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There’s No Reining in This Student Leader

Once upon a time, there was a little girl of just 4 years old who lost her foot in a tragic accident involving a power lawn mower. And because of those grisly circumstances, you'd be forgiven for assuming that she...

Stepping up to Eleven

At Grandville Middle School a while back, they lifted up a beautiful bunch of Somebodys. But these six seventh- and eighth-graders weren't elevated for their grade-point average. Nor their athletic prowess. Nor how they might contribute to band or choir...

She’s a Champ, and So’s Her Guide Dog

Duncan LaGrand is a regular in Joan VanDyke's algebra class, yet on more than one occasion has been known to not only fall asleep, but snore his way through the entire lesson. He even drools a little. But nobody's kicking him...

Tony Bonofiglo: ‘We Are All Different in Some Way’

Well, kids, I hate to break it to you, but while some of you sigh your way through another summer, wondering how to occupy your time and who's going to be the next person to help you up, don't...

Shiza Shahid: Empowering Girls & Women Around the Planet

"What is it," she asked, almost in a whisper, "that you plan to do with your wild and miraculous life?" And in that moment, you could almost glean flickers of light emanating from the members of her young audience, more...

Health Advocate Jean Jilote: ‘Always Smiling, Always Available’

It's not two minutes into our interview, and already health advocate Jean Jilote is shedding tears. It's not that she's suffered some recent loss or experienced pain or trauma. She's just so in love with her kids that the thought of...

Le Tran: Teacher, Artist, Inspirer and Dragon

Le Tran is trying to arrange the start of her AP Art class when three young men bound in, seeking chocolate. Normally, there’d be some available, part of Tran’s stash that she’s peddling to benefit the National Art Honor Society,...

Fred Reusch: Teacher, Tutor, ‘Coolest Man Ever’

The story you're about to read is about a high school math instructor, written by someone who can barely add single digits. But in the course of professionally observing people and human nature the better part of 40 years, trust...

Friendships Break Down Barriers

I have pretty good recollection of who I sat with in the lunchroom during both my elementary and high school years, I can say with some certainty – and shame – that it wasn't any kids with special needs. So...

Hayley Lee: Student ‘On Fire’

Before? Well, before, Hayley Lee was, by her own admission, a little sassy, too disrespectful, and variously disconnected -- unless you include some unsavory elements that were leading her down un-righteous paths. And today? Well, you got a minute? Hayley Lee has discovered...

One Pebble, 25-Year Ripple and Counting

I think too many of us misunderstand or take for granted men and women who serve as school board members. We sometimes dismiss them as a bunch of suits pontificating from ivory towers, concurring with the superintendent's every whim. Or,...

Konarska Twins Leave Double Legacy

You could spend a lot of time perusing the resumes of identical twin brothers Kevin and Keith Konarska, who retire at the end of this month as Superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District and Grand Haven Area Public Schools,...

Student Baristas Add Math, Social Skills to their School Menu

It's not even yet 8 a.m., and already, it's a honeycomb of activity inside Mandy Acker's second-floor classroom. But the dozen or so students buzzing about aren't studying just one subject. Instead, they're engaged in a hybrid class that simultaneously teaches...

Mentor Program Empowers Students and Adults Alike

Gay Van Otteren levels his 85-year-old eyes directly at you and then says this: “The greatest gift that you can give to one another is your rapt attention to their very existence.” The room grows quiet. Heads nod in agreement. And the beautiful...

Runnin’ Rebels Encourages Teamwork and Camaraderie

Forget everything you've ever read or heard about the so-called "loneliness of the long-distance runner." At Lee High School, you'll find a unique running club in full swing, an after-school fitness party where students and staff are invited to come...

Athlete, Academic, White House Advisor: Leighton Watson

Ladies and gentlemen, keep your eyes on this young man. I’ve been wrong before, but something tells me the name “Leighton Watson” will surface down the road in more ways than one, and possibly in a manner that eventually makes...
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