GVSU alumnus running for Grand Rapids Public School Board
A former Grand Valley State University student is running for the Grand Rapids Public School Board. Chad Patton is taking his desire for change to the next level, and he will be one of the youngest school board members if elected in November.
“I think being younger I can bring fresh ideas, but at the same time, I don’t want to undercut what experience brings, too,” Patton said. “I think that is a constant struggle between generations. I think that right now I’ve done a bit to work with the community, but that’s not to say I don’t still have quite a bit to learn.
"I think that obviously with me being a millennial, I’ve grown up in a time where I have an understanding of the different tools and different technological advances that are ubiquitous to those who are currently at GRPS.”
Patton has spent time working in GRPS before. After graduating from GVSU with a degree in secondary education in 2011, he worked briefly as a TRIO Upward Bound instructor and a TRIO Talent Search adviser before returning to GVSU for graduate school, receiving a master’s degree in adult and higher education in 2016.
“When I graduated from Grand Valley at first, I went to school to become a secondary educator,” Patton said. “So, after I had my student teaching experience in 2011, I went on to look for a job teaching in various school districts in the area, and I had a hard time finding a job right out of the gate. I kind of came to a realization that at that point, I wasn’t going to be teaching in a traditional classroom, but instead, I’d be working in mostly GRPS schools.
"At that point, I realized if I can’t teach, maybe I can experience the schools as a teacher and maybe work to be on the school board and provide a service that way.”
Between 2011 and 2015, Patton also spent time as an adviser for Ottawa Hills High School, where a teacher crisis made him realize the urgency for action.
“I saw what happened when more than half of the teachers were let go due to the demands of the school improvement grant,” he said. “After that, we had a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers, and I believe for a vast majority of that year, Ottawa Hills did not have a full-time teaching staff. It gave me the realization that especially with me as a teacher by trade, we need to be investing in our teachers because if we’re not properly paying them or providing the resources needed to be effective, then we lose our infrastructure for our students.
"That showed through a number of disciplinary issues that occurred during that year, and our students realized that we were not investing in them.”
In addition to his background at Ottawa Hills, Patton was also prompted to run for school board due to a number of other issues, including literacy.
“We have people who’ve gone through our education systems, whether it’s GRPS or elsewhere, who are still reading below a ninth-grade reading level,” Patton said. “We really need to find effective ways to measure who is reading and at what competency. We also need to rally around that and work with the community to make sure that we’re addressing early education, and even family education and family literacy within the home.”
Patton will be on the ballot for Nov. 6, 2018.