Area Wide Series



Issues in Education

We take a look at some of the broader issues facing schools in West Michigan and beyond.  Read the whole series

Statewide Study Shows True Cost of Educating a Child

What’s the actual annual baseline cost of educating a student to proficiency in Michigan? At minimum, nearly $2,000 more than we’re spending now, according to a newly released study that exhaustively examines school funding in Michigan

Districts Scramble to Find Bus Drivers

Area schools are experiencing the nationwide shortage of bus drivers, putting transportation departments in a pinch to get students on the bus in the morning and back home after the final bell at a reasonable time

‘Communities are Going to See Repercussions’

GRPS and other school districts in Kent ISD are responding with alarm to the proposed $9.2 billion in cuts to the U.S. Education Department budget, which is now being taken up by Congress. Among its many effects on local school districts

‘The Culture Has Changed’

After being placed on a list of low-achieving schools in 2010, the district's high school swung into action. Now, some of its practices are being studied as models of improvements for other districts. From its lowest point in the 14th percentile

Education Nominee Generates Concerns And Hopes for Future

As someone who taught for 25 years, is the daughter of teachers and married one, Mary Bouwense’s life has been steeped in public schooling. So she was appalled when President Donald Trump, in his inaugural address

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Words of the World: Learning Foreign Language

A series focusing on the importance of teaching language in an increasingly global culture.  Read Words of the World: Learning Foreign Language

District Explores Building Bilingual Program

Educators are hoping to capitalize on a major strength many students in the majority Hispanic district already have: bilingualism. The district is exploring the possibility of starting a dual-language program in preschool next year

Two Teens Learn Each Other’s Language, and More

In late June, Eryn Schell left her small community along the Thornapple River to live in Shiga Prefecture, Japan for nearly three weeks. Eryn traveled nearly 24 hours with a cohort of peers from the Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange Program

Bridging the Talent Gap

To maintain a thriving economy, students need to be prepared for high-demand, well-paying jobs, yet there are currently more jobs than skilled workers to fill them. This series will look at how schools are preparing students for the future workforce:  Read Bridging the Talent Gap

Wanted: More Than a Few Work-ready Graduates

Let's talk about a glaring example of the disconnect between the workforce and the pipeline of students who will soon enter it. Last spring, Kent ISD, in partnership with local school districts, area manufacturing representatives, and GRCC

From Construction Class to Happy Homeowners

Talk about being invested in your students' work. After students spent last school year building a house through the East Kentwood High School residential construction class, Principal Omar Bakri bought it


GRPS_Morse_1_thumb.jpgRockstar Teachers

There's just something about certain teachers that draws students to them in droves and keeps them checking in years, even decades later. Here, we highlight some of these rockstars of the classroom. Read Rockstar Teachers

She Collects Books, and Lets Students Choose Them

English teacher Katie Sluiter's Wyoming Junior High classroom is a testament to the power of words, in the books eighth-graders eagerly grab from her library and in the writing she did to get those 1,000 popular works onto her shelves

After Auto Industry, He Chose ‘Noble Career’ of Teaching

David Staublin has been known to poke fun at his diminished hearing. Having grown up in Charlevoix, he said, he attended "a lot of concerts" at Castle Farms, a '70s and '80s mecca for rock 'n' roll. "And I think I remember some dad jokes when we were doing mechanical energy"

TK2Farts_series_cotton_band_5_thumb.pngState of the Arts: Learning's Overlooked Ally

Educators have long recognized the value of music, art, drama and writing for students' creative development and academic success. Yet the arts remain squeezed by tight budgets and test-driven performance standards. This series highlights efforts to protect and promote school arts programs:  Read State of the Arts

Portraying History Through Art

Freshman Daniel Zawodny can tell you about a courtyard confrontation between artistic rivals Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. And while freshman Brock Sweezie admits he’s more into modern art than that of the Renaissance

Necessity, Not Luxury

Art teacher Amber Warren sees the difference in students who have had experience in art and those who haven't. The latter have little faith in their artistic abilities, she said. "They are not confident." After offering art at reduced levels due to budget constraints


Special Education SeriesReaching Every Child: What's New in Special Education

A series on special education in Kent County. School News Network will take readers into classrooms around the area to shine a light on new approaches to teaching students with physical and mental disabilities.  Read Reaching Every Child

Grant Brings Sex Ed Instruction to Students with Special Needs

Eighth-grader Bryan Galvez aptly summarized the consequences of healthy versus risky decisions when it comes to teens and sex. “Would you rather have a baby or reach your goals?” he asked. Healthy relationships, pursuing dreams, abstinence, and having accurate information

‘A Chance to Have a Meaningful Life’

Dutton Elementary School second-grader Daniel Donaldson uses pictures and words on his talker to say what he needs to say. "The device gives me the chance to participate with the rest of the class and share the things I'm doing over the weekend"


Hidden Pain: Bringing Youth Mental Health Out of The Shadows

This series focuses on students' mental health, the sources of their distress, and how schools and communities can help. Read Hidden Pain

Typical Teen Stuff or Serious Mental Health Issue?

To help students differentiate between typical teenage troubles and serious mental health issues, Sheri Gilreath-Watts convened a panel of experts recently and moderated a conversation about some of teenagers' biggest problems

A Friend’s Message on Suicide: ‘This is For Real’

Before the opening credits to a film about suicide, freshman Noah McGee took the stage at Cedar Springs High School to share his painful, personal experience with such tragedy


Places of Refuge

This series focuses on refugee students and their journeys, their new lives and hopes for a future in West Michigan, and the many ways schools and community organizations are working to meet their needs.  Read Places of Refuge

“Am I in America, Really?” Refugee Students Leave Terror Behind, Look to Future

Gloria Tungabose's eyes flash as she tells of her father, killed in Burundi. Her mother's ethnicity was Tutsi and her father's was Hutu, and the two groups were engaged in a bloody civil war. Her mother, Butoyi, was arrested

Thanks to English Tutoring, ‘I Can Learn a Lot of Things’

Tutoring from Ann Hoffman, has been crucial for Rose Sanreta, who could speak no English when she arrived here from Pakistan nearly two years ago. “She helps me a lot,” said Rose, a sophomore, in her family’s small apartment

GRPL_Sponsor_with_series_image.jpgThe Road To Reading

Proudly sponsored by the Grand Rapids Public Library, this series explores some of the many reading activities you'll find in our schools, difficulties students may face while learning to read, as well as early childhood ties to literacy and new initiatives to help all children read. Read The Road to Reading

Reading initiative shows early positive results

Where there is a problem, there is a solution. So when scores indicated that many Cedar Trails Elementary students would not meet state of Michigan reading guidelines, the school implemented a Reading Now Network program customized for its students

Librarians Ready to Share ‘Joy of Reading’

Chelsea McCoy dives headfirst into imagination: wildly, enthusiastically, getting right on the floor with youngsters. It’s clear she wants to help them cultivate a love of reading. McCoy asks a lot of questions: about the last book they read, their hobbies

Linh_Le_3_thumb.jpgStudent Leaders

A series dedicated to students that go above and beyond to serve their school, peers and community. Read Student Leaders

Tireless Go-getter Makes Her Community a Better Place; Dreams of a Brighter Tomorrow

Maria Aguirre likes to help other people's dreams come true: making sure a child has presents wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning, doing her part to fund cancer research, helping distribute grants to organizations doing good

Getting it All on Film and Dreaming Big

If you want to know a bit about David Tay and the pride he takes in his school, watch this video. It’s a lip-dub he filmed of the high school last spring, a catchy cavalcade of students dancing, running up and down stairs, blowing bubbles, striking frozen poses


Poverty_Series_Promo_thumb.jpgThe Burden of Poverty: A Backpack of Heartache

A series on poverty in the schools and how it affects students’ learning. We examine the problems poverty creates for students and their families and the schools and strategies that are helping disadvantaged students succeed. Read The Burden of Poverty

Report: Are We Caring for Our Children? Not Well Enough

When Carol Paine-McGovern sees child poverty continuing to rise in Kent County, she takes some comfort in the work local schools and their communities are doing to relieve its burden on students

Wanted: A House We Can Afford

Dawn Broene is well aware of the challenges of finding affordable housing in the Lowell area. Breone, director of Flat River Outreach Ministries, said the organization's social worker hears from three to five families a week who are having trouble


Grads With Grit

A series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Read Grads with Grit

Shooting for the Top

Donnie Alford owns his past with a perspective on where he comes from, where he is today and why it all matters that seems mature beyond his 18 years. The Wyoming High School senior, who graduated June 1, tells his story with the precision and detail

Undaunted by Disease, Staying the Course

Standing in a hall of Sparta High School, Steven Sevarns wore a smile that might suggest he wasn't headed to class that day. He had finished his last lessons before graduation, and all but the ceremony was behind him


Making Math Add Up

A series on the difficulties students have learning math, and what methods some schools and teachers are using with success. Read Making Math Add Up

Planning an Outdoor Classroom, for Real

Three classrooms, a memory bench and a sidewalk. Those are elements in ninth-graders Diamond Johnson, Madisyn Rogers and Jamya Sanders’ design for a greenhouse-themed outdoor addition to their school

Profiting from Basic Math

Though some may think it's crummy, 10th-graders Madalyn Austin and Rebekah Hoyle said The Snacky Sleeper is the perfect lazy-evening, popcorn-munching luxury: a "comfortable, supportive memory foam pillow" with a pouch for snacks


Educating Migrant Children

A series about the migrant student population and how teachers and administrators work together to serve them. The series focuses on Kent City Community Schools and Kenowa Hills Public Schools. Read Educating Migrant Children

‘The Goal is to Keep Them Reading’

Second-graders Leonel Santiago and Carlos Saldana hit an exciting benchmark this fall: They started reading their first chapter books. Besides helping them learn the important time concepts of "first, next, after that and finally," said Bonnie Biggs

Journaling, Imaginations Make Waves of Summertime Learning

This was the first summer Spanish Elementary teacher Lorin Sorenson drove to a handful of migrant and Spanish speaking fourth- and sixth-grade students' homes to forge one-on-one relationships with them and their parents


At Recess: An Occasional Humor Column

At Recess takes a lighter look at schools and education. Funny things sometimes happen when you work with kids -- or adults! Read At Recess

Math, Fun? With Creative Teaching and Baseball, Anything’s Possible

Math and I have never been great friends. Oh I can get along with math all right when I have to, like when I try to figure out how much less per ounce I am paying for a 12-ounce box of Cheerios compared to an 8.9-ounce box

Attack of the Whole Grain Pop-Tart

Always smiling. Always kind. Always helpful. These are the lunch ladies. But behind their smiles is a smirk. This salt-of-the-Earth crew has pulled off a covert operation few have noticed. The mission? Stick whole grain into everything