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City, District Leaders Join Forces to Connect Community

Each summer, families gather for a huge neighborhood picnic on the lawn of Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary School, spearheaded by Kelloggsville Christian Reformed Church and marking National Night Out.

Then, in September, area business and church representatives line up with booths at the Kelloggsville Community Pride Festival– painting children’s faces and doling out goodies–prior to a Kelloggsville High School football game.

Behind the scenes, working to tie together different entities in the cities of Kentwood, Wyoming and Kelloggsville Public Schools and to keep everyone informed, is the Kelloggsville Public Schools Community Coalition, which meets five times per year at the Kelloggsville Administrative Building in an ongoing effort to remain connected.

With their help, school programs expand. Students learn about scholarship opportunities, volunteers sign up for different organizations, and people learn of new opportunities to get involved in the community.

“It’s been a nice connecting point for the community,” said Tammy Savage, Kelloggsville’s director of instruction. “We’re asking, ‘How can we be of service to each other?'”

The five-year-old group is made up of district businesses, churches, representatives of the Wyoming and Kentwood Parks and Recreation departments, local government officials and educators who update each other on what’s going on in their areas of expertise.

“We’ve all worked together to unite forces and know what each other isdoing,” said Kelloggsville Board of Education Vice President Deb Sellers. “It’s had a huge impact.”

During the hour-long meetings, which include a legislative update and reports from Kelloggsville school principals and city and business representatives, connections are made. Topics are many, and touch on everything from district news to new city events and church initiatives.

“I feel more informed and I can find out more opportunities for things to be involved with,” said Aida Slogar, branch manager for Lake Michigan Credit Union.

Recently the coalition discussed the following:

  • standardized testing changes and how they impact students’ preparation
  • a new after-school fine arts program at the faith-based nonprofit The Dock, located across the street at Kelloggsville Middle School
  • improved attendance at Southeast Elementary School due to an initiative led by Kent School Services Network, a countywide program that brings social and medical services to students’ schools and homes
  • parks and recreation programs
  • scholarship opportunities available through Lake Michigan Credit Union

“I have found the coalition to be a very valuable connection point for not only the community which comprises the Kelloggsville Public School district, but the greater community, as well,” said Eric Tomkins. “Bringing together school district, municipal, business, non-profit and faith-based staff allows for information distribution across many sectors and helps those sectors to learn more about each other.”

The coalition was formed by Superintendent Sam Wright as a way to ensure good communication in a district with a border that falls within two cities: Wyoming and Kentwood.

“We don’t have an actual (Kelloggsville) business community. It’s a way to get in contact with area leaders,” he said.

“We’ve made the connections we are striving for. It’s a good way to connect what we are trying to do in the community with the school system,” Wright said.

Savage said the coalition serves a way to make as many connections as possible in a small district.

“The big connection here is everybody has a heart for the kids,” she said.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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