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  • Rick Joseph

Celebrating Diversity Through Extraordinary Engagement


East Kentwood High School is a marvelous microcosm of the world’s rich cultural tapestry. On a recent visit I experienced a welcoming atmosphere and the way that comfortable vibe empowered students whose families come from around the globe.

I began my day in Luke Wilcox’s classroom where he applied the power of story to contextualize statistics in ways that made the data eminently relevant and comprehensible to his learners. In Chad VanHouten’s AP Biology class, students imagined new organisms in their study of genetics. Chad prides himself on encouraging students who come from underrepresented minority groups to experience the captive breeding and hands-on learning that makes this class utterly engaging. Alex Giarmo and Jenin Shamali both make math meaningful for the English Language Learners who come to them from countries far and near, from Myanmar to Albania to Colombia. Carrie Hoeksema’s heart-stopping choral music instruction left me breathless with her passion for music and her exactingly high standards. I ended my day witnessing how students demonstrated the pervasive role graphic design plays in our daily lives in Kim Meyers-Baas’ class.

I left EKHS wishing I could return there as a student. I was taken by the passion the teachers displayed for their content area, their craft, and the students they serve every day.

Carrie Hoeksema enthusiastically directs Varsity Voices

Carrie asks and the students perform

Alex Giarmo reaches and teaches a truly international class of ELL math students

Chad VanHouten motivates his AP Biology students to graphically represent alien organisms

Fruit fly research motivates Ap Biology students in Chad VanHouten's class

Doesn't every biology class have a scarlet macaw perched at the front of the room?

Bearded dragons are bred by AP Biology students at EKHS

Luek Wilcox makes AP stats real and relevant to his students every day


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