was a major influence on me, and as a result I pursued education, went on to post-secondary education. I was able to earn my doctoral degree and become an administrator. I attribute that to the experience I had in the Atlanta Public Schools system, particularly my high school years under the great leadership of Dr. Roy Hadley.

Dr. Cedrick Gilbert is a proud APS alumnus of Henry McNeal Turner High School (photo: Thomas Scott)

Q: Was your career in education inspired by your APS experience?
Do you have any memorable APS experiences?
I attended Alonzo F. Herndon Elementary School, APS. I attended John F. Kennedy Middle School, APS. I attended Henry McNeal Turner High School, APS. I stayed home and attended Morris Brown College here in Atlanta. Upon graduating from college, I had the opportunity to go back to my former elementary school, Alonzo F. Herndon Elementary School on Simpson Rd. to be a teacher. I was able to go back to the community that gave to me as a young child. I was able to go walk down those same halls that I did as a kindergartner. It was a remarkable experience, one that I cherish and hold near and dear to my heart. Anytime you have an opportunity to go back to your old elementary school and have a positive impact on not just students, but students whose parents you grew up with. I was a part of that community.

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