- Sponsorship -

Board Member’s Bywords: Grit, Growth and Giving Back

Putting ‘A Passion for Education’ to Work for Students

If Kentwood Public Schools Board of Education Vice President Allen Young was standing in front of a classroom, he would tell students to never give up. He would tell them to usethe “Kentwood grit” for which the the district is known, and which he himself has used plenty of.

“I would love for them, whatever dream they have, to make sure they follow it,” said Young, a board member since 2012. “I would have to be really honest with them because I would have to tell them that life brings about changes. There are going to be hills and valleys and curves in the road, but stick to it.”

Kentwood is all about the growth mindset, meaning that people can get smarter through hard work and practice, he said. “Keep exercising that brain. Don’t let it go soft, and also don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Young, a maintenance coordinator for Linc Up, a community development organization in Kent County, grew up in Arkansas. He remembers being an average student who struggled in some classes. “I had to throw in a little extra grit,” he said.

But his goal was to graduate with honors, which he did in 1973, and enrolled in a trade school. He then worked in the metal distribution industry for many years before working in maintenance.

‘There are going to be hills and valleys and curves in the road, but stick to it.’ — Allen Young, Kentwood school board member

He and his wife, Johngerlyn Young, have one son, Austin, a 2014 East Kentwood graduate and now a sophomore at Morehouse College, in Atlanta.

For Young, serving on the board has always been about giving back. “I’ve always had the desire to help. I followed my son all the way from kindergarten through graduation, so I have a passion for education and for young people to improve themselves.”

He said the biggest challenge of the job, which requires about 10 hours of work per week, is dealing with the limits of the budget.

“You want to try to not cut anything, but sometimes you have to do that. We try not to do it so it’s going to be a detriment to the students. It can be painstaking.”

Boards of education are the frontline for parents and community members to address issues they feel strongly about. Young said he’s happy they come to him. “I don’t really accept those as complaints,” he insisted. “I accept them as concerns.”

When asked how much the stipend for board members is, Young had to ask a fellow board member. “I didn’t have a clue!” he said about the $40 per meeting rate.

Related Articles:

Pat Nugent, Lowell Area Schools

Wendy Falb, Grand Rapids Public Schools

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese 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 and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...

Teacher and coach applies lessons in classroom and on field

New Kelloggsville head football coach Brandon Branch also teaches science and math at the high school and looks to bring academics and athletics together whenever he can...

Two high schools, newly renovated, await return of students

Two major renovation projects at Ottawa Hills and Union high schools are part of a 30-year, $175 million school improvement bond approved November 2015 with the majority, $155 million, earmarked for construction...

Avid reader, Petoskey-stone hunter, lover of great outdoors

Melanie Hoeksema is the new Ada Elementary principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Principal...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...

Districts ponder how to keep students learning, engaged

Teachers are challenged to keep their style of instruction intact with students who are socially distanced and, often, not in the building at all...

Inspired by a young girl’s thoughts

Cora Hovernale won a $200 prize in the art category in a contest hosted by the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU