November 2020 School Board Candidates

Five Candidates Vie for Three Positions

As part of the non-partisan ballot section in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, voters in our district will choose three board members to serve a 6-year term for Grandville Public Schools. There are five candidates to choose from: Jason Bradley, Brent DeHaan, Amy Gardine, Christopher C. Orme and Barbara Palmer.
To learn more about their educational background, employment, connection to our district, and school volunteer experience, we sent a short bio form to the candidates. They also answered questions about the district's strengths, their suggestions for improving learning, their personal vision for the district and the contributions they can make.
The board plays a vital role in our district. We are grateful for each candidate's willingness to run, and we appreciate residents taking time to vote in this election. 

Jason Bradley

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  • Graduate of Western High School and Grand Valley State University
  • Awarded a BA Degree in Criminal Justice
  • Employed as a Public Safety Officer in the City of East Grand Rapids
  • Has two daughters attending Grandville Public Schools in 11th & 8th grades
  • Volunteer experience with GPS: N/A
What are the best two qualities of Grandville Public Schools? Why do you see them as strengths? I believe the two best qualities are 1) The quality of the education our students receive, and 2) The caliber of teachers who work there. This is why our students are successful and why parents choose to send them there. This is why my daughters are the fifth generation to attend Grandville Public Schools.
To increase student learning, what are one or two changes or innovations you would champion? I believe real life experiences are crucial to learning. I would strive for introducing "real life" types of classes incorporating topics such as Civics, Personal Finance, Communication Skills, Cooking & Nutrition, Social Respect & Manners, Mental Health, Losing & Coping Skills, Applied Mathematics, etc. 

What is your vision for education in Grandville in 2021 and beyond? Grandville is a leading West Michigan district that integrates a diverse, in person learning curriculum. I would like to see Grandville continue to expand these programs and implement learning techniques for the next generations, incorporating our always changing technology. I would like to see Grandville be a destination district for years to come.

How can you contribute to a successful board meeting? I am a no-nonsense, no-agenda, critical thinking individual. I believe in diversity of thought and working together to completely understand an issue. I support issues based on facts, not emotions. I'm not in it to micromanage, but to support our superintendent, assistant superintendents, our teachers, and our parents.
Learn More Search on Facebook for Jason Bradley - Grandville School Board or email

Brent DeHaan

photo of Brent
  • Graduate of Grandville High School (1990) and University of Michigan (1994)
  • Awarded a BSE in Civil Engineering and has taken several University of Michigan Ross School of Business Management classes
  • Employed as an Engineering Manager at Dematic
  • Attended East and West Elementary and graduated from Grandville HS; wife Julie graduated from Grandville HS; both parents attended East Elementary and graduated from Grandville HS; sons attended Cummings Elementary and are currently a freshman and junior at Grandville HS
  • Volunteer experience with GPS: Coached youth sports teams for past 13 years—Soccer, Baseball, Lacrosse, Football; 7th/8th grade football coach past 4 years; helped with several Mother/Son events and Holiday parties at Cummings Elementary; 6th grade camp parent volunteer; currently filming Varsity football practices; member of football boosters.
What are the best two qualities of Grandville Public Schools? Why do you see them as strengths? Grandville is a place where the teachers deeply care about the success/education of the students and the community/administration work together well with the teachers and support their efforts. This is evident in the Back to School plan developed for the Covid crisis. Over 80% of Grandville residents supported in-person learning so the teachers and Admin worked together to develop a plan. Parents that want in person learning can have it and for teachers/parents that prefer remote learning there’s a good option for that also. Many other school districts have been using Grandville as a model for how to handle this situation.
To increase student learning, what are one or two changes or innovations you would champion? I would focus on improving technology in the classroom/school and supporting more leadership development programs. Our schools need more Technical support staff to enhance WIFI and webcam functionality. The option for remote learning is here to stay and we need to have technology to support it. Developing leaders, particularly women leaders is something I’ve focused on in my role at work. Leadership development can be intentional and effective. I feel there are opportunities to enhance the way members for groups such as the Executive Board are chosen at the High School.

What is your vision for education in Grandville in 2021 and beyond? A school system where the students can recognize and realize their potential and for teachers to have resources and feel supported by their admin and community.
1. Represent the direction/goals of the Grandville community.
2. Listen to the teachers on what they need to provide the best education possible for the students….more Technology support/staff and minimize class sizes.
3. Invest and encourage participation in extra-curricular activities….band, musicals, sports, etc. This is where many students can develop life/leadership skills that will help in their careers and families.
4. Develop the educational track for students that want to pursue skilled trades or alternatives to college after high school.
5. Be fiscally responsible with the Grandville Tax Payer money.

How can you contribute to a successful board meeting? In my role at work, I work with many other departments, some of which are in other countries. I’ve learned you need to listen to everyone’s point of view and try to build consensus in order to achieve successful results… negotiation. I would use that same approach in a school board meeting. I would listen to the teachers, community and Admin and try to reach a result that all groups are happy with.
Learn More Please see Facebook: Brent DeHaan for Grandville School Board

Amy Gardine

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  • I am a proud Boilermaker and Hoosier graduate, with my undergraduate degree from Purdue University and my Masters of English from Indiana University at South Bend (IUSB). During my time at IUSB I was thrilled to be the first graduate student ever to submit a graphic memoir for my thesis. This work also received a first place award through the university's graduate literary publication, Analecta.
  • I am an adjunct professor, substitute teacher, and mother of three boys.
  • We moved to Grandville over six years ago, and we immediately became involved with Grandville Public Schools. From the phenomenal arts programs (like band, orchestra, and theater) to the many sports offered here, my 18, 15, and 11 year-old sons found plenty to keep our family involved and busy. I also was thrilled to help start and develop the outdoor education program currently thriving at South Elementary. This interdisciplinary space has been a beautiful way to build healthy hearts, minds, and connections throughout our entire Grandville community. 
  • Over the last five years, I have used my teaching and curriculum writing experiences to secure grants which funded a 12-tree orchard, garden, greenhouse, and outdoor classroom on the property at South Elementary. I was thrilled to have the help of Principal Ryan Roberts, Mayor Steven Maas, the Grandville Education Foundation, Tanger Outlets, the Scouts BSA, HOPE Gardens of Grand Rapids, teachers, students, parents, and many neighbors in this work. Over these past several years we have done art, science, language arts, and horticultural studies in this space. We have had representatives from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services who used our space for summer camps, and we have shared our produce and seeds throughout the Grand Rapids area. From worms and bees to sunflowers and peas, we have truly grown an amazing community program.
  • This year I also am subbing for Grandville Schools, as I wanted to help in this unprecedented time. Being at recess or planning for classroom subbing is truly one of my favorite ways to help our amazing schools.
What are the best two qualities of Grandville Public Schools? Why do you see them as strengths? Grandville is gifted in two very distinct ways: its wide range of academic offerings taught by talented teachers at all levels, and its extracurricular programming that engages the passions of our student population. Simply put, we have the capability to create lasting impacts in this community because this district is truly developing passionate, capable, well-rounded students.
To increase student learning, what are one or two changes or innovations you would champion? I am a firm believer in creative learning -- whether that is through partnerships like the LINKS program that start in the middle school, the outdoor education initiatives at South elementary school, or the AP courses offered at the high school. Addressing the needs of all students helps with mental health and well-being, and now (more than ever) this is vital to educating the whole child. These types of programs thrive when community, teachers, and students are communicating and seeking innovative solutions to education. As a board member, I would use my experiences in outdoor education as a way to encourage open dialogue between all members of our district so we can meet the ever-changing, ever-widening needs of our community.
What is your vision for education in Grandville in 2021 and beyond? I believe that all members of the community -- from the schools and businesses, to our city employees and citizens -- play a role in the successful education of our children. I value the connections that make our ever-growing, ever-improving district thrive. I hope to not only keep these connections strong, but also build on them through creative, inclusive approaches to school and community-wide growth.
How can you contribute to a successful board meeting? As a Grandville Public School Board member, I hope to advocate for creative public education and meaningful community connection. I believe that strong public schools are the direct result of individuals working side by side for the future of the district -- allowing all voices to be heard and understood. With conscience, compassion, and creativity, I believe that I can help Grandville grow even further in the great work it has already begun.

Christopher C. Orme

photo of Chris
  • Graduate of Grand Valley State University
  • Awarded Bachelor of Science
  • Employed as Midwest Regional Sales Manager - SELECT Products Ltd
  • Two Grandville graduate daughters: Kaitlyn Orme a 2018 graduate & Sarah Orme a 2019 graduate
  • Volunteer experience with GPS: Incumbent School board member. Grandville Little League board member 6 years. Concession stand, Senior All night party, Bond Committee, swim meet timer, volleyball line judge, softball & basketball announcer.
What are the best two qualities of Grandville Public Schools? Why do you see them as strengths? High standard of education & a strong athletic program. Teachers, families and community all contribute to the strong culture and ideology that make Grandville strong in so many aspects.

To increase student learning, what are one or two changes or innovations you would champion? I will continue to champion and embrace all technology advances, skilled trades training, and college prep to give the best options to all students.
What is your vision for education in Grandville in 2021 and beyond? My vision for Grandville Public Schools is to continue the tradition of educational excellence, fiscal conservatism and a dedication to students, families and community. 
How can you contribute to a successful board meeting? Encourage transparent communication by asking questions which facilitates discussion.

Barbara Palmer

photo of Barbara
  • Graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School (1978) and graduate of Central Michigan University — Bachelor of Science, Public Health & Psychology (1982) and Masters in Health Education (1989)
  • Employed as Director of Healthy Kent at the Kent County Health Department
  • I’ve been a resident of Grandville for 26 years. My husband, Ray and his family are long time residents of Grandville with his grandparents being teachers for Grandville Public Schools in the 1960s. I have two children who attended and graduated from Grandville in 2013 and 2015. They both have gone on to receive their Associate Degrees from GRCC and are working on their Bachelor degrees. My daughter in Elementary Education and Special Education. My son in Business Administration. Both of my children participated in Athletics and Band and National Honor Society.
  • In 2003, I served as the President of the Century Park PTC and on various fundraising committees at the school. In 2004, I was elected to the Grandville School Board. On the Board, I served three years as the Board President. I have also served several times as the Secretary and the board representative for the Grandville Education Foundation. I’ve also served on the Gps Facilities Committee and School Bond Community Committee.
What are the best two qualities of Grandville Public Schools? Why do you see them as strengths? We have the most talented teachers in West MI. They are hardworking, resilient, and value the education of young people. During the pandemic, with so many unknowns and concerns of safety, teachers have risen to the challenge of a new way of teaching. They are demonstrating no matter what the issue, they are courageous and are there for the kids.

GPS is very fortunate to have Roger Bearup leading the way for the district. He’s been faced with unprecedented times. He’s lead us through two seasons of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) threat and over 6 mos. of COVID-19. In every situation he has lead with confidence, transparency, positivity and passion that has built trust and collaboration.

To increase student learning, what are one or two changes or innovations you would champion? I’m a supporter of the district’s implementation of the integrated behavior and reading Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). It’s a data-driven, problem-solving framework to improve outcomes for all students. Evidence-based practices matched to student needs leads to equitable learning. MTSS addresses students’ academic achievement but also the behavior and social-emotional well-being, which are often factors influencing learning.

I support the SEL District Team made up of Counselors and Social Workers who are available to students and teachers to access school and community services and resources. I recognize there are many school districts in Kent Co. who do not have mental health resources available on-site. I’m proud that Grandville continues to support mentally healthy students.
What is your vision for education in Grandville in 2021 and beyond? My vision is that all students in Grandville Public Schools receive a high quality educational experience that leads them to a high quality of life. That our teachers having the professional development and teaching tools they need to provide the high quality education and that the school board continues to support financial responsibility of the district by maintaining a fund balance that keeps us in good standing with the State.
How can you contribute to a successful board meeting? A Board Trustee keeps in mind that they are one of seven who come together to collectively discuss and decide the direction of the district. To assure a successful board meeting, the Trustee comes to the meeting prepared by reading Board materials ahead and aware for the actions being requested. They ask questions to assure staff have done due diligence with district funds,. They listen carefully to citizens who provide public comment or write to them. And when a decision is made, they stand as a board behind that decision even if it wasn’t their original position.

Learn More Search on Facebook for Barbara Hawkins Palmer