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Superintendent announces retirement after 33 years serving Kentwood community

Kentwood — Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff this week announced he will retire at the end of the school year, June 30.

Zoerhoff said he is leaving the post he has held since 2013 at the age he always planned to retire.

“I turned 55 in April and spent 33 years in education and in this wonderful profession. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”

It’s been a busy school year with many challenges due to the pandemic, Zoerhoff said, though that was not a factor in his decision. He plans to spend the next few months doing what needs to be done to meet those challenges. “There is a lot of work to do,” he said.

Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff

Zoerhoff, who graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and master’s from Grand Valley State University. He spent his entire 33-year career in Kentwood Public Schools serving as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant principal, assistant superintendent and finally superintendent. 

“I have done it all,” he said, noting that he was always happy to help out in the lunch room or ride on the bus with students. “It’s because I love this place so much. Each role I’ve had has made me a better person.”

Highlights of Zoerhoff’s career have been seeing others succeed, he said. He loves to see staff and students thrive and go on to do wonderful things.

In the last 10 years Kentwood Public Schools has celebrated many achievements, including having 19 schools named “Beating the Odds” schools by the Michigan Department of Education. Eight schools have been named “Reward Schools” by the Michigan Department of Education. Also, the The Flippen Group awarded 14 schools as Capturing Kids Hearts National Showcase Schools.

Most recently,  Discovery Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.  

Kentwood Public Schools is the most diverse district in the state, which is part of what makes it so special, Zoerhoff said.

“It is more than just a job for me, it’s a home,” he said. “My children go here. My family lives here. I love the diversity. I love the wonderful tapestry of cultures we have. I love the excellence we have and I love the growth mindset we have, that Kentwood grit. We are a tough, loyal community that is very strong together. It is a beautiful place to be.”

The Board of Education is working to establish a superintendent search process, said Board President Mimi Madden in a press release. “Listening and being responsive to our Kentwood community, both internal and external, has always been important. This will continue during the superintendent search process. In the coming month, we will establish a direction that maintains this tradition and identifies our next steps.”

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Erin Albanese
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 or email Erin.

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