There is so much compassion in educating Kent County children. It is without a doubt a complicated mission, preparing our children to be readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists and socially aware individuals of strong character. (Phew, is there any other profession that requires as much?) Indeed, what I have learned most from covering school districts for five years now for School News Network is that education requires commitment, hard work, creativity and so much love.
I’ve gotten to know teachers who do everything they can to help their students be successful, from teaching them a new algebra tactic or writing skill to making sure they have food over the weekend or a roof above their heads. I’ve told the story of students compelled to lead their peers in ways that seem beyond their years. I’ve interviewed students who have overcome incredible odds to get to graduation day including homelessness, language barriers and chronic illness. I’ve met students who are so articulate I am left speechless by their knowledge and confidence. I have written about administrators who are more like collaborators with their staff, who know that working together creates the kind of culture their students deserve.
I have also learned so much about the overarching issues that affect education: poverty, inequity, unequally divided resources. I have heard so many educators cry out for the need for change and reforms so they can better meet the needs of their students. I am humbled to be able to give them a voice.
It has been an enlightening experience to be privy to what’s happening inside classrooms The stories in Kent County schools are colorful, dynamic, layered and diverse. Each district I cover, Kentwood, Kelloggsville, Byron Center, Caledonia, Wyoming, Godfrey-Lee and Godwin Heights, is unique and has its own stories. But inside the school walls, regardless of zip code, students, guided by teachers, are working toward their future careers and creating foundations for how they will impact society. I find joy, inspiration and hope in so many classrooms.
Besides writing, I spend my time raising my two children, ages 14 and 11, with my husband Ignazio. We are always on the go, enjoying athletics, relaxing weekends at our family’s cottage on Gun Lake, and traveling as much as possible. We are an easygoing, fun family and love to just be together. My children attend Wyoming Public Schools, and are lucky and happy to have great teachers and friends. They may take after me: they always come home at the end of the day with new stories!