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Tag Archive | "superintendent"

School hires consultant to oversee business office


With former associate superintendent Dave Cairy moving on to another job, Cedar Springs Public Schools has hired Donald Sovey, CPA, owner of School and Municipal Advisory Services P.C., to oversee the business office and spearhead the search for a new associate superintendent of business.

Sovey was introduced to the Cedar Springs Board of Education last Monday, November 9, at its regular board meeting. Sovey introduced Tom Tebeau, of T2 Professional Business Services, who will help with some of the accounting and budget amendments that will need to be done. His services will be billed at $100 an hour.

Besides hiring Cairy’s replacement, Sovey plans to do a long-term financial outlook; develop a proactive financial leadership team; make sure staff  are properly trained and keep them trained; establish fiscal sustainability goals; install best business practices for finances and operations; and more.

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From the Superintendent’s Desk

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Families:

There is nothing more rewarding to me than being a servant leader – here to serve students, staff, parents and this great community.  To that end, I am pleased to share that we, the CSPS educators and support staff, focus our work each day on serving our nearly 3500 students.

The very heart and soul of our work and desire to serve is teaching and learning.  Although I am in school buildings all the time, the last 3 weeks provided an extra special time at our schools as we conducted “instructional rounds.”  Our district office administrators collaborate with building administrators, teachers and instructional coaches to visit classrooms and observe excellent teaching and learning.

Instructional rounds are explained by educational researcher Robert J. Marzano as “…the most valuable tools that a school or district can use to enhance teachers’ pedagogical skills and develop a culture of collaboration.”  We, at CSPS, couldn’t agree more!

I can share with certainty that our fine educators value the instructional rounds as we collaborate around focused data collection, dialogue and self-reflection.  That leads our staffs to setting goals for continued student success.

It has been an absolute joy to be in each of the classrooms we visited.  Our teachers teach with clear intention, consistency in standards and solid strategies to engage students.  Our students are actively engaged in learning and collaboration as they demonstrate skills and concepts they are learning.  Teachers and students alike focus on assessment of learning, which is impressive to witness!

In addition to our educators focusing all work on students, there are countless examples of how our support staff truly supports teaching and learning.  The hard work and dedication they demonstrate in their day-to-day work is clear.  What is not as well-known is the compassion and commitment they give behind the scenes to ensure educators and students are supported in their work of teaching and learning.  At CSPS, we appreciate the collaborative spirit of our highly valued educators and support staff.

I’ll say it again and again, it is an honor to serve as your CSPS superintendent.  Please know I maintain an open door to any and all who would like to talk.  A hallmark of my career has been being approachable to all students, staff, parents and community members.  It’s that servant leadership philosophy that I hold dear in all aspects of my life.  Please do call, write or drop by for a visit at any time.  I would love an opportunity to get to know you and learn how I might support your wishes or to answer any questions you may have about any topic, such as instructional rounds!


Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

Office:  616-696-1204 ext. 1001    Cell: 925-899-3111

Email: laura.vanduyn@csredhawks.org

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Happy with school superintendent


As a follow up to Lyle Perry, Jr.’s comment last week, Superintendent VanDuyn’s letter in the post was outstanding! I am very excited and hopeful about the direction I see her taking our school district. It was also very encouraging to hear the school board members voice their support of Dr. VanDuyn and all she is accomplishing at this week’s school board meeting. As a parent with four children in the district I would also like to thank Dr. VanDuyn, the administrators, teachers, and support staff for the way the lock down situation was handled on Monday. I think you all did a great job, thank you for keeping our kids safe!

Jenny Skelonc, Sand Lake

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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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