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Tag Archive | "superintendent"

Board chooses firm to lead superintendent search


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education took their first step toward finding a new superintendent when they voted 5-0 in a special meeting Tuesday evening to have Michigan Leadership Institute (MLI) facilitate the search.

The board heard presentations by both the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) and MLI. The costs were comparable from both agencies ($6,500 plus expenses). Gary Rider, regional president of MLI, will lead the search and said his expenses (mileage, copying) would not go over $800 since he lives nearby (Comstock Park).

Rider was a former Superintendent at Thornapple Kellogg, and also worked in the West Ottawa and Kenowa Hills School Districts. He said that MLI is made up of former Superintendents who cover regional districts where they served, so they know many of the Superintendents and/or administrators out there.

Rider went through what process he would use, including an online survey for the staff and community regarding what they wanted to see in a new superintendent, as well as face-to-face meetings with focus groups. From there they would create a profile of what they were looking for. The community would also be involved in the actual interviews by giving written feedback after each one.

He reminded the board that they each represented the entire community—not just a specific segment—and that they needed to get this right. “Your process is critical. If you don’t do this right, a bomb will go off in this community,” he warned.

Rider told the board that there was a reason he wanted to lead the search here—he has a personal stake in it. Rider said he has two son-in-laws who were best friends in school and who both graduated from Cedar Springs, and their families are still here.

“If I don’t get this done right, I won’t be welcome at Thanksgiving dinner,” he remarked.

Board members liked that they met who would lead their search, as opposed to MASB, who would appoint someone. They also liked the passion he showed and felt they could trust Rider to give more guidance.

One area where some of the board didn’t seem quite as comfortable was with the timeline Rider presented. He gave them an estimated timeline of 9 weeks, with selection of a Superintendent mid-June, so as to get someone in place by July. Trustee Traci Slager questioned more than once whether moving that quickly was the best thing.

Vice President Matt Shoffner said he liked the timetable, but that the correct process is huge. “I think there would be some leeway if we wanted to extend it a couple of weeks,” he said. “At the end of the day, if we’re not comfortable with who we get, we can push it back. Or even with community feedback, we can hear and respond.”

Secretary Brook Nichols also said she thought there was some wiggle room on the timetable. “I’d rather take our time and be thorough,” she said.

During public comment time, Sue Wolfe told the board she was happy to hear the open dialogue between the members. She also cautioned the board that with so much going on—board member and administrative slots to fill—that maybe they should slow the process down.

Teacher Libby Metiva also told the board that she was proud to see the way the board interacted, with the tone being light and the comments insightful. “No one monopolized the conversation,” she said.

 In other board news, trustee Tim Bauer, who was appointed in December, resigned his position on the board. He was not attendance, but did send a letter of resignation. The board voted to accept it, 5-0. Treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde was not in attendance.

Bauer had announced late last month he would resign, after public outcry over comments on his personal Facebook page and at the March 26 board meeting condemning those who wanted former Superintendent Laura VanDuyn to resign.

In his resignation letter, he said that it has been both an honor and a challenge to be appointed a board member. “Believing that I have fulfilled in a short time period my calling from God in this position, it has been made clear that I am now to resign.” He went on to quote an article by Craig D. Lounsbrough titled “Consequences: We are the Cause.” He said it encapsulated what he wanted to say. You can view Bauer’s entire letter on our website at www.cedarspringspost.com.

The board has 30 days to fill his position. As of Wednesday, April 11, no announcement had yet been made on when they would start taking applications for it.

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Cedar Springs Superintendent resigns


Many of those demanding the resignation of the Superintendent marched to Cedar Springs High School from the Hilltop building Monday evening. Photo by Aleshia Smith.

by Judy Reed

After several years of complaints from teachers and community members against Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, the Cedar Springs Board of Education voted Monday evening to accept her resignation.

The main complaint was of creating a hostile and toxic work environment, with a turnover of 70-plus employees in the last three years. Several complaints of bullying had also been lodged against her in the past but dismissed by the Board of Education.

Many who had voiced comments against the Superintendent at previous board meetings felt the board was not listening or did not care. That fueled a movement that recently grew in the community to get their voice heard.

A sea of red shirts sporting the logo “#ResignVanDuyn” filled the auditorium at Cedar Springs High School before the regularly scheduled board meeting Monday night. Many also held signs with the same logo. The group, made up of parents, teachers, and other community members, had come to demand that either the board put the Superintendent on immediate leave pending an investigation, or that they negotiate with her to resign. They also had petitions for the recall of three board members.

Some supporters of the Superintendent came with signs that read “B kind to VanDuyn.”

Signs in support of Superintendent VanDuyn. Post photo by J. Reed.

As the board members filed in at the start of the meeting, one person was conspicuously absent: Dr. VanDuyn.

Board president Heidi Reed announced that the Superintendent had been excused from the meeting. After making some introductory statements about the board, they made a motion to go into closed session to discuss “a personnel matter.” After more than an hour of deliberation, they reconvened and made a motion to accept the resignation of Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Cheers filled the auditorium as the motion was announced. The vote passed 5-1, with Board trustee Tim Bauer the lone no vote. Trustee Shannon Vanderhyde was not present.

Bauer, who was appointed earlier this year to fill an empty seat, said he felt it was wrong. He noted that many of those wearing the red shirts had probably went to church on Palm Sunday. He then compared them to the angry mob that had crucified Jesus when they didn’t get their way. A Facebook post by Bauer Tuesday morning speaking of judgment on those that wore the red shirts caused more furor and scrutiny by law enforcement. He later announced on Facebook he would resign at the next board meeting.

Board Vice President Matthew Shoffner gave one of the most heartfelt speeches from the board. “I hoped for something better and that has not come about. I hoped for unity and I hoped for this community to be brought together. That is still my hope. I hope that we can do this together,” he said.

Katy Austin, one of the founders of the “Cedar Strong” movement, was one of those thankful that the board finally heard their voice. “I’m incredibly thankful to each and every person who helped the community be heard. I’m excited for the future and I can’t wait to see our kids soar,” she said.

Dr. VanDuyn will remain at Cedar Springs through the end of the week. An announcement from Board President Heidi Reed said VanDuyn would also continue as an ad-hoc consultant through June 30, 2018. 

Reed noted that the Superintendent still has many supporters in the district.

“During her almost four years with our District, Dr. VanDuyn’s leadership has blessed our district with talent and new ways of thinking while challenging us to rise to a higher standard.

“Dr. VanDuyn’s top priority has always been the children and creating the best environment to promote academic growth and development. Her exceptional beliefs and leadership built a strong foundation for our journey to excellence. The board is thankful for Dr. VanDuyn’s dedication and service to CSPS and we wish her well in future endeavors,” she said.

The board appointed Mark Dobias, former superintendent of Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) and Fennville Public Schools as interim Superintendent. He is scheduled to start on April 9. “Our strong building leadership coupled with his operational background will assure a seamless transition as we begin the search process for a permanent replacement,” said Reed.

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Rude comments and spending money


 

We attended the Cedar Springs School Board Meeting on March 26 and made several observations.

Our first observation came when the school board president Heidi Reed stated that the school board pays an outside consulting firm (from Ohio) for school policies. While it might be common practice to pay a consulting firm for crafting of school policies, is it the best practice? How much of the community’s money was spent on this out-of-state consulting firm? We believe that our local school policies should be determined by those who live here, not in some other state. We have no problems with getting ideas and inspiration from any and all sources, but community members should determine our local policies. How about having a public forum with debate and discussion of what policies we would like to have in our local school district? We can see what other communities are doing, but this is our school district, serving our children, and our community. If our school board members are unwilling or unable to make policies that fit and form our local community, perhaps they should not be serving on the board.

We got the impression that Ms. Reed was attempting to absolve herself and the board from having any personal responsibility for unpopular policies.  

Over the past several years, public comments and statements made by board members and the superintendent seem to reflect a view that spending public money is good. Instead of focusing on results or finding the best value for taxpayer dollars, the board and superintendent appeared to try to solve problems by spending money.

We were also shocked and offended by comments made by board president Reed and board trustee Tim Bauer. Ms. Reed made a comment that seemed to be a personal attack on those members of the community that spent their own money, time and resources on yard signs and t-shirts. She said that she wished that effort had gone to supporting the kids who are going to The Odyssey of the Mind competition. The audience reaction to her statement was shock, immediately followed by comments. At that time, another board member demanded that the audience “respect the board president.” The audience should respect the position of board president, but the board president should respect members of the audience and community as well. While she’s entitled to her own personal opinions, we feel that this comment was inappropriate. 

We had serious concerns regarding Trustee Tim Bauer, but those are now moot since he announced his resignation.

The board approved paying an interim superintendent $600 per day plus mileage. We would like to see how that figure was reached and the rationale behind it. Is this the best value for our tax dollars?

As a final thought, perhaps we should consider adding another board member. This new member would be elected by and from the district’s teachers to provide direct representation of those who teach our children. The new position could either be a full voting member, or an advisory member depending on statutory and regulatory requirements. 

Chris and Emily Scott

Solon Township

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Staff and others share reasons for wanting Superintendent to resign


By Judy Reed

Over 500 people filled the meeting room and foyer of Solon Township Hall Thursday evening to hear the personal stories of both current and former staff and board members of Cedar Springs Public Schools and how they have been affected by the policies of Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Several of the speakers were in tears as they told their stories in public for the first time, despite fears of retaliation.

VanDuyn was hired to be Superintendent four years ago, but a movement within the community to get her to resign or for the board to give her a vote of no confidence has been steadily growing. An online petition has garnered just under 1,900 signatures, and paper petitions with signatures will be presented at the next Board of Education meeting on March 26.

Mary Graf, an elementary teacher for 41 years, said she has worked for seven superintendents and several principals over the years. She said there would always be change, but also there has always been mutual respect and collaboration with the administration. She remarked that now there is no collaboration, and that teachers now feel repercussions if they don’t completely agree with something or question anything. She said that happened to her last spring during a PLC on reading. There was a lot of tension in the room, and she said she tried to clarify how the teachers were feeling. The next week she received a letter from her administrator saying she had been unprofessional. Graf said her administrator had not even been in the meeting. When she met with him about it, he told her he was forced to write the letter.

Jan Wallace

Former board member Jan Wallace spoke about consultants, noting that the district had spent $300,000 over 15 months. “Do you wonder why our district has to consult outside experts so often?” she asked. Wallace added that $115,000 of that was spent on the Orange Frog program, “which teaches the staff to learn to be happier.” She felt they could have used that money on the deteriorating roads on campus. 

Wallace explained that when she was on the board, they looked at privatizing busing, and met with the staff to talk about it. “This board didn’t do that. They had a consultant come in to help,” she said.

Former board member Ted Sabinas talked about being locked out of the meeting on privatization of transportation; the fact that once he was on the board, staff and administrators told him they were not allowed to talk to him; and that all three elementary principals, two assistant principals, and the athletic director had all left in the last three years. He also noted that the Superintendent received a 3 percent raise while the staff did not receive a raise.

Joan Boverhof

Long time teacher Joan Boverhof spoke about the relationship between the teachers and administration eroding. She said that the board, administration and teachers union used to work together as a team but that was not happening now.

Teacher Brett Burns, who also president of the teachers union, said the union has been trying to repair the relationship with the board but they aren’t listening. He likened it to a child coming to him and saying he was being bullied and him ignoring it, and then the same thing happening again, and him not doing anything about it. “I am begging,” he said. “We are hurting. When are you, the community, and the board going to acknowledge that we are human?”

Secretary Mary Gardner was in tears as she shared an ordeal she faced about being forced to administer shots. She steadfastly refused, as she has a fear of needles. It was something nurses used to do. She finally got a lawyer involved.

Teacher Erin Cairy spoke about taking leave just before school started. She said the administration never reached out to her. Although she emailed a letter to be sent to the students who were supposed to be in her class and their parents, it was never sent. She also emailed asking how she could help the new teacher, but that went unanswered. She said she returned this year, and many questions she’s asked about programs, such as iready, have been taken as being negative.

At one point during the meeting, moderator Todd Norman asked the group how many were hearing these stories for the first time. Almost half the room raised their hand.

Teacher Libby Metiva said that the board of ed has said things that have wounded, but they have also been manipulated. “How can we help them? All of you are influencers. I’m asking all of you to help empower and influence the board members to take back Cedar Springs.”

Superintendent VanDuyn gave the Post a statement about the petition. 

“As superintendent, it is my promise to the community to make the best decisions I can to ensure our students have an exceptional educational experience while keeping our district financially stable. Our students should have a top notch school system to develop and grow. I am saddened by this petition as I am fully committed to making CSPS the best place it can be. My daily motivation and priority continues to be serving the students and families of CSPS.”  

To watch the entire video of the community meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68xfuX_Ulsw&feature=youtu.be

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Teen defends Post newspaper, will miss prom


 

Peyton Elliston

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs High School senior Peyton Elliston was upset a few months ago when Cedar Springs Public Schools stopped distributing the 150 copies of the Post to the school buildings without notice. The Post and the school later negotiated to drop fewer papers there, but Petyon said she still isn’t seeing it at the high school.

Last month, Peyton put together three packets of information, along with a Post that she hung in the bathrooms in the senior hallway. The cover page said that “the transportation office was directed by the superintendent to abstain from distributing the newspapers any longer. This is nothing short of an attempt on control and censorship. While I understand that many people have resorted to using the Internet to access the daily news, the Cedar Springs Post is still a relevant collection of the significant events taking place in our community. We reserve the right to have access to the town newspaper within our schools, and we will not let one woman prevent us from keeping up with the stories surrounding Cedar Springs.”

The cover letter was accompanied by anonymous comments from students and community members.

Peyton and her mom Tami met with Assistant Principal Anne Kostus on the issue. According to Tami, they made an agreement that Peyton would take a one-day suspension for “insubordination” though there is nothing on that in the handbook. She said the agreement was that she would still be able to go to prom if she behaved. Students who are suspended cannot normally go to the next dance.

Tami said the insubordination came from the fact that the week before, Peyton had asked a lunch employee if she could put something on the tables (a paper) and was told she had to get permission. She didn’t put the papers out.

While Tami and Peyton thought the ordeal was over, she said she later got a phone call from Kostus saying that she should not have told her Peyton would be able to go to prom. It wasn’t fair to the other students.

Tami said the change came after the petition came out to ask the Superintendent to resign. Tami is one of the backers of the petition.

Peyton, who has a 4.0 average and will go to Michigan State for pre-law, said she would do it again. “It’s censorship, you can’t censor the students’ material,” she said.

In last week’s Post, Board President Heidi Reed made the statement “Just as our students do not sacrifice their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse doors, our individual Board members retain their individual rights as citizens when they volunteer to serve our school community,” when she was speaking about statements made on a board member’s personal Facebook page. Peyton’s dad brought that up when he met with Kostus, but was reportedly told it didn’t apply to Peyton, because she didn’t ask permission. But was also told if she had asked, it wouldn’t have been given. He has contacted the ACLU regarding Peyton’s right to free speech.

The Post reached out to Kostus to confirm the story or give a comment, but said that she couldn’t discuss the discipline of a student due to the privacy act.

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School board bits


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education heard several presentations Monday evening, February 26, and heard from several people during the public comment time. We will cover a few of them here and continue next week.

Reading Now Network

The board heard from Dr. Barb Johnson and several teachers about the success of the Reading Now Network program and the implementation of the I-ready program. According to Johnson, several years ago reading scores in Michigan were falling. So two to three years ago, Kent County Superintendents looked at 14 schools that were doing well in reading. They narrowed the list down to five, then looked for the threads that were common in all the districts that helped them do well. They then joined with other districts and got a $12.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Education in November. 

All the children now have chrome books and are working on the I-ready program. Most are required to read 45 minutes daily on it during the school day. And there are fun games to help assess how they are doing. Since using the I-ready program, reading scores in most all elementary grades have improved greatly from last fall to this January. You can see the entire presentation on the board meeting video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ADR-JOiEwo&feature=youtu.be.

Public Comments

The board heard comments from several people Monday evening. The heard first from Tami Elliston, who said she’s had children in CSPS for 12 years. She said she has waited for three long years for the board members to act on multiple complaints from community members, current and former staff members, students, and other board members regarding Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. Elliston spoke about a recent issue of between the school and The Post regarding distribution on the school campus and the school page no longer appearing in the Post. (It’s now in the Advance.) She also mentioned that the Post binds all the papers into a book each year, and presents it to the Cedar Springs Historical Society, and now those school pages will no longer be a part of Cedar Springs history.

Elliston asked why the Hilltop admin building was given a secure entrance before buildings that house students. She also brought up the manner in which an investigation against a teacher was recently conducted. She asked the board to remove the Superintendent before she causes anymore damage to the community.

Teacher Virginia Valentine expressed concern about the lack of a Dean of Students, and there only being one principal for 1,000 students when one of the two are gone.

Katy Austin, of Solon Township asked the board to hold a no confidence vote on the superintendent. She reminded them who they work for, and who they serve—the public. She said that when Dr. VanDuyn was hired, she (Katy) was excited, but the change has went 180 degrees in the other direction. She noted that educators are leaving, and the ones that stay are afraid to speak up for fear of repercussions. “I’m here to give a voice to the voiceless. There is something wrong and it is your job to make it right. It isn’t a witch hunt or a good old boys club being bitter that their guy didn’t get the job. It is me pleading with you to do something! Even if only 10 percent of what I said is true it’s enough to finally take action,” she said.

Band Director Adam Borst shared about the band trip to Disney World.

Sue Wolfe asked about what they were changing in the board operating procedures, and asked a question about the data on the citizen survey.

You can see the entire board meeting video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ADR-JOiEwo& feature=youtu.be.

Next week: Citizen Survey

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Cedar Springs hires four new principals for elementaries


From L to R: Carol Franz (Cedar View); Tricia Shenefield (Beach); Beth Whaley (Cedar Trails); and Miranda Latimer (Red Hawk). Courtesy photo.

Kids returned to school on Tuesday, September 5, and those in kindergarten through fifth grade were welcomed by new principals at each of the four elementary schools.

“Each of the principals come to us with great education and experience and will fit well with our dynamic team of students, families, staff and administration,” said Dr. Laura Vanduyn, Superintendent.

The school supplied the following information on each principal:

Our new Cedar Trails principal is Ms. Beth Whaley. Ms. Whaley comes to us as an experienced principal, most recently at an early childhood and Kindergarten center. Prior to that she served as Early Childhood Director and Specialist at the ISD and district level. She was a GSRP leader and Parents as Teachers assistant and teacher. Ms. Whaley comes to us with awards from both Michigan State and University of Michigan (Summa cum Laude at both as well as Magna cum Laude at MSU in her undergraduate work). Beth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Beach principal is Ms. Tricia Shenefield. Ms. Shenefield comes to us as an experienced principal for many years in Grand Rapids Public Schools. Prior to that Ms. Shenefield was an assistant principal and a teacher. Ms. Shenefield shared in two interviews that she loves data. She has co-authored curriculum, served as a math teacher leader and implemented PLCs. Tricia and her staff are an accomplished team that had the highest ELA M-STEP proficiency among 13 K-5 schools in GRPS. Ms. Shenefield holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Cedar View principal is Ms. Carol Franz. Ms. Franz comes to us with several years experience as a 5th-8th grade school principal. Prior to that Ms. Franz was a Program Coordinator for 21st Century Programs, MTSS District Coach, Discipline Coordinator and teacher. Ms. Franz has been instrumental in implementing several initiatives such as PBIS, MiBLISI, and Response to Intervention. Ms. Franz has presented at the state level and has received many awards, such as the Make a Difference Award (student nominated) for several consecutive years. Ms. Franz holds a Bachelor’s degree (MSU highest honors), a Master’s degree in teaching, an Education Specialist degree in school administration, and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Red Hawk principal is Ms. Miranda Latimer. Miranda is not new to CSPS as she is well known for being an outstanding teacher of our wonderful CSPS 4th and 5th graders for 15 years. However, she is new to Red Hawk and wilI certainly know many 6th graders as she had some of them in class! Ms. Latimer was the “Leader in Training” last year at Beach Elementary School. She was instrumental in working alongside a mentor, Dr. Barb Johnson, (a National Blue Ribbon School principal and a Michigan Top 10 Schools principal) with staff and students to implement the Reading Now Network (RNN). The RNN is a highly sought, research-based Michigan initiative that is effective in improving reading and literacy at the elementary level. Ms. Latimer proved her skills and talents as a leader in training and will now be a building principal. She will apply her many years of experience with the upper elementary level students to our focused and unique 6th-grade site. Ms. Latimer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Administration and Leadership, and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

“Please join me in a warm Cedar Springs welcome to our principals,” said VanDuyn. “I know you’ll enjoy meeting them and working with them this year. I welcome you, in advance, to this school year; it’s going to be another great year!”

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Creative Technologies Academy names new 6-12 principal


Jennifer Colin, new 6-12 principal for CTA.

Creative Technologies Academy, 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, completed a search and announced the appointment of Jennifer Colin as the new principal of grades 6-12 of the Ferris State University-authorized public school academy.

Ms. Colin begins her new position July 26. The opening was created with the departure of Mrs. Carrie Paddock, the principal administrator of curriculum, assessment, and instruction for all grades. Paddock left CTA on July 1 after twelve years as a teacher and administrator to pursue an administrator/instructional coaching position with Choice Schools, a charter school management company. CTA is restructuring the responsibilities of its administrative team with this transition. Dan George remains as Superintendent/School Leader. Former Dean of Students, Autumn Mattson will assume the title and responsibilities of K-5 Principal and Colin will be the 6-12 principal.

Superintendent Dan George believes Colin’s experience in leadership in one of the most successful public school academies in the state makes her well suited for this position. “We are excited to welcome Jennifer to fill the 6-12 principal position,” shared George. “We had four strong finalists for this position. Jennifer comes to us from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science where she has served for 14 years, most recently as the interim Secondary Principal for the last year. Jennifer received the Power of One Award from WMAES in 2012 as ‘the employee who goes above and beyond her position, is an inspiration to others, reaches out to the community, and is respected by peers, students, and families.’ She brings a broad range of educational experience and knowledge to CTA.” Colin initiated and established a CTE program in cooperation with Davenport University to provide the opportunity for WMAES students to gain college credit and facilitated Advanced Placement courses to that school’s curriculum.

Colin’s credentials include a Bachelor of Psychology from Taylor University, a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley University, a Master of Education in School Counseling from Grand Valley State University, and a Master of Arts in School Principalship from Central Michigan University. She holds a K-12 School Administrator Certificate, a School Counselor License, and a Master’s Social Worker Clinical and Macro License from the State of Michigan. She has also received specialized training in the Future Leaders Institute.

Jennifer had this to say about joining the CTA family: “I believe all children have the potential to achieve success. It is our job as educators to work with students and their families in providing the opportunity and help that they need to learn, grow, and become young people who contribute in making our world a better place. Creative Technologies Academy shares this important mission. I chose CTA because they are passionately committed to investing in the lives of children by offering a whole-person approach to education which values developing the minds, character, and self-concept of its students.”

Ms. Colin is married to William Colin, and they have one son.

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Missing principal and son found dead 


George Heckman

A missing elementary principal and his adult son were found dead in a vehicle in rural Montcalm County on Tuesday, June 20.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, their deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide.

George Heckman, 52, the principal at Pewamo Elementary, part of the Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools District, was reported missing Monday after missing a 7 p.m. board meeting. The district lies in both Clinton and Ionia Counties, and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office led the missing person’s investigation.

Heckman and his son, Grant Heckman, 28, were found in a van on a dirt two-track off of Tow Road, near Boyer Road, in Bushnell Township. Michigan State Police East Lansing Crime Lab assisted members of the MSP Lakeview Post with processing the scene.

Police said that preliminary autopsy results revealed that both George and Grant Heckman died of gunshot wounds and evidence indicates that George Heckman’s wound was self-inflicted.

Grant Heckman reportedly had cerebral palsy and was wheelchair-bound.

Besides serving as principal at Pewamo Elementary, George Heckman had also been special education director there, and was vice-president of the board of Austin’s House, located in Westphalia, whose mission it was to “develop and provide secure long-term residential services responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities,” according to the group’s website.

Heckman was also due to become Superintendent of Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools in 10 days, when the current Superintendent leaves for Allendale Public Schools.

The case is still under investigation.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


 

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Family:

On Tuesday, May 2, voters throughout Kent County will consider the Strong Schools, Strong Communities proposal, a 10-year, 0.9 mill increase for a regional enhancement millage that would allow local school districts to strengthen our future workforce and develop and attract strong talent right here in West Michigan.

If approved, the proposal will allow local districts to:

  • Expand career training and technical course offerings that will give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers.
  • Give students exposure to the world of work and business with partnerships that prepare them for careers.
  • Give students living in poverty a good start, and surround them with the support needed to keep them in school.

By law, if this proposal is approved, every penny generated from this proposal will be distributed to local school districts to maintain existing programs and improve services offered to students.

At Cedar Springs Public Schools this proposal would generate an estimated $723,000 per year.  In alignment with the purposes above, our district will focus on these priorities:

  • Continued expansion of the Early Middle College program and access to other college and career opportunities
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Academics and Behavior
  • Professional Development for continued best practices in instruction and student support
  • Enhanced afterschool and summer school learning opportunities
  • Comprehensive Counseling and Mental Health Programs
  • Technology Infrastructure and software enhancements
  • Maintaining or lowering class sizes
  • Improved assessment tools

Please share this information with your friends and family so they are informed about what’s on the ballot Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Learn more at: strongschoolsstrongcommunities.com

Have a relaxing and enjoyable spring break!

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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