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Coffee, Connection, Celebration

Every month, Roosevelt Beasley attends the Principal’s Coffee event at West Godwin Elementary so he can be involved in the education of his fourth-grade son, Keion. He loves that he can talk to Steven Minard directly over a cup of joe.

“The principal is always connecting with the students and the parents,” Beasley said. “There’s a bridge there. I feel safe and I feel comfortable and (Keion) is learning a lot.”

Minard invites parents to grab coffee and doughnuts and sit down to hear information presented in English and Spanish. They talk about reading, writing, math, testing and school events, and they always celebrate achievements.

When Minard hosted the first coffee in 2014, only six parents attended. Now 50 to 75 regularly attend.

“The main purpose is community,” he said. “We know in our district at West that keeping our parents and stakeholders involved is major for our success. This is a really casual way to keep them informed.”

Principal Steve Minard counts down with kindergartners before shouting, “West Godwin rocks!”
Principal Steve Minard counts down with kindergartners before shouting, “West Godwin rocks!”

To kick off the school year, Minard recognized kindergartners, a crop of beaming 5- and 6-year-olds who will graduate as the Class of 2029. As parents snapped photos, he stressed that every moment counts in school.

About half of West Godwin students are Hispanic, and many parents speak English as a second language. Breaking down communication barriers with them is key, said Karen Baum. West Godwin instruction specialist. “We are not just meeting the needs of kids, we are meeting the needs of families,” she said. “This is a very important part of our culture.”

Another important piece is meeting high academic expectations, Baum said. Recent M-Step scores show large gains in reading and math, and that’s a result of the work of teachers, parents and students, she said.

As a parent, Beasley said he loves the opportunity to get to know Minard and the West Godwin staff, and to do his part to help the school.

For Keion, it feels great to have Dad there when the principal talks about his good work. “He recognizes us for outstanding reading, outstanding behavior and outstanding math,” said the fourth-grader.


Another Way Godwin Heights Brings in Families

The class of 2029 celebrated starting their school career
The class of 2029 celebrated starting their school career
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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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