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‘The bonds are lasting’

Why I Teach: EL Coordinator and Godfrey-Lee alum, Andrea Donovan 

Godfrey-LeeAndrea Donovan is in her 20th year of teaching in the district, but has been part of the fami-“Lee” since she was a kindergartner at Godfrey Elementary. After graduating from Lee High School in 1997, she began coaching seventh-grade volleyball at Lee. Her teaching career began at Vision Quest High School, currently known as East Lee Campus, where she taught English and PE. She spent another 15 years teaching at Lee Middle School, Lee High School and the Early Childhood Center. 

Donovan is currently the district’s EL coordinator, with an office down the hall from her husband, Mike’s eighth-grade social studies classroom, the same room where Donovan taught and was a fifth-grade student in 1989. 

What is the thing that gets you up in the morning and excited about teaching? “That’s an easy one. Absolutely, more than anything, it is the people: the students, staff and families and the connections, bonds and memories that come from investing in one another. Some of my best memories and closest relationships are a result of the years spent here at Godfrey-Lee. I am truly blessed.” 

‘I was so excited as soon as I graduated to start checking the district’s job postings. … Knowing that educators are life-changers is so fulfilling and motivating.’

— District EL Coordinator Andrea Donovan

What’s the most amazing thing about the students you work with? “Our district is filled with so many students from different backgrounds, and it’s our role as educators to meet their learning needs and celebrate cultural diversity. I also love making connections with the families in our community through their students.” 

In a previous interview, Donovan said: “Bilingualism is a superpower. Language and literacy open doors and set people free. Students come to us with that gift and we want to recognize and celebrate that.” 

How was your experience as a student in the same district you’re teaching? “Amazing, hence the reason I came back. I was so excited as soon as I graduated to start checking the district’s job postings. I’ve been either a student or teacher in every building and have loved every part of it. I had such a great experience coaching middle-school athletics, helping special populations at Vision Quest and in my current role.”  

What is your favorite memory from years as a student? “My whole senior class drove down on a bus to Florida senior year. My girlfriends from high school and I still get together, and have gone on smaller trips together over the years. The bonds are lasting and it feels so special to be a part of this legacy.”

What inspired you to go into education? “As early as I can remember, I wanted a job to help the teacher when I was in school. I attended Grand Valley State University, where I earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and physical education and a minor in journalism. I really love photography, but after serving as a sixth-grade teacher’s assistant I thought maybe education in some role was something for me.” 

What would you say to someone considering a profession in education? “I would say it will be the most rewarding and challenging thing they’ve ever experienced outside having their own children. I would also say to always, always keep students at the center of everything and the outcome will always be what is best for students. Knowing that educators are life-changers is so fulfilling and motivating.”

Read more from Godfrey-Lee: 
100 years of Lee High School
Young, older students pair to celebrate bilingualism superpowers

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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