Once short of credits to graduate, now an advocate for student success – School News Network

Kent CIO—Ron Gorman believes that every student can accomplish what he sets his mind to, and said he often said this to his own students.

These words came back to him when he read in a press article that one of his first students had become a doctor.

“‘You never know when a scholar is going to pick up a nugget you put out there,'” Gorman said. She took something positive that was said one day and she referenced it when she received her (diploma).

After serving Grand Rapids Public Schools for 25 years, Gorman joined the Kent ISD team this summer as the new assistant superintendent of instructional services.

Superintendent Ron Koehler noted that Gorman’s history with the larger Kent ISD district brings deep experience working with historically marginalized populations to increase student performance and graduation rates.

“We look forward to his leadership, especially as we work to overcome lost learning from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Koehler said.

Ron Gorman is excited about new opportunities as Kent ISD’s new Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services

Champion for the Underdog

Gorman said he always rooted for the underdog. In fact, he’s a longtime season ticket holder with the Detroit Lions because he truly believes that “one day they’ll make Michigan proud,” he said with a smile.

He holds the same belief among students, often among those who don’t have credits to graduate. He does this, he says, because he was that student.

Gorman came to the United States in 1979 from Glasgow, Scotland with his mother. Like her grandparents and aunt before them, her mother was looking for better job opportunities. He entered Godfrey Lee Elementary School when he was 5 years old. His first school experience was “pretty good,” he recalls, but in middle school he got distracted.

“I was the young man in the building with behavioral issues, and those behavioral issues…carried on through high school. I found myself as a senior in high school having to rack up a huge amount of credits to even graduate on time.

He made up for those missing credits in night school and graduated from Lee High School in 1991. He credited former football coach Ted Hollern for instilling confidence, and the former teacher and then principal of Lee High School, Pete Foote, who Gorman says was the first. no one to tell him he should go to college.

“I believe in a growth mindset. I don’t think that’s a catchy slogan, I really believe that when we… face adversity, if we dust ourselves off and try again, I think our chances of succeeding are great.

– Ron Gorman, assistant superintendent of instructional services at Kent ISD

He quickly discovered that he didn’t like working in manufacturing and wasn’t ready for college, so he joined the army. He served for eight years as an Equipment, Records, and Parts Specialist, where he dispatched vehicles to soldiers, using that time to think about what he wanted to do with his life.

“Even though I didn’t do well in high school, I always felt very comfortable in school,” Gorman recalls. “So I decided when I got out that I was going to go back to Grand Rapids Community College and then I was going to hopefully transfer to a school that had an elementary curriculum and become an elementary school teacher. That was my goal.”

He would earn a Bachelor of Education from Aquinas College and land his first teaching job as a second-grade teacher at Grand Rapids Eastern Elementary School.

Gorman would continue to grow as a teacher, moving to Iroquois Middle, then as an administrator, serving as athletic director and principal at Grand Rapids Central High, and principal at Sherwood Park Global Academy and Creston High.

While serving as principal at Creston High, Ron Gorman enjoyed working with students, helping them graduate.

“When we focus on things”

Gorman considers his time at Creston one of his most rewarding. He said Creston was a school that had never made adequate yearly progress before, a measure used by the US Department of Education to determine student performance under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Three of the four years Gorman served as principal, Creston was able to meet or exceed state academic standards.

“I believe in a growth mindset,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a catchy slogan; I really believe that when we focus on things and don’t give up in the face of adversity… When we face adversity, if we dust ourselves off and try again, I think our chances of succeeding are great.

“I’ve seen many academics over the years who have thrown in the towel and they quit, and I’ve seen academics over the years who failed, reflected, made adjustments, and eventually achieved their goals.”

His success at Creston led to Gorman being hired to become executive director of the high schools GRPS, then assistant superintendent. During his tenure, GRPS improved its graduation rate from 44% to the state average of 80% over a 10-year period.

It’s time for something new

Due to leadership opportunities from former GRPS administrator Ed Shalhoup and Superintendent Teresa Weatherall, Gorman was selected as acting superintendent in the last GRPS superintendent search.

“It was very tempting to apply for the job, but I decided not to at that point,” he said. “I have a young family, my wife is an educator, and it just wasn’t the right time to be a superintendent.”

Gorman had no intention of leaving the GRPS, he said, but once the district had a new superintendent and things returned to some normalcy amid the pandemic, he saw that it was time for something new.

“After my 25th year, I still have a ton of energy. So what’s next?

In his new role at Kent ISD, Gorman found the opportunity to explore different educational programs in Kent County, such as Early Childhood, Vocational and Technical Education, Kent Career Tech Center and [email protected], which all report to the assistant superintendent of instructional services. .

“I don’t think there’s been enough emphasis on CTE, and it’s an incredible and viable option for our academics,” he said. “With Early Years, I can see in this role what happens to students before they enter the traditional pre-K-12 curriculum, and with the CTE experience, I can see them at the end of the journey. .”

He has already gotten off to a good start by forming the student leadership community. Comprised of students in grades 9-12 from across Kent County, the aim is to hear directly from them and help shape the programming.

He is also planning a ‘state of the student’ event in October to share what is happening at Kent ISD and the Middle District’s strategic plan, as well as to hear what community members think needs improvement.

Like his mentors, Gorman believes that educators are there to encourage students to succeed, even and especially when they are ready to quit.

“I’m not here because I think about it exclusively. I’m here because someone else helped me think about it.

Ron Gorman began his career as a second grade teacher at Eastern Elementary School in Grand Rapids

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