Street Talk: Teachers learning the ropes in Grand Rapids


With all the news coming from the east side of the state regarding school district closures, it’s refreshing that a bundle of teaching newbies will get their feet wet right here in Grand Rapids.

National Heritage Academies, one of the nation’s largest charter school management companies, will train more than 400 new teachers during a four-day professional development seminar at DeVos Place beginning today.

The newly hired teachers will work in one of NHA’s 76 schools in nine states, serving more than 50,000 students. The orientation serves several purposes, including introducing teachers to NHA’s culture, services and support system, but it is also designed to give training on the Common Core State Standards and the Behave with Care classroom management program.

“We believe that students and staff do best when they are cared about, treated fairly and operate in an environment that has clear expectations. Essentially, we all need to behave with care,” said Todd McKee, NHA’s vice president of school quality. “It’s imperative that staff and students do their best in order to reach the academic goal of college readiness. Behave with Care is about relationships and is the bedrock to achieving this goal.”

When students arrive in classrooms this fall, one of their first assignments is to create a social contract. The contract will allow each child an opportunity to describe how they want to be treated and make a promise to treat others with respect.

“This is a great classroom management tool that students and teachers can build on throughout the year,” said Jim DeKorne, NHA’s director of school leadership development. “It sets clear expectations for behavior and keeps the classroom focused on learning. Everyone is held accountable.”

The training will include information on the Common Core State Standards. A heavy focus will be placed on the shift in English language arts and math and to encourage students to read more, write more and speak more.

“The training sets the cultural stage of support for our new teachers as they embark on our purpose of challenging each child to achieve,” said McKee.

Work smart

Generations X and Y often catch flak for their commitment to the workplace: They would rather work from home (or the local coffee shop); they would rather text the person next to them as opposed to actually speaking to him or her; they would rather show up for work when they feel like working, not when the boss tells them to; and they would rather use their own mobile devices than the company-provided dinosaurs.

So what? Many studies show employees in that age group are some of the hardest-working players in the work force.

Now comes another affront to the traditional workplace structure from the 18-to-34 set.

A survey released by staffing firm Accountemps finds most workers (73 percent) are comfortable looking for a new job while still employed, and some may go as far as searching for a new gig while at the office.

Almost half (48 percent) of workers ages 18 to 34 said they are likely to conduct job-search activities while at work, compared to 26 percent of professionals ages 35 to 44, and 21 percent between the ages of 45 and 54.

Our guess? You can add “honesty” to the traits exhibited by the Gen X/Y crowd. The older generations just know how to lie better.

Opening salvo

Do you think they meant “war”?

A statement from the Michigan Republican Party regarding new offices smacks of military speak — almost.

The opening paragraph states: “The Michigan Republican Party is paving a bold new path to victory. With 10 newly opened offices and regional staff in all corners of the state, the Michigan Republican Party has launched one of the largest and earliest ground game efforts in the nation.”

Maybe it’s just us, but substituting “war” for “game” almost seems to fit the tone, especially when it’s followed up with a quote that includes another military reference.

“We're proud to partner with the Republican National Committee in our effort, and announce our new statewide field director Dan Hennessey,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak. “Our team has already started putting boots on the ground and solidifying the path to victory in Michigan — not just in 2014, but into 2016 and beyond.”

It all just sounds so … hawkish.

Reality bites

A Grand Rapids Community College alumnus will compete for scarce resources — and fame — as a contestant on “Capture,” which premieres July 30 on the CW.

James Wallington, who received an associate degree in arts from GRCC in 2009, now lives in Hollywood. He and his sister, Rebecca Wallington, are the Lime Team on the reality show that is being compared to “The Hunger Games” book trilogy. They will compete for a $250,000 prize.

“James was a hard-working student who took acting class seriously, but what I remember most about him was his million-megawatt smile and his nickname — ‘Hollywood’ — that dates back to his high school days (at Forest Hills Central),” said Tom Kaechele, GRCC’s theater program director. “This has to be a major moment in James’ life because he was always a huge reality TV fan.”

Wallington said he has wonderful memories of his time at GRCC.

“I can’t thank the faculty and staff of GRCC enough for pushing me in the right direction and encouraging me to pursue my dreams,” he said. “Every time I visit home, I appreciate Grand Rapids more for what it has to offer. It’s a city filled with hard-working and passionate individuals. I’m most thankful for the performing opportunities I had at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. It was a wonderful community to have been a part of and I’m nothing but proud to say I’m from Grand Rapids.”

A picture of health

Lody Zwarensteyn, president and CEO of the Alliance for Health, turned our attention to an interesting item in a recent online edition of Healthcare Finance News: Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming is on this year’s list of the 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals, as determined by Soliant Health,a health care staffing company based in Atlanta.

Metro Health was ranked 17th in the list of hospitals from around the country. Only one other was in Michigan: Mercy Memorial in Monroe, ranked No. 16.

Metro Health’s contemporary design and zone-specific lighting that can be adjusted for individual patient needs were cited, as was its Silver LEED certification for sustainable building and operation.

According to Tera Tuten, a director at Soliant Health, the winners were selected entirely by voters, while in previous years a panel of experts also had input on selecting winners. More than 100,000 votes were collected throughout the spring, with LaConte Medical Center in Sevierville, Tenn., taking first place with 16,250 votes.

Checkers jumps

Word out of Holland is that the new Checkers burger joint there has been extremely busy, with approximately 900 cars using the drive-through window every day. We are told this location, owned by Mike Burkhardt, has set a company sales record in Michigan, with sales of $60,000 a week. The previous best one-week sales total for any Checkers restaurant in Michigan was a little over $50,000.

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