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Tri County’s Cumings a  candidate for top spot at Northview


 

Five candidates, including the current superintendent at Tri County Area Schools, were selected by the Northview Public Schools Board of Education to interview as potential replacements for Superintendent Michael Paskewicz, who will retire from Kent ISD on June 30, 2015.

The candidates are Roger Bearup, assistant superintendent of the Lowell Area Schools; Allen Cumings, superintendent of the Tri-County Area Schools;  M. Scott Korpak, assistant superintendent of the Forest Hills Public School District; Thomas Livezey, superintendent of the Oak Ridge Public Schools; and Cherie Vannatter, superintendent of the Manchester Community Schools.

J. Michael Washburn, an independent consultant for Kent ISD and former superintendent of the Forest Hills Public School District, is assisting the Northview Board of Education in the superintendent search process. He also helped Cedar Springs in their search for a superintendent last year.

Bearup is to be interviewed at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 14; Korpak, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 15; Cumings at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15; Vannater at 6 p.m. Friday, April 17; and Livezey at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17. All interviews will be held in the Northview High School Media Center. Following are short bios for each candidate:

Bearup has led Lowell’s curriculum development, assessment and educator evaluation, among other things, since 2006. He was previously an elementary principal in Kent City, where he began his career as a second-grade teacher. He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Western Michigan University and a bachelor’s in education from Central Michigan University.

Cumings has served his entire career in the Tri-County district, starting as a physical education teacher in 1998 and serving as successful men’s and women’s basketball and softball coach, a biology teacher, elementary principal, curriculum director and superintendent since 2011. He holds a master’s in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University and an undergraduate degree in education from Calvin College.

Korpak began his career in the Forest Hills Public Schools, where he served as a teacher, district science coordinator and principal before leaving to serve as superintendent of the Hamilton Public Schools for two years. He returned to Forest Hills as assistant superintendent of instruction in 2010. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

Livezey was appointed superintendent of the Oakridge Public Schools in 2009 after serving as curriculum director and assistant superintendent in the district since 2004.  He previously served in several teaching and administrative roles in the Godwin Heights Public Schools. Livezey has a master’s in educational leadership from Michigan State University and an undergraduate degree from Olivet Nazarene in Kankakee, IL.

Vannatter held administrative and special education administration positions in the Saline and Manchester districts prior to becoming the superintendent of Manchester Community Schools in 2011.  She began her career as a special education teacher in Saline in 1984.  She holds a master’s in early childhood from Eastern Michigan University and an undergraduate degree in special education from the University of Michigan.

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New superintendent impressed with community pride


 

Dr. Laura VanDuyne

Dr. Laura VanDuyne

By Judy Reed

 

It’s now been five months since Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a Detroit, Michigan native, and her family moved from California to take over as Superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools. For them, she says, it’s like coming home.

“We love the cold weather, the snow. We longed for that—the seasons, the culture, the friendliness,” she explained. “We’ve been here five months and never looked back. It almost feels like you never left.”

VanDuyne was born in the suburbs of Detroit and graduated from Memphis High School, which is about 60 miles north of Detroit. So the west side of the state is new to her, but not to her husband, who grew up in Jenison, and remembers participating in the Red Flannel Marching Competition and marching in the parade in high school. In fact, she said he had grandparents who owned 40 acres on Myers Lake Road near 14 Mile—Roy and Elizabeth Reynolds.

VanDuyne said she met her husband eight years ago, after getting her doctorate. They had always planned to come back to Michigan; but after they had their two children—Izzy and Vance—she said they started making a concerted effort to get back here—where the grandparents are. “I had checked out the district, and it looked like a location we’d like to be. So when the opening came up, I threw my name in the hat and never expected to get the call, but I did, and here we are! It’s an amazing place,” she said.

After graduating from Memphis High School, VanDuyne went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she also taught. She then came back to the Midwest and received her masters in education administration from Minnesota State University, and a post-MA in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. She was also a teacher and principal there. From there she moved to the San Francisco bay area, where she earned her doctorate degree from the University of San Francisco. She was a full-time principal there, and for the last four years, was executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority. “That’s similar to an Intermediate School District superintendent,” explained VanDuyne. “I was responsible for overseeing 16 school districts—10,000 students—in regard to special education, such as funding and other things.”

So how does that compare to being Superintendent of a 3,800-student district? “That’s the fun part of being here,” responded VanDuyne. “I always wanted to be a superintendent and I knew I wanted to be back at the local level,” she explained. And she hasn’t been disappointed.

“The board, the staff, the community, the parents are all working towards a better future for our kids. It’s such a close-knit community, and they are so proud. We have great innovative teaching, and the support staff is totally invested. It’s all about the children, and that is energizing for me,” she explained.

She noted that she is also impressed by the level of heartfelt interest by the Board of Education. “It’s all about the kids. I have not seen agendas, and that has left an impression with me. They have had to make some tough decisions.”

While some on the Board of Education thought it might be a large learning curve for her, coming from another state, VanDuyne said that hasn’t been the case. “This is the third state I’ve been an administrator in; making those changes are not difficult. They all have similar tenets, with some nuances in local legislation,” she noted.

VanDuyne said the biggest thing she has focused on is getting to know the teaching and support staff—faces, names, what they teach, etc. She said she likes to meet with every individual and get to know them. “That’s been wonderful; I’ve learned so much,” she remarked. “That’s where I’ve gleaned pride in the community.”

VanDuyne said she is big on input and grassroots information gathering. An example of that was the recent selection of a website vendor. She said they wanted something that would highlight the district, yet be easy to use for parents and staff. They had 30 employees and citizens from all areas of the school system—all people who would use the website—and had them watch four presentations from web vendors. They then selected the vendor, without input from either VanDuyne or Asst. Superintendent David Cairy.

“When you can bring bright minds together that’s powerful. They will do more, they will buy into it,” she explained.

VanDuyne also wants residents to know that her door is always open for them. “I answer my own emails, and take my own calls. I want a personal connection,” she explained. “I value face to face discussion—a handshake. I want to hear your concerns.”

VanDuyne said their family is enjoying being here with friends and family, something they have long looked forward to. And she noted that the community doesn’t need to worry about her going anywhere anytime soon. “I plan to be here a long time, to become an integral part of Cedar Springs and Red Hawk pride.”

 

 

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Cedar Springs Schools and GRCC partner to form Middle College program


Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

By Judy Reed

 

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn and Grand Rapids Community College President Dr. Steven Ender signed a letter of intent Monday evening to create the Cedar Springs Middle College for fall of 2015.

Under the program, freshman with at least a 2.5 GPA will be able to apply for the program, which would begin in their sophomore year, and provide the opportunity for them to earn both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree in five years. The student will graduate high school and also earn an associate’s degree, without spending any money towards tuition.

It’s just the third program of its kind in Kent County. GRCC also partners with Wyoming, and Davenport partners with Kenowa Hills High School.

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Utilizing dual enrollment/early college status, these students will continue to acquire high school credits toward graduating with a Michigan Merit Curriculum diploma, while also completing requirements toward an associate of arts degree. To do this, students will take fewer classes toward high school completion and more toward their college degree in each subsequent year. Due to the uniqueness of acquiring both certifications, the program would take an additional (fifth) year of high school.

Dr. VanDuyn said she was proud of the district’s students, of whom 72 percent go on to post secondary education, the same as the national average. But she said this program could be a big change for our community, noting that the program has about a 95 percent success rate of those going on to get their four-year degree.

Dr. Ender noted GRCC is celebrating 100 years of post-secondary education, and this is currently a program wave happening in post-secondary education. “It’s a price you can’t beat. You are clearly on the right track. And your students will definitely get a university education,” he assured the Board of Education.

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Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed retires


 

Superintendent Ron McDermed

Superintendent Ron McDermed

By Tom Noreen

 

From theatre major to superintendent, Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools Ron McDermed, has dedicated his life to the education of our children. As a threatre major at Western Michigan University, Ron visited local schools during improv performances with fellow thespians. His experience working with students inspired him to change majors and pursue a degree in education. A decision he has not regretted in his 40 years of teaching and administration.

“I would absolutely do it again, no question,” he remarked.

Upon graduation from WMU, McDermed taught at Portland for twelve years and then applied to be the principal at Fowler where he was for three years. He has been with the Cedar Springs Public Schools district since 1989, serving as an elementary principal from 1989-1997, and then as associate superintendent over curriculum and instruction from 1997 until 2009, and Superintendent from 2009 to 2014.

McDermed said he had no intentions of competing for superintendent when Andy Booth retired, as he had no aspirations for the position in any school. However, then School Board President Carolee Cole convinced him that he should put his name in the hat and try.

McDermed said his biggest challenges were working with the State to understand local issues, especially economic ones during the past five years.

As to accomplishments, Ron said, “We have come together as a school system of continuous learning and collaboration. We have professional learning communities with coaches to help. As a result, the school has developed a culture allowing it to be a better school district.”

McDermed went on to say, “I have been blessed with a wonderful staff and administrative team.”

His most memorable events are graduations as students, staff, and families celebrate the culmination of 13 years of growth and learning.

He has been a great asset to the school and the community. Through his leadership, the budget is balanced, improvements are being made to the infrastructure, and the school’s relationship with the community and local organizations is great.

McDermed has been active in Rotary and is the current club president.

He has no definite plans for the future other than to spend more time with his family and dust off some neglected hobbies, one of which is painting.

McDermed’s wife, Irene, taught in Lowell for many years. Their daughter, Alina, is a medical doctor working for Spectrum Health in Fremont. Their son, Michael, lives in California, where he works in music production and photography.

“We have loved Cedar, being a part of it,” said McDermed. “It is a great town with great people.”

 

 

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Farewell, But Not Good-Bye


 

Ron McDermed, Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent

It is hard to believe we are at the close of the school year.  As you are probably aware my days are numbered here at school.  My last day of work will be June 23rd.   Although I am excited about all that is to come, Cedar Springs schools will always hold a special place in my heart.  Both of my children graduated from Cedar and the community has been our family home for over 25 years.  So many great people that I feel privileged to have known and worked with…I will miss you all!

 

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School board approves new superintendent contract


The Cedar Springs Board of Education tabled the contract for their incoming superintendent Monday evening, but made changes and approved it 6-0 in a special meeting Wednesday evening, April 16.

Concerns in the contract included putting a cap on moving expenses and clarification on the contract period.

The board selected Laura VanDuyn Ed.D., of California, late last month. To replace retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

VanDuyn is executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority, a cooperative program providing special education services for school districts within the region. The Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority is located in Concord, approximately 22 miles northeast of Oakland, CA.

According to the contract, VanDuyn’s salary will be $147,000 for the 2014-2015 year; $149,800 for 2015-2016; and $152,796 for 2016-2017. She will also have 25 days of paid vacation. The contract also specifies up to $8,000 in paid moving expenses.

VanDuyn was chosen from among five candidates interviewed by the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board as potential replacements for retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

The other candidates were Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, a finalist in the interview process; Gibraltar/Shumate Middle School Principal Brad Coon; Boyne Falls Public Schools Superintendent Karen Sherwood; and Hudsonville Human Resources and Assessment Director Scott Smith.  They were selected from a pool of 15 applicants.

VanDuyn has served as executive director of the Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority from 2010 to the present.  She held a variety of administrative and leadership positions at the site, district and county levels from 2001-2010, and was an administrator in Minnesota from 1999 until moving to California.

She holds a doctor of education degree in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco, a master’s in education administration from Minnesota State University and a bachelor’s in education from the University of Nevada.

“I’d like to convey my appreciation to the many staff and community members who took the time to come to the meetings and share their thoughts,” said Board President Brook Nichols.  “This was a very difficult decision because … the candidates brought different things to the interview and both (VanDuyn and Cairy) were very qualified.  Ultimately, the majority of the board felt that Laura VanDuyn would be a great leader for our district.”

 

 

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School board hires new superintendent


red hawkBy Judy Reed

Associate Superintendent David Cairy received a standing ovation from 200 staff members, parents, and community members after his final interview Wednesday evening, but he didn’t get the votes from the Board of Education.

Instead, they voted 5-2 to hire Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a candidate from California, who has ties to the area and was looking to move back to Michigan. She has served as Executive Director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010.

The decision angered and saddened many who were present for the interviews.

Trustees Shannon Vanderhyde and Jeff Gust were the two dissenting votes.

The board had the public fill out feedback forms after the interviews and turn them in, and the board sifted through them during recess. They then took a straw poll to see where they stood.

Vanderhyde said that she was saddened by the direction the board seemed to be moving in. She said that one of the comments on the feedback form stuck with her, that Laura would have a big learning curve. “I don’t want my three kids to have a big learning curve,” she said. “I want them to have the best of the best. With Dave, we can start tomorrow.”

Trustee Todd Hanson said he didn’t think there would be a huge learning curve, noting that staff would still be there doing a great job. “And if not, then maybe they are not as loyal as they say,” he remarked.

The remark brought a big boo from the crowd, and several people walked out.

Vanderhyde questioned why they bothered to get the feedback if they weren’t going to use it.

Trustee Joe Marckini said he must’ve gotten different feedback than Shannon, and that he was out talking to people. And if people didn’t like his decision, they could recall him.

Trustee Patricia Eary thought an outsider would bring a fresh perspective. President Brooke Nichols said she had a gut feeling about Van Duyne the first time she interviewed.

Those who voted for Van Duyne—President Brooke Nichols, Todd Hanson, Patricia Eary, Matt Shoffner, and Joe Marckini—all had good things to say about Cairy, but seemed to feel that Van Duyne had the skills to move the district forward.

Shoffner remarked that he felt the two of them working together—Van Duyne a global thinker and Cairy a detailed thinker—would make a good team.

After the official vote, the silence in the room was deafening. Trustee Shannon VanderHyde dissolved into tears.

Some members approached the board and thanked them for their work, while others left the room or talked quietly among themselves.

A committee will work on contract negotiations with Van Duyne, and then bring that back to the board for approval.

 

 

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Five chosen to vie for Superintendent spot


The Cedar Springs Public Schools Board will interview five candidates next week—including current Assistant Superintendent David Cairy—as potential replacements for retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

The candidates are Assistant Superintendent David Cairy; Gibraltar/Shumate Middle School Principal Brad Coon; Boyne Falls Public Schools Superintendent Karen Sherwood; Hudsonville Human Resources and Assessment Director Scott Smith; and Laura Van Duyne, the executive director of a special education consortium in Concord, California.

The candidates were selected from a pool of 15 applicants.  First round interviews for Coon and Smith will be held at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on March 17; Sherwood and VanDuyne at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on March 19; and Cairy at 6 p.m. on March 21. Second round interviews are scheduled for March 26.  The public is invited to attend the interviews, which will take place in the Hilltop board room.

Following are short bios for each candidate:

David Cairy

David Cairy

David Cairy was named Cedar Springs’ assistant superintendent in 2007 and has led a variety of educational initiatives as well as serving as the district’s chief financial officer. Before joining the central office administrative team, Cairy was principal at Cedar Trails Elementary and a teacher at the Jefferson Elementary School in South Redford. He holds a Masters in K-12 administration from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Grand Valley State University.

Brad Coon

Brad Coon

Brad Coon has been a principal in the Gibraltar district since 2004 and was an assistant principal at Algonac High School from 2002-04. He has also served as an alternative education consultant at Oakland Schools and a teacher in the Orchard View and Fruitport districts.  He holds an education specialist degree from Oakland University, a master’s in education from Grand Valley State University, and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University.

Karen Sherwood

Karen Sherwood

Karen Sherwood was named principal of the Boyne City Middle School after serving as a teacher in the building for 14 years prior to her 2010 appointment as the superintendent in Boyne Falls.  She holds a master’s in education leadership from Grand Valley State University, a master’s in early childhood development from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan at Dearborn.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Scott Smith was a middle school principal and assistant principal in the Hamilton district from 1995-2011 before joining the Hudsonville district in his present position.  He holds an education specialist degree from Grand Valley State University, a master’s in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Western Michigan University.

Laura Van Duyne has served as executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010 and held a variety of administrative and leadership positions in the Antioch, CA, system from 2003-2010.  She holds a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, a master’s in education administration from Minnesota State University and a bachelor’s in education from the University of Nevada.

 

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Cedar Springs to start Superintendent search


Superintendent Ron McDermed

Superintendent Ron McDermed

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education began input sessions this week from various groups in the community as they start their search for a new Superintendent.

Superintendent Ron McDermed will retire in July, after serving 25 years in the district. He was hired as an elementary principal in 1989, and served in that role until 1997, and then as associate superintendent over curriculum until 2009, when he was chosen as Superintendent to replace outgoing Superintendent Andy Booth.

The Board of Education voted to use the services of the Kent Intermediate School District, and consultant Mike Washburn, former Superintendent at Forest Hills Public Schools, to run the search.

The board met with community members prior to Monday night’s board meeting, and with several other groups this week at various school buildings. They would like input from parents, staff and community members in what they value in the Superintendent’s role. If you have not yet had a chance to attend one of these sessions, they will meet on January 20 with the Cedar Springs Education Association in Conference Room B at Hilltop at 6:30 p.m., and again before the regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on January 27.

You can also email questions and input to the various board members. Find the board members and their email addresses at http://www.csredhawks.org/board-education/meet-our-board-members

 

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Superintendent announces retirement


Superintendent Ron McDermed

Superintendent Ron McDermed

As you may be aware, our Superintendent Ron McDermed, has announced that he is retiring at the end of this school year. We are grateful to him for his many years of service to the education community and are sad to see him go.

As we begin the process of hiring a new Superintendent, we would like to have input from staff, parents and community members to see what they value in that leadership role. Feel free to attend upcoming Board of Education meetings or e-mail any board member with your thoughts.

Thank you! 

Brook Nichols, School Board President

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