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Two finalists selected for Forest Hills superintendent job

Forest Hills — After two days of interviews to find the district’s next superintendent, the Forest Hills Board of Education has narrowed its candidates from five to two. Final interviews and a community open house to meet the candidates are set for March 19.

The board extended second and final interviews to Lake Orion Community Schools Superintendent Benjamin Kirby and Mason Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Kinzer. The new superintendent will replace Dan Behm, who retired last year after serving the district for 17 years.

“We were fortunate to have received applications from a highly talented group of individuals, each bringing valuable expertise and experience to the table,” said Dr. Kristen Fauson, Forest Hills’ board president. “After careful consideration, we are thrilled to highlight two exceptional candidates who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership qualities and a deep commitment to advancing our district’s educational mission and creating a vision for the future.”

Benjamin Kirby (courtesy)

Kirby has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Michigan State University, a master’s in educational leadership from Western Michigan University and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Kirby started his career as a sixth-grade teacher for Central Montcalm Public Schools. For 24 years, he served in Ionia Public Schools as a teacher, coach, middle school assistant principal and principal, high school principal and associate superintendent. He was the assistant superintendent in South Lyon Community Schools before coming to Lake Orion, where he has been serving as superintendent since 2020. 

Kinzer has a bachelor’s degree of art in English and secondary education from the University of Michigan-Flint, and a master’s degree in K-12 educational administration and a doctorate in K-12 educational leadership from Michigan State University. 

Gary Kinzer (courtesy)

Kinzer started his career as a high school English teacher for Imlay City Community Schools. For 24 years, he served at Okemos Public Schools as a high school English teacher, middle school assistant principal and athletic director and elementary principal. He was the assistant superintendent of human resources at Novi Community Schools before coming to Mason, where he has been serving as superintendent since 2022. 

On March 19, the candidates will meet with school staff and students, tour portions of the district and visit education spaces and learning environments. There will also be an open house for community members and staff that afternoon from 3-4:30 p.m at the Fine Arts Center, 600 Forest Hills Ave. SE, to meet the candidates. 

The interviews with the board that evening will be at 5 p.m. for Kirby and 6:30 p.m. for Kinzer and will also take place at the Fine Arts Center. The interviews are open to the public.

After the interviews, the board is scheduled to meet to decide on a candidate and enter into contract negotiations, with the intent of having the new superintendent begin on July 1. 

Read more from Forest Hills: 
One for the record books: Team reflects on win
Teamwork made the dream work for first state win

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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