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Rockford Public Schools names veteran educator as new superintendent

Novi schools chief set to begin duties July 1

Rockford — The Rockford Public Schools Board of Education has named Dr. Steve Matthews as its next superintendent. Matthews is currently superintendent of Novi Community School District, a position he has held since 2011.

“I was elated and humbled” to be selected, Matthews told SNN following the public announcement. “This was a great opportunity that I was very hopeful would come my way. When the vote was taken, I was very excited, but I also was humbled.” 

Matthews was one of two finalists for the position after the board narrowed down the field of four candidates last week. Following interviews with both Matthews and Interim Superintendent Korie Wilson-Crawford, the board unanimously selected Matthews in a 7-0 vote on March 25. 

“Rockford Public Schools has a long history of continuous improvement and Dr. Matthews’ experience at moving districts forward will make our great district even better,” board President Nick Reichenbach said in a statement. “Evidence of his work in his current district and history of academic successes are obvious. We are excited to invite Dr. Matthews as Rockford Public Schools’ next superintendent.”

In assuming leadership of Kent County’s fourth-largest school district, Matthews will take over for longtime Superintendent Michael Shibler, who retired at the end of 2021 after more than 32 years at the helm.

“Following a legend like Dr. Shibler is a bit intimidating,” Matthews said. “I am hopeful that I can continue to build on his legacy and continue to make Rockford a wonderful place for students, families, and staff.”

Ready for High Expectations 

Matthews has been a superintendent for 14 years, leading Grand Ledge Public Schools before moving to Novi. The suburban metro Detroit district enrolled 6,618 students this year with a graduation rate of nearly 95 percent. 

Prior to that, he served Troy School District as director of curriculum and assessment. His other positions in education include working as a professor at both Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, and as a sixth-grade teacher in Texas. 

‘I think I have a sense of what high-achieving, high-expectation districts expect from a superintendent.’

– Steve Matthews, newly named Rockford Public Schools superintendent

He holds a doctorate of education degree from Wayne State and a master of education degree from Texas Tech University. 

“I think I have a sense of what high-achieving, high-expectation districts expect from a superintendent,” Matthews said of his professional experience. “One of my strengths is communicating with the community, staff, and students. I think this skill will be important as we move forward and continue to build a strong district in Rockford. 

“Another strength is being visible and present in schools and the community. I think this will serve me well as I work to get to know the Rockford community and find ways to move the district forward.”

In looking ahead to his new role, Matthews said he is most looking forward to getting to know the students, family and staff members in Rockford. 

“Developing these relationships with our families and our staff brings me great joy and helps me to know and understand how to help the district continue to create great opportunities for our community,” he said. 

Matthews is expected to take over leadership of the district by July 1, and Wilson-Crawford will continue in the interim role until then. 

In announcing its selection, the board highlighted Wilson-Crawford’s work during this interim period. 

“The Board of Education wishes to recognize the continued improvement Rockford Public Schools is experiencing because of the outstanding leadership that Interim Superintendent Korie Wilson-Crawford has been providing for the district,” the statement said. 

The board has entered into contract negotiations with Matthews and plans to notify the community once a contract is in place.

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is a reporter (covering Cedar Springs, Grandville, Lowell and Rockford), editor, copy editor and social media manager. She is an award-winning journalist who got her start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate, she later returned to Calvin to help manage its national writing festival. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press, Fox 17 and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio

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