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GRPS Superintendent celebrates success in annual State of the Schools address

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal speaks at the state of the schools address.

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal delivered the fifth annual State of the Schools Address on Thursday, May 4. Weatherall Neal spelled out the myriad of successes—both big and small—that the school district has experienced since she took the helm in 2012. Most of all, she encouraged community support. "Stay with me. Stay with the district. Stay with these children," she said.
This past Thursday, GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal addressed the community at the fifth annual State of the Schools Address. An event of celebration and a wealth of information, Weatherall Neal stood confidently before the packed room at GRPS University and spelled out the myriad of successes—both big and small—that the school district has experienced since she took the helm in 2012.

"We are here tonight to celebrate all of the reasons why this school district is thriving," said Weatherall Neal, nodding at GRPS' new capital campaign, #myreason. Neal's first mention of a recent success was the passing of the Kent county schools village on May 2, which affords 20 schools across the county another $19.9 million—or $211 per student—annually for the next ten years. "Grand Rapids showed up," said Weatherall Neal. "We hustled and it paid off."

Weatherall Neal also listed a bevy of accomplishments from GRPS schools from elementary to high school over the past five years. Some of the highlights were:
 
  • Overall graduation rates up 50% (63% for African American students and 65% for Hispanic students)
  • Six schools removed from the state Priority Schools List, or the list of the bottom 5% performing schools in Michigan
  • Eight schools received the Energy Star Certification, meaning that they are operating more efficiently than 75 percent of school buildings in the state
  • 110 trees planted throughout the school district
  • 1,000 eighth graders participated in Wilderness Inquiry's Canoemobile program on the Grand River. "For our students, this will be the first time experiencing the Grand River…absolutely the first time in a canoe," said McNeal.
  • 118% increase in students dually enrolled in college courses (68% for African American students and 231% for Hispanic students)
Despite an impressive list of successes, Weatherall Neal noted "We've not turned this district around until we flip Ottawa Hills High School," and announced a forthcoming $17 million renovation of the school.

She then encouraged the community to continue their support for GRPS and its students:

"Stay with me. Stay with the district. Stay with these children."

Photo courtesy of GRPS.
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