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National Spotlight Shines on Museum School

One of ‘XQ Super Schools’ Featured on TV Special

Museum School has made a big splash in West Michigan since its beginning three years ago along the banks of the Grand River. Tonight it will ride a bigger wave nationally as part of a TV special on “super schools” being broadcast on four networks.

“XQ Super School Live” will feature the Grand Rapids Public Museum School, along with other schools supported by the $100 million Super School Project, a nationwide effort to “reshape high school.” Museum School was one of 10 to receive $10 million grants last year in a contest backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.

WHAT: “XQ Super School Live,” a TV broadcast about innovative U.S. schools including Grand Rapids Public Museum School

WHEN: 8 p.m. EST Friday, Sept. 8


A viewing party of local educators and partners will be held in the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium of the Van Andel Museum Center, home to the Museum School. The school this year enrolls 180 students in grades 6-8, and will expand next year to ninth grade at the old museum building at 54 Jefferson Ave. SE, adding a grade each year until it is a full high school.

Although they aren’t sure how much of the Grand Rapids school will be featured on the TV special, which reportedly will include stars such as Tom Hanks and Samuel L. Jackson, educators are excited about the exposure it will bring.

“It’s good for everybody – the school, the museum, Grand Rapids, West Michigan – good for the whole state,” said Dale Robertson, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. “It’s pretty cool.”

Students this week installed an art project featuring images of themselves on the south wall of the Van Andel Museum Center, overseen by an artist named JR as part of the Inside Out People’s Art Project (photo courtesy of Museum School)

Historic Museum Mission Expands

Robertson said the Museum School advances the Public Museum’s historic mission as an educational institution for the community, in conjunction with partners including the city, Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art and Design. Students are able to access fossils, pieces of cultural history and other items among the museum’s 250,000-plus artifacts. Officials want to create lesson plans and units around those artifacts that can be shared with schools throughout Kent ISD, Robertson said.

“Ninety percent of our collections were donated over 152 years by the people of West Michigan,” including missionaries and world travelers who brought items from abroad, he said. “They donated to have an impact, to tell a story, to deliver a message and have it shared with the community.”

The Museum School, he said, is “a fulfilling of the promise we made when we accepted those artifacts and donations, that they be shared and utilized.”

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said she’s grateful to the community partners that made Museum School possible, and launched it onto the national stage.

“It was such a natural partnership,” Neal said. “We couldn’t even have done it with just GRPS.”

Students are excited to have their school show up on national TV, although they’ve gotten used to “always having cameras in your faces,” joked eighth-grader Brooklyn Sykes.

“It’s not every day you go to a school and it’s on TV,” said seventh-grader Zeke DeBlaay, who would like the show to have an impact. “I just hope people start to change the way high school works, and school in general works.”


Student ‘Musees’ Explore Exhibits, Venture Into City to Learn

Pumped up about their school being on TV are, from left, seventh-graders Ezra Wright and Zeke DeBlaay, and eighth-graders Alan Miranda and Brooklyn Sykes
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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio


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