GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - When Teresa Weatherall Neal became GRPS Interim Superintendent in January, she embarked on what she called a listening tour. In her State of the Schools address Saturday, she outlined goals for the district and programs that will be changed.
Neal, who took over when Dr. Bernard Taylor left, credited teachers and staff for their dedication, and pointed to the things she believes are working: technology, positive reinforcement and community partnerships.
"The only reason we exist, the only reason, is that we educate children. That's what we do best in Grand Rapids," she told the audience at Ottawa Hills High School. "We have some of the best partners you've ever worked with, and many of you are in this room."
In her 20-minute speech, she outlined her goals for the district: academic achievement, professional development, a positive culture, collaboraion and accountability.
But she also discussed programs that will either be changed or eliminated: blended learning, delayed grading or "H" grades, and Hub electives.
"Our students should not have to get on a bus to go across town to take and elective course. That is not right."
Teachers union president Paul Helder touched on the positive change he's seen since Weatherall took over for Taylor.
"We need to work together. We need to become a family again, and that's everybody the whole community," he said.
Questions from the audience ranged widely: discipline, dress code, quality hiring and bullying. Weatherall promised to be consistent, fair and firm.
Parent Quentin Henry said he thinks if the district "can continue to move in that direction and hold adults as well as kids accountable, I think we'll see a great difference and impact in our school."
Everyone's priority and focus, Weatherall said, should be the children of Grand Rapids Public Schools.
"We want to give the gift of education to every child in this district," she said.
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