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Superintendent announces retirement; successor named

Kent ISD — At its Monday meeting, the Kent ISD School Board accepted the retirement of Superintendent Ron Koehler and announced Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent Ron Gorman as his successor.

Koehler will retire June 30 and Gorman is set to assume the position July 1, contingent on contract negotiations. Gorman served as interim superintendent while Koehler was on medical leave for several weeks in late 2023 to early 2024. 

“The Kent ISD School Board and staff of Kent ISD appreciate the outstanding leadership that Koehler has given during his tenure as superintendent,” said Andrea Haidle, Kent ISD Board president. “He has made ‘We Lead Learning’ (a Kent ISD slogan) a reality, and we will miss his devotion, enthusiasm, and outstanding skills as a leader.

‘It has always been my goal to the best of my ability to make Kent ISD the best professional experience for anyone who joins us, and we have accomplished a lot in the last three half years and I know this group will put me to shame in what they will accomplish in the next round.’

— Kent ISD Superintendent Ron Koehler

“We also welcome Ron Gorman as Kent ISD’s next superintendent. He has shown his capacity for this position serving as interim superintendent earlier this year, and the board looks forward to his leadership.”

Koehler joined Kent ISD in 1996 as director of communications. In 2010, he was named assistant superintendent of organizational and community initiatives and legislative affairs, a position he held until he retired in 2019. During this time, his work and leadership resulted in many innovative initiatives for the schools and the community, including the development of School News Network.

His retirement was short-lived. In 2021, the board asked Koehler to serve as interim superintendent as it conducted a search for a new superintendent. Unsatisfied with the candidates, the board asked Koehler to serve as superintendent to provide more time to search. Koehler took the assignment with plans that it would last for one year. That morphed into three and a half years.

During Monday’s meeting, Koehler said that being at Kent ISD has been the best, most rewarding and fulfilling of his professional career. 

“It has always been my goal to the best of my ability to make Kent ISD the best professional experience for anyone who joins us, and we have accomplished a lot in the last three half years and I know this group will put me to shame in what they will accomplish in the next round,” he said.

Since Koehler became superintendent, Kent ISD:

In March 2023, Koehler announced to the board that he would retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. Concerned about the number of superintendents leaving or retiring from the profession, according to the March 18, 2024 board resolution, the board discussed a succession plan. 

Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Ron Gorman has been named Kent ISD’s next superintendent

Koehler hired Gorman as assistant superintendent of instructional services in 2022. According to the resolution, the board offered the superintendent position to Gorman after hearing “glowing” remarks from Koehler about his performance.

“Gorman did a masterful job serving as the interim superintendent during my medical leave and will do an excellent job as your superintendent,” Koehler said in a memo to Kent ISD employees announcing his retirement.

Before coming to Kent ISD, Gorman served Grand Rapids Public Schools for 25 years, with his first teaching position at East Leonard Elementary. Gorman served in a number of positions at Grand Rapids Public Schools, as a teacher at the elementary and secondary levels, a high school principal, assistant principal and athletic director and a K-8 principal. In the administration, he served as executive director of secondary schools and assistant superintendent. He also served as interim superintendent when former superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal retired in 2019.

In his current position, he focused on programs such as early childhood, career and technical education, Kent Career Tech Center and MySchool@Kent. 

After the board meeting, Gorman said being assistant superintendent has been “absolutely wonderful” as he has enjoyed connecting with local districts and working with the various programs. It was during Koehler’s medical leave that Gorman said he discovered he wanted to take the next step as he enjoyed leading Kent ISD.

“My goal is to keep the good work going,” Gorman said. “I’m sure there will be a time after a year or so being in the seat where there will be maybe some shifts, but quite frankly, we’ve got good people. We have incredibly talented teachers, phenomenal kids. I love the relationships we have with our local school district. So therefore, let’s just continue to make it better.”

Read more from Kent ISD: 
Once short on credits to graduate, now an advocate for student access
Teaching: Lowering barriers, encouraging passion

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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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