West michigan landscape

Kent County District Partnerships

Building instructional capacity

School systems throughout Kent County in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan have partnered with Leading Educators since 2017 to enhance academic achievement for all students, especially those facing economic disadvantages. 

About the Partnerships

Kent County schools are determined to prepare scholars for the real world.

However, to capitalize on these strengths and address challenges, leaders understand that they must meet students’ holistic needs, optimize and value all school options, ensure equitable access and outcomes, enhance curriculum and program opportunities, cultivate a more engaged, impactful, and diverse workforce, and create a culture of trust, collaboration, and stewardship.

The Challenge

Data and evidence indicate a critical need for intervention in Kenowa Hills (3,110 students) and Kelloggsville Schools (2,238 students). Last year, state benchmark scores revealed alarmingly low reading proficiency across Kent County, with only 50% of students demonstrating literacy proficiency.

At the school level, school principals predominantly assume managerial roles, raising a need for a shift in focus and skills needed to be more of an instructional leader providing feedback and development to teachers. Principals need help to do this work.

The Solution

Leading Educators is partnering with Kenowa Hills and Kelloggsville Schools to establish principal and district/school leader professional learning communities (PLCs) focused on instructional leadership, equity, literacy practices, and sustainable systems.

  • We also provide collaborative observational walkthroughs with school leaders to ensure teachers can access calibrated observations and instructional feedback.
  • We design and facilitate dedicated professional development days for staff to enhance literacy instruction while coaching and supporting school leaders to build their capacity as instructional leaders.

Theory of Action for Kenowa Hills and Kellogsville schools in Greater Grand Rapids

If these behaviors take hold and outcomes are reached, the systems will build institutional knowledge and skills, ultimately leading to improved student outcomes far into the future.

Scaling Strong Practice

This partnership aims to build leadership capacity and sustainable structures throughout the system to share, spread, and support work beyond individual classrooms. These schools in Kent County aspire to create a legacy of school and district leadership that prioritizes precise and informed classroom practices.

With instructional leaders who have a strong grasp of fair practices, students will see enhanced learning outcomes. This legacy signifies leaders with in-depth knowledge and skills to provide valuable support to teachers using research-based instructional strategies specific to literacy, science, and social studies.

Read a Related Story
educators in grand rapids session
Partnership Features
Systems/Strategic Advising:

LE engages principal and district leader PLCs on topics such as vision, the opportunity myth, literacy instruction, disciplinary knowledge, equity, and culturally responsive education.

Additionally, regular classroom visits, artifact analysis, and 4-5 touchpoints for Kenowa Hills Schools, along with 8-10 touchpoints for Kelloggsville Schools, ensure robust strategic advising.

Ongoing Professional Learning Design

Kelloggsville experiences three targeted staff PD days focusing on disciplinary literacy and enhancing knowledge in Science and Social Studies.


Principals receive dedicated coaching support for instructional leadership. Additionally, support in Kelloggsville includes coaching for 3-4 teams of pilot teachers aligning with research-based practices for impactful instructional practices.

Our Reach

Three raised hands

9,161 Students

holistic needs are being met

white line drawing of student raising hand at desk

60 Teachers

supported to improve their instructional practices

White icon of a school

13 Schools

supported in moving students to grade-level proficiency

Meet The Team

Our team of experienced classroom educators, former school and system leaders, content and coaching experts, and fearless advocates work shoulder-to-shoulder with Detroit educators to go further faster.
Mary Kay Murphy smiles

Mary Kay Murphy

Managing Director of Networks
Mary Kay is a passionate Michigan educator who leads program implementation and growth in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Learn more

Dr. Keli Swearingen

Senior Director of Michigan Partnerships
Keli is the Senior Director for Michigan partnerships, leveraging more than a decade of experience in instructional leadership.
Learn more

Tina De La Fe

Director of Coaching & Content
Tina facilitates workshops, designs content, and leads observations and coaching with educators in Greater Grands Rapids.
Learn more
Mary Kay Murphy smiles

Mary Kay Murphy

Dr. Keli Swearingen

Tina De La Fe

Learn About Other Partnerships

This network is just one of a dozen partnerships across the country that are pushing the boundaries of what schools can offer students. Learn more about how we customize our supports to meet the needs and strengths of visionary districts.

Meet Our Partners
a baltimore fellow leading learning for peers in a classroom
How can we help you?
Send us a quick note about your challenges or ideas, and we'll be in touch!
Send us a Message
Your name
Email Address
Contact Information
182 Ave – Glendale, NY 10285, US
1 (800) 921 89 15
Send Message
If you are interested or have any questions, send us a message.
Get our free ebook!
How to get more sales
Download Now