John Shearer: Recent GPS Administrator Jenise Gordon HikIng The Appalachian Trail – The Chattanoogan

To say that recent Girls Preparatory School upper school head Jenise Gordon wants to see what is over the horizon might be a literal truth.


After what she calls 18 very enjoyable years at the school, including the last seven in administration, she recently decided to leave to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety.


“I’ve always wanted to hike the trail, and now seemed to be the right time to do it,” she said during an interview at the school before beginning the planned six-month jaunt.

“I just want to be out in the woods and listen to the sound of my own footfalls.”


For Ms. Gordon, heeding this call of the wild came due to a glance at the calendar as much as a look at the beautiful Appalachian countryside.


She turned 50 in April, she said, and feels that now is a good time to take a mid-life break while she is still in good physical condition. And while wandering through the Eastern United States or afterward, she also hopes to do some pondering to figure out her career plans for the rest of her working life. 


“I have loved every single part about being at this school, but it just seemed right to try something else for a while,” she said. “But before that I needed to take a break.”


And that includes hiking the trail, which she began last month after helping coordinate the Volunteer Girls State gathering at Lipscomb University in Nashville. She said she had been preparing for the walk by exercising and hiking some around Chattanooga and elsewhere and thinking about what all food and equipment to take.


Coming to GPS in 2004 also came after a long journey of the cerebral kind. Reared in Jackson, Tn., where her parents often took the family camping for vacations and she learned about all kinds of outdoor activities, she was a multi-sport athlete at Jackson Southside High.


She was also the third-best student academically before graduating in 1990 and receiving a Presidential Scholarship to Union University, which she attended because of the school’s plans to start a softball program.


She was majoring in pre-med but …….


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