Superintendent's Message

For our students and maybe for us as well, time never seems to go faster than between the end of the school year and the start of the next. I hope that each of you has found the summer to be rejuvenating, whether you stayed at home or were a world traveler.  

One world traveler that many elementary school teachers reference is the work of British author, the late Michael Bond. Perhaps you saw recently that Mr. Bond, who created the world famous Paddington Bear, died in late June at his home in London.  Of course, Paddington Bear, ever polite and ready for adventures, will live on into the future. Paddington, you probably remember, arrived in London after traveling from Peru. There is a great column in the BookMarks section of Education Week about lessons in civility we can all learn from Paddington Bear.

The column writer reminds us that Paddington was not only “immensely likeable,” but he was also unfailingly polite. At a time when surveys remind us that most Americans think manners are sharply declining, all of us at Kentwood, students, and teachers and staff alike, might look to Paddington for tips as we start the new school year:  Be presentable. Acknowledge others. Write thank-you notes... and the Education Week writer offers a few more tips on civility, so check out the article.  

I’m often reminded of the powerful and positive impact that our teachers and staff have on students in our district and community. As we prepare for another year of teaching and learning, here are a few recent highlights.

  • One of our own, Luke Wilcox, who teaches math at East Kentwood High School, was named Michigan’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year in May. Luke reminded us: “The key to success in teaching is building relationships with students and knowing them as individuals.”
  • East Kentwood High School was named an academic state champion, by Bridge Magazine, for the first time. EKHS was also recently ranked the most diverse school in Michigan and 10th in the nation, with students coming from more than 60 different countries and speaking more than 70 different languages. 
  • Explorer, Southwood and Meadowlawn Elementary Schools were all recently named Reward Schools by the Michigan Department of Education. 
  • Brody Conlon, an East Kentwood fifth grader, was chosen to compete in the World Youth Cup in Sweden.  Brody was one of only 12 players selected from across the state to participate. The competition features more than 1,600 teams from about 80 countries.

Just a reminder, this year’s schedule will be a bit different.  Our first day back for all KEA staff will be Thursday, August 17.  Our All Staff Welcome Back Kick-off for the 2017-18 school year will be on August 21.  We will welcome back our students for their first full day of school on Tuesday, August 22.  The opening day agenda and the professional development activities for the first week back are also included with this letter. 

Thank you, as always, for your commitment to our students and the entire Kentwood community. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns or stories of affirmation. Let’s commit ourselves, once again, to positive relationships and high expectations; to being global schools focused on excellence; and to having a growth mindset and “Kentwood” grit. I look forward to working with each of you as we serve the families of Kentwood in the 2017-18 school year!  

Sincerely, 
 
Michael Zoerhoff
Superintendent

Key Points of Pride

Grit:  Our students have the inner strength and intellectual capability to meet and rise above life’s challenges.

Positive relationships and high expectations: Positive relationships provide the support needed to overcome difficult life circumstances.  Positive relationships provide the strength to meet high expectations and tackle what feels like the impossible.  

Global schools focused on excellence: We succeed on an international stage because Kentwood has a global perspective with a commitment to excellence in all that we do.