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Realtors Get Schooled on One District


Real-estate agent Dave DeBruyn has been selling homes in Kentwood for 35 years, and says he knows what buyers care about most: location and schools.

So he approached Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff about hosting a real-estate agent open house, similar to one the district held in 2008. Nearly 100 agents attended the event at East Kentwood High School to learn more about the district and have facts on hand for prospective buyers.

It’s important to get the word out about local schools, particularly during a hot housing market and residential and commercial growth along the M-6 corridor, including data center Switch Industries moving into the former Steelcase pyramid building, Zoerhoff said. He presented information to agents about the district’s numerous athletics and extracurricular opportunities, facilities, numerous academic awards and accomplishments, and expectations of excellence.

The district also recently passed a $64.8 million bond proposal to pay for technology, safety and building improvements.

“Our goal is to open the communication lines to give them a face with a name so they have access to information about the schools,” Zoerhoff said. “We want to give the facts. We believe we have some really good facts to share and we want to help the Realtors have these facts to help them sell houses.”

Mayor Stephen Kepley and Mo Shamali, the district’s child nutrition director, also presented information about the district and community.

DeBruyn said he suggested holding an open house because of growth in the area.

“The timing was right again. We are low on inventory; there’s a lot going on. There’s going to be a lot of demand,” he said. “Now it’s time to highlight all the good that Kentwood does that doesn’t always surface out to the public.”

Mo Shamali explains his work as a chef in Kentwood Public Schools
Mo Shamali explains his work as a chef in Kentwood Public Schools

A Global Community

The beauty of Kentwood, presenters said, is its diversity in housing and residents. In Kentwood Public Schools there are nearly 90 countries represented and 61 languages spoken among the student body.

“It’s weird, we’ve got this little bubble here in Kentwood where Muslims, Christians, all races, genders, preferences, you name it, seem to get along,” Zoerhoff said. “I don’t know how they do it, but I think the world could study us and learn something from it. That’s where I want my child to grow up and learn.”

Added Shamali, “When anyone steps in to Kentwood we don’t see them as an outsider. They are one of us. We want residents who attend Kentwood. We accept you the way you are.”

Real-estate agents said they attended to have more information to share with buyers.

“To be educated about the school district is a positive,” said Leda VanderLaan, real-estate agent with RE/MAX United. “To be able to have experience inside the schools is important.”

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City of Kentwood

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. 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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