2020 Newsmaker of the Year: Roby directs learning transition, Promise Zone for GRPS

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Leadriane Roby Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Schools

CATEGORY: Education

WINNER: Leadriane Roby

ORGANIZATION: Grand Rapids Public Schools

Before she took over the role of superintendent for Grand Rapids Public Schools, Leadriane Roby hit the ground running as the COVID-19 pandemic began raging across the United States.

Roby was unanimously elected Feb. 24 by the Grand Rapids Board of Education to serve as the next superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools. Three weeks later, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all schools to stop in-person classes.

Then-superintendent-elect Roby scheduled weekly briefings with interim Superintendent Ronald Gorman and the district’s leadership team to get families and students adjusted to virtual classes by providing them with the necessary tools to be successful.

During the summer, she helped to seek the input of parents and staff through two surveys about their preference for distance learning, hybrid programs or in-person classes. The majority of parents and staff preferred distance learning, so Roby had her marching orders.

On July 1, Roby took the official title as superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools and immediately took the results and implemented them by launching a new virtual plan that increased synchronous direct instruction for the elementary and secondary levels.

One-to-one devices also were given to GRPS students with support functions in place for internet access and also new digital literacy classes through Parent University.

Along with coordinating efforts to seamlessly transfer in-person classes to virtual classes, 251 students from 22 Grand Rapids public, charter and private high schools received Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarships, which allow students to attend Grand Rapids Community College free of cost starting in fall 2020.

Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.

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