TK Staff Energized, Encouraged and Thanked During Opening Day Gathering

Superintendent Craig McCarthy thanked everyone for the work they do and outlined goals for the coming year before sending staff off to meetings, professional developments and classroom preparations. 

“Educating students is what we’re charged with by the community and our board of education, student growth and achievement is our goal” he said, reminding all staff of the district mission statement “To encourage and develop the greatest potential of each student.”

“You address this mission every day through your work in the classrooms, hallways, playgrounds, cafeterias, and on our buses. You tap into our students’ curiosity when you engage them; set expectations and help them achieve success as you support them; build their self-confidence; Enable students to persevere and develop grit which builds optimism and a sense of hope for their future. You accomplish this through your work and the examples you set," McCarthy said.

He added, “We want every one of our students to be productive members of society once they leave TK schools. We want them to achieve. We want them to be successful.”

He encouraged staff to build trust within the community and a sense of belonging for all students. He said staff can help do this including all students in our educational process and by respecting all students and all staff and their backgrounds and beliefs. “Let's make sure everyone feels welcome here at TK.”

McCarthy said he’s also excited about community enrichment offerings returning this fall to give the community more ways to interact with the schools and hopes the number of offerings continues to grow.

He also outlined his own goals for this year. He reminded the staff that for the last 15 years he’s been a business manager handling finances and most of last year handling the finances as well as the superintendent role. But this year, he said, he wants to deepen relationships with the community, students and staff. 

“I want to spend more time in the buildings and I specifically want to visit instructional staff and observe as you do the important work of teaching our students.”

School Board President Matt Powers added his thanks to the staff for all the work they do preparing students for their futures. He said the school system is one of the primary reasons his family decided to move to Middleville 18 years ago. He encouraged staff to do their jobs well and continue to grow and challenge students.

“If you work at Thornapple Kellogg Schools, you’re an educator. If you greet students warmly and wish them well, then you are an educator. If you sincerely ask a student how they’re doing, then you are an educator. If you go out of your way to assist a student then you are an educator. If you take time to get to know a student beyond the surface level then you are an educator - the force that is going to continue changing our students and developing their path forward is you. You have the ability. You have the power. And most importantly you have that responsibility in your role and our wonderful district. Fulfill it, check that box and complete it well, then ask yourself what more can I do or ask yourself how can I raise this to another level?”

Annie Halle with the Barry Community Foundation and Craig Stolsonburg with Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation talked to the staff about the role the foundation has in assisting Barry County  communities, schools, and students through grants and programs. Halle said two areas of focus this year are on housing and community engagement.

Stolsonburg talked about the Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation which is under the umbrella of the Barry Community Foundation. The TAEF was started with a $30,000 gift 30 years ago. Today, the fund has grown to more than $2 million. Last year, TAEF awarded $53,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors and nearly $11,000 in grants to classroom needs. This year, he said the  amount available for classroom grants has grown to $14,000.

Lani Forbes of Barry County United Way also spoke with the staff. “I’m so appreciative of everything that you have done. You also help the United Way with supporting families and children throughout the community,” she said. 

Forbes said the United Way assists in many programs to help Barry County families including food initiatives, Imagination Library, Meals on Wheels, 4-H, and many more. This year, she said more than 300 students shopped for back-to-school supplies and backpacks.

TK staff are encouraged to make payroll deductions to assist the Barry County United Way programs.  “You make a huge difference with whatever you choose to participate with,” she said.

Another part of the morning celebration included the introduction of all the new staff  at TK. The new hires include bus drivers, custodians, teachers, and all support staff. After new staff were welcomed, returning staff reaching longevity milestones were also recognized. 

10 Years of Service

Britanny Brown

Amy Forman

Christian Jarvis

Jasmine Koster

Abby Miller

Kate Schut

Amy Wandrie

Kelli Arnold-Wegner

20 Years of Service 

Lori Book

Michelle DeVries

Steve Gabrielse

Shannon Johnson

Janell Krul

Jennifer Reifinger

Sue Tedrow

Jon Washburn

30 Years of Service 

Barb Maring

Cathy Moore

Mark Verlinde

40 Years of Service

Diane Knight