To the Editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, I am Rob Schuitema and I am running for a position on the Grant Public School Board.
Grant has been my home for many years and I love this community. I grew up here and graduated from Grant High School in 1991. My family has been involved in GPS in many ways, dating back to the 1960’s when my father began teaching and later when my mother began working as an administrative assistant. Continuing to this day, with my brother and sister-in-law as educators. Education has been a part of our family’s lives since the beginning, it is a passion that I was born with. The topic often dominated conversations at coffee time when I was a kid and still does at family gatherings now. Soon after graduating high school, I found my way to Arizona, attending college at the University of Arizona, graduating with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts and traveling around this beautiful country.
In the spring of 2003, I moved back to the area and was searching for the next steps in my career. Grant Public Schools staff and administration, with the help of my father, gave me an opportunity to grow and learn about being a professional educator. This had a great impact on my life and helped me to have the career I have today. I worked in every building as a regular and long-term substitute teacher for 2 years. Additionally, I was able to spend two years working with the afterschool program as a group leader and art teacher, this also led to my involvement with the summer enrichment program where I taught art, photography and theater.
I took on the role of Youth and Cultural Enrichment Director in 2006 with Newaygo County Community Services (NCCS) – now True North. While there, I was able to stay actively involved with the county and GPS, specifically with the Music and Regional Art Scholarship contests, and the summer enrichment programming through Boys and Girls Club.
In 2008, I took a position at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, where I have been for the last 11 years. I have spent most of my time there as the Director of Education. In 2019, I was promoted to the Director of Public Programs.
During my tenure at the Museum, I have made it my mission to bring Newaygo County students, focusing on Grant Public Schools, to the Museum through grant driven STEAM programs and scholarships for field trip bussing and special exhibits. Additionally, I helped implement the Grand History Lesson program that brings classrooms to the Museum for a week. This program “transforms” the Museum into their classroom to encourage place-based and experiential learning. Grant was one of the first pilot schools and participated in the program for 4 years. This morphed into the Museum's current Immerse Programthat grew from 6 pilot classrooms to over 53 classrooms each year for the last 6 years. This program was also the foundation for the Grand Rapids Public School Museum School, a 6th - 12th grade place based and Design Thinking school model.
I also took the experience I gained at GPS and NCCS to direct Camp Curious, the Museum’s summer camp program and have worked to grow it from 150 to 900 kids. In the spring of 2020, we were challenged with designing a virtual camp experience due to Covid-19, something that has never been done in the 166-year history of the institution. Over 230 kids participated in our virtual camps. This distance learning model led us to form a partnership with DA Blodgett St. John's Home and the Helen DeVos Children’s hospital to provide remote learning experiences for those who are not able to do in-person programs.
At each step of my career path, I have thought about ways to show gratitude to GPS for the opportunities they gave me. I would be honored to give back to this community by being elected to serve on the Grant Public School Board. I came home to Grant and was given an opportunity to grow and learn. My wife, Faune, also a GPS graduate, and I, chose to raise our family here. Our two daughters, Cyanne, a Sophomore and Cora, a 6th grader, both attend GPS and love it. I want to help create a fun, caring, compassionate, and educational environment for all students and staff at Grant Public Schools. Education is my passion and it is the way to a better future.
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