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Brightening the Lives of 4th Graders

Even though the sun has officially launched summer, I still see Stephanie Gerdes standing at the helm of her 4th-grade classroom inside Kenowa Hills' Central Elementary School. I am thinking how lucky are the kids she's just promoted to...

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...

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...

“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...

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...

Placing Students with Special Needs in Real-World Jobs

You can learn only so much inside a classroom, especially if you're a young adult with special challenges. At some point, savvy educators say, you need to bust out and immerse yourself in the real workaday world. Joe Carlon and Michael...

Giving ‘Til It Helps: Tough Upbringing Inspires a Life Devoted to Serving Children, Families

John Matias was late for our interview, but something told me to hang in there. I'm glad I did. "I'm sorry, I apologize," he said, after breaking through the door of Wealthy Street Bakery, where I sat with a cold...

Universal Forest Products Engineer John Kozal Mentors GRPS Students

When people who know John Kozal consider the touchstones of his life so far, these are the elements that rise to the surface: Driven by faith, loving father, dedicated dad, conscientious worker, long-time relationship with the Boy Scouts of...

Mr. Bill: From Student to Superintendent, and Everywhere In Between

Godwin Heights Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff gets it.  He knows what it’s like to be a principal, for instance, because he was one. He understands the challenges faced by teachers, because he was one of them, too. And he knows what it’s like...

Chef Mo Nourishes Students with His Expertise;

I am driving home from a morning spent taking notes about the stellar food service program at East Kentwood Public Schools, and you might think my thoughts are revolving around the delicious garbanzo bean salad I ate, or the...

This Time Last Year: Ten-Year-Olds Start Fourth Year of Giving

Remember when you were 10? For a lot of us, life revolved around only a couple of things – simply playing outdoors, for example, and maybe trying to squirm out of homework. But for a half-dozen young ladies who...
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