Grandville Public Schools
Shaping the Students of the Grandville Michigan Area for More Than a Century
With innovative options to suit student needs, Grandville Public Schools remains head of the class
Since before the first graduating class walked across the high school stage in 1882, Grandville Public Schools has been a cornerstone of education in the greater Grandville, Michigan area. Shaping young minds from Pre-K to 12th grade, the district goes beyond the traditional classroom setting, offering diverse opportunities at every level.
With a mission centered on lifelong success for learners, the school district has consistently demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence, student safety, and preparing students for a rapidly evolving world.
“It all starts with our mission, which is impacting lives by producing successful lifelong learners,” begins Superintendent Roger Bearup. “We believe people are always learning, they’re always growing. They grow at different rates, they have different ways that they do learn, so we are really in tune with how people learn best. Making a large impact through supporting them and championing their learning is what we’re all about.”
Ensuring Academic Excellence
At the core of Grandville Public Schools’ mission is their commitment to academic excellence. Superintendent Bearup emphasizes the two-fold focus, sharing, “First of all, we want to ensure that each student reaches their fullest academic potential. We know if they do that, no matter what their dreams and goals are, when they graduate and leave us, they’re going to be able to accomplish those because they’re going to know and have the skills to do whatever it is they want to do.”
The second part involves creating an environment where every student feels safe and has a sense of belonging. “We know when kids have that ownership, they’re going to be much more successful,” he maintains. “We’re always focused on those two things, helping each student ensure that they meet their fullest academic potential and that they feel safe, have that sense of belonging, and have the support systems needed.”
The district has implemented robust programs, which begin with the youngest learners, including tuition preschool, great start readiness, and early childhood special ed programs, to provide a solid foundation for students. “We purchased a facility right here in town, and it’s a hub for early learning for Grandville Public Schools. We have a heterogeneous melting pot of early childhood kids and services that take place there,” Bearup depicts.
He adds that the district offers a range of early literacy components, partnering with parents to start students off on the right track. “We look at the early learning phases, as to how those things provide that core of experiences for our preschool students, so that as they move into kindergarten through 12th grade, they have that solid foundation, so they’re prepared for that next level of learning in the journey of school.”
Grandville Public Schools understands that there is a delicate balance between creating a welcoming educational environment and ensuring the safety of students and staff. “The interesting thing about schools is, you want them to be warm, welcoming places for all people within your community,” says Bearup.
“At the same time, you have to have processes, procedures, and protocols that have safety at the forefront. Kids need to feel safe, and parents need to know that their kids are safe when they’re within your building.” Notable measures include the incorporation of school guard glass in new facilities, controlled access, the introduction of vestibules, and ongoing staff training. “We believe that whatever we commit to as a district, we need to have our greatest resource, our people, be able to champion that. So, we’ve hired a director of safety and security, and that’s their job, to champion the safety of everything we do during a school day,” he asserts.
A key element in their safety strategy is the close collaboration with the local police department, a partnership characterized by resource officers within the schools, along with regular meetings and joint planning sessions. Bearup recounts, “Our police department has access to many things that we have in regard to safety and security. The innovations that we have, work hand in hand with us within those partnerships, to help. If there is a critical incident that happens, we are all on the same page on our emergency operation procedures that would take place.”
STEM and STEAM Education
Grandville Public Schools is taking an innovative approach to future readiness, by introducing students to the world of work and potential careers from a young age. Recognizing the importance of early exposure to diverse skill areas, the district has crafted a curriculum rich in hands-on experiences, particularly emphasizing STEM and STEAM activities.
The journey begins at the elementary level, where students dive into the realm of robotics and technology. Bearup acknowledges, “That is such a huge part because as you get a little older, and you get into talking more about careers and skills, it ties in so well. You don’t just read about things and have the ability or the skills to do things, you need those hands-on experiences.” The district is not only committed to exposing students to these experiences but also supports teachers in translating the curriculum into engaging learning opportunities, with instructional technology staff readily available to assist in this endeavor.
Skill-Based Learning and Community Partnerships
Grandville Public Schools actively cultivates skill-based learning opportunities for learners, offering a diverse range of experiences to equip them for future academic and career paths. Bearup highlights the district’s collaboration with the Kent Intermediate School District, providing CTE programs that integrate skill-based experiences into the curriculum, leading to certifications.
Additionally, students can opt for dual enrollment in community colleges, earning credits and even associate degrees within a five-year high school program. “We have kids who take a lot of AP classes, computer science as an example, that provides opportunities, and at the same time, they’re able to capture credits, and by the time they graduate, they’ll have almost enough credits or enough credits that they could have an Associate’s and have a nice boost. Parents love that because it saves money,” he describes.
Bearup shares the district’s commitment to bringing relevant opportunities to students, including partnerships with Kent County for satellite programs. The goal is to eliminate travel time, offering EMT and aeronautics programs with hands-on experiences, and collaborations with businesses for auto mechanics and Mechatronics programs. By expanding these offerings within the district, Grandville Public Schools ensures accessibility and diverse learning opportunities for all students. “Those are right here, so kids don’t have to weigh missing out on something by traveling to our county program. Our county programs are robust, and they’re wonderful, but not all kids are taking them because of that travel barrier,” he says.
Academic and Extracurricular Investment
When it comes to the success of Grandville Public Schools, Bearup remarks, “Our greatest resource is our people. If we’re going to start a program, we invest in people to champion that program and support our kids. We believe in the power of that.” He underscores the district’s commitment to experiences and skills for students, exemplified by the recently constructed $64 million middle school, featuring a pioneering robotics competition center.
“It is the first of its kind, we believe, in the nation, and it’s huge. We have several businesses that have partnered to sponsor different areas in that facility. We have an AI business that is going to be sponsoring the center itself and providing a lot of support along the way.” These collaborations have the benefit of providing students with exposure to industries and potential career paths, keeping them in the community after graduation.
When it comes to extracurriculars, Grandville Public Schools has achievements spanning both the arts and athletics. The district takes pride in its Performing Arts program, showcasing various plays and events throughout the year. On the sports front, Grandville stands as one of the top schools in the area across a diverse range of activities.
“I really can’t think of a sport or an activity where you look at Grandville and say, ‘Oh, yeah, they’ve got a long way to go’. They’re all pretty high-level athletics. On the performing arts side, we have an incredible orchestra, and choir, and our band, year in, and year out is phenomenal.”
As Grandville Public Schools enters a new year, Bearup envisions continued growth in student engagement, relevance, and personalized learning. He emphasizes the importance of adapting to change and learning from challenges, pointing out the lessons taken from navigating the complexities of education during the pandemic.
As for where his focus will be, he offers, “Being student-focused, building connections and relationships, and getting to learn about your students and their backgrounds, their cultures, and how they learn best, is so important. I have high expectations, but high engagement strategies, and we will continue to focus on those things in 2024.”
AT A GLANCE
Grandville Public Schools
What: An innovative district serving 5,603 students from pre-K to 12th grade.
Where: Grandville, Michigan