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Forest Hills names new superintendent

Forest Hills — The Board of Education Tuesday named current Lake Orion Superintendent Benjamin Kirby as the district’s next superintendent.

“We are thrilled to make an offer to Kirby for the superintendent position for Forest Hills,” said Board President Kristen Fausen in a prepared statement. “… As a united board, we felt that Kirby was a fit with our educational mission, and he clearly is able to articulate a vision for the future, create a culture of collaboration and advance the educational expectations in the classroom and beyond.”

Before the special board meeting, two finalists for the position, Kirby and Mason Public Schools Superintendent Gary Kinzer, visited school buildings to meet with students and staff and attended a community meet-and-greet. 

Benjamin Kirby talks to community members during a meet-and-greet

At the board meeting, each presented a 90-day plan, including how they would acclimate into the district and review initial focus areas.

At the meet-and-greet, Kirby said he is from West Michigan, born and raised in Ionia, and was looking forward to moving back to the area.

“Forest Hills is a great district, certainly exemplary,” Kirby said. “Part of the work that I do currently in Lake Orion is work with high achieving students and high-expectation families. I work in a great district and (Forest Hills) is the type of great district I want to be in.”

Kirby said he values relationships, teamwork and listening to people. 

“This position is a perfect combination for me and for my professional career to continue in an outstanding school district,” Kirby said. “I am excited to lead Forest Hills and look forward to our future together.”

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.

He started his career as a sixth-grade teacher in 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 assistant superintendent in South Lyon Community Schools before coming to Lake Orion, where he has served as superintendent since 2020. 

Benjamin Kirby visits with students during a tour of Forest Hills Northern High School (courtesy)

A board subcommittee will meet with Kirby to finalize a contract with the intent that Kirby will assume the superintendent position on July 1. 

Retired East Grand Rapids Superintendent Sara Magaña Shubel has served as the district’s interim superintendent since former Superintendent Dan Behm retired last summer after 17 years. Behm recently became the executive director of the Education Advocates of West Michigan

Read more from Forest Hills: 
State honors athletic secretary for dedication
Teacher shortage remains a major challenge in Kent County, beyond

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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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