The Grand Rapids Public Schools' number one goal is to improve student achievement. That message is delivered loud and clear in our Strategic Plan and School Improvement Process. Everything we do as a district must support student success in the classroom. Although achievement can be and is measured in many ways, we know that parents and the community want to see success in standardized tests. We have increased our support for our teachers by reducing class size and directing additional resources into the classroom to help them teach and to help students learn.
The Grand Rapids Public Schools is operationally divided into four smaller area districts in order to improve accessibility to services and accountability for results. Each area is supervised by an assistant superintendent who works right in the schools, not in a central administration building. Now, when parents need answers or teachers need support they don't have far to go to get it. The red tape has been eliminated and the communication channels are simple.
One of the best things about an urban education is the diversity it offers to students and families. We reflect our richly diverse community. The cultural heritage that is brought into our schools is invaluable. Our students are taught respect for difference and tolerance for people who may look or act unlike them. They grow stronger as students of a global community do and their lives are enriched by sharing experiences. This prepares them well for the college experience and/or the work world.
4. Character Development
Our schools offer students the opportunity to excel in academics - reading, math, writing, spelling, computer literacy, etc. The learning doesn't begin or end with the textbooks, however. Behind our mission is an emphasis on character development. We expect the best of our students, not only as learners but as part of our community. We teach our students the importance of respect for others, respect for themselves, honesty, fairness, self-sacrifice, and integrity. These personal characteristics are valued in the Grand Rapids Public Schools just as they are in the Grand Rapids community.
5. Athletics & Extracurricular Activities
Grand Rapids is a sports town. We support semi-professional teams such as the Grand Rapids Hoops (basketball), the West Michigan Whitecaps (baseball), and the Grand Rapids Griffins (hockey). Sports are an important addition to the quality of our life. Fortunately, the Grand Rapids Public Schools is able to offer a full range of athletic and extracurricular activities to both boys and girls.
6. Community Support
What makes the Grand Rapids Public Schools different than most other large, urban school districts is the level of support it receives from the community. The community wants its public schools to succeed and it is willing to step in and do what it takes to make this happen. Our Strategic Plan, our road map to the new millennium, was established by community members and educators working together.
7. Special Education
The Grand Rapids Public Schools continues to offer one of the most comprehensive, quality special education programs in the country. Families with children with special learning needs come to Grand Rapids from other communities just because of these outstanding programs. The range and scope of these services is impressive and the community support for these programs is heart-warming.
8. Citywide Schools
In addition to neighborhood schools, the Grand Rapids Public Schools also offers families the choice of citywide schools which enroll children from throughout Grand Rapids. These schools offer the core curriculum with special focus on a theme or a particular teaching and learning method, such as Montessori.
Technology can be dazzling - and a little intimidating for some of us. In the Grand Rapids Public Schools we see technology as a valued tool to help us accomplish our mission - to help students become educated, self-directed, and productive members of society. Our staff is trained to guide their students' use of computers and the Internet as a resource.
Although we pride ourselves on offering the choice of neighborhood schools to families, still, in a city the size of Grand Rapids, approximately 18,000 of our students ride the bus to and from school each day. An additional 2000 students ride the bus to athletic contests and other extracurricular activities.