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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...

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...

Jamie Hosford: A Gentle Giant is Mourned

In the end, it was his loyalty for which he was remembered – to his faith, his family, his beloved alma maters, and to a community whose collective heart both broke and soared in celebrating the life of beloved...
Marcel Price, aka “Fable the Poet,” says he loves working with middle school students because they “are so genuine and honest”

This Fable Speaks Truth to Teens

The setting in itself is quite poetic: a frigid, snowy morning at an independent coffee house in Grand Rapids. Marcel "Fable" Price, or Fable the Poet, as he is known in the Grand Rapids poetry scene, tells his story...

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...

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...

“Typical Kid” with Movie Credits, Agents and a Screen Actors Guild Card

By most accounts, Derek Brandon is a typical kid of 15. He's a freshman at Thornapple Kellogg High School. He's growing out of his clothes, sports just a hint of acne, and likes to swim and play basketball. His mother Shannon...

‘He took the reins, and we moved forward’

Michael Shibler is in his 50th year in education, including 29 as superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. But in a profession not known for longevity, Shibler shows no signs of slowing down

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,...

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...

The Supes

When there's time – and usually there's not – Dan Takens will pilot his car the 10 or 11 miles from his office at Byron Center Public Schools to one of his favorite lunchtime eateries in Eastown. It's there, often...

Lupe Ramos-Montigny: ‘Everyone Deserves to be a Part of Something’

Lupe Ramos-Montigny has done as much as anyone – and perhaps more than any Latina – to advance educational opportunities for children in Grand Rapids and beyond...

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,...

Young Giants on the Move

You'll have to excuse Justice Shoalsand Hannibal Spencer if they appear more as a blur than standing still. It's just that these two young men have so many irons in the fire, they're not comfortable in one spot for...

Sarah Waller: The Tech Center’s Iron Chef

Let it be said here and now – OK, so written here and now – that the raspberry patch in my back yard cannot grow fast enough, and I have a diminutive warrior of a teaching chef to blame. Her...

Dedicated educator retiring after 44-year career, during which “I knew ‘em all”

When the school bells ring and they throw open the doors at Northview Public Schools this coming autumn, it’s likely Dan Duba, principal at Crossroads Middle School, will be elsewhere. For the first time in 44 years...
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