New year, new leader: GRPS’ Ron Gorman shares 2019 goals

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The students of Grand Rapids Public Schools returned to class Tuesday under new leadership.

GRPS Interim Superintendent Ron Gorman took over the post previously held by Teresa Weatherall Neal on July 1, after the board relaunched its nationwide search for her replacement.

“I believe at this time of transition, I can help move the district in the right direction,” Gorman said Tuesday morning.

Gorman told News 8 he’s focused on starting the 2019 school year without any bumps. He said his ultimate goal is to keep the district’s momentum going in improving student proficiency, graduation rates, school culture and atmosphere.

“We’re getting closer to the state average, and not that that’s the ultimate goal. We want 100% of our kids to graduate, walk across the stage and become productive members of society, but we’re really excited about that, so we want that work to continue,” said Gorman.

Gorman says when it comes to improving student attendance, the district needs to be proactive.

“We cannot wait until a student misses 20 days or 30 days… as soon as we notice a student is not getting to school on time, we need to intervene,” the interim superintendent said. “We have a lot of staff members who can reach out to families and make home visits, so it’s really nipping some challenges in the bud early and not waiting until students have many absences.”

When asked if he was interested in taking on the superintendent role full-time, Gorman said he wanted to focus on the district and not himself.

“I think probably any member of Teresa’s cabinet could step into this position and do wonderfully. She has prepared us very well,” said Gorman. “We have had one of the best superintendents in the state to follow for the last seven years, who’s done some transformation work in the school district. So in this interim period of time, I feel that I’m well prepared to move the district in the right direction.”

Gorman says he’s been with the district for 23 years, serving as an elementary teacher, secondary teacher, assistant principal, athletic director, principal and executive director of secondary schools.

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