Grand Haven teacher recognized as innovative educator

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall, right, recognized educator Andrew Ratke, left, during the district’s Board of Education meeting on Monday. Ratke was selected to join the state’s Innovative Educator Corps.

A Grand Haven educator has received recognition from the Michigan Department of Education.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools educator Andrew Ratke was among 10 educators selected to join the state’s Innovative Educator Corps. The program “recognizes educators who utilize an innovative educational program, methodology, or strategy to help prepare their students for future careers,” according to a press release.

When Ratke applied, they were looking at funding to help keep the Homegrown program going, Ratke said.

Although Ratke received the recognition, he said there are many people who deserve recognition. From administrators, educators, and the supportive businesses participating. Ratke said it takes a large team and huge community effort.

“Grand Haven is amazing, especially when it comes to education,” he said.

Homegrown is a collaboration between Grand Haven grades K-4, business partners, and the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg.

The program takes students through the design-thinking process. Students develop solutions for a real problem facing their business partner.

The program also exposes students to available careers and introduces them to skills sought by employers, said Nancy Manglos, director of talent and leadership development for the local chamber.

It also connects families with businesses and gives them a chance to see what manufacturing looks like today, Manglos noted.

In partnering with Ratke and the district for the program, Manglos said Ratke has a passion for bringing authenticity into classrooms, and they’re looking forward to a new school year with the program.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall said they’re “extremely proud” of Ratke’s recognition as an innovative educator. Ingall said they believe programs like Homegrown are the “best in terms of partnership and collaboration between education and business.”

“Students are the ultimate beneficiary of this work as they get authentic and engaging opportunities to learn and interact with the work of work right here in Grand Haven,” he said. “These opportunities help students find their passions and ultimately shape their learning path in the coming years.”

In the 2019-20 school year, Ratke’s role with GHAPS will change. In mornings he will teach S.T.E.M., and his afternoons will be spent as the design-thinking coordinator supporting educators and help them with training and implement design-thinking in their classrooms. Ratke will also work with the local Chamber to grow Homegrown.

Through the program’s first year, they’ve noticed students grow. Ratke said students are becoming better communicators, developing confidence, and the work they’re doing with the businesses is flowing into other academic areas.

When students interview businesses and research, they take their roles seriously, and they’re open to feedback and adjusting their ideas based on the feedback they receive from peers, educators and businesses, Ratke said.

There’s also a growing excitement around design-thinking, Ratke said, and his new role will help educators apply the strategies in the classroom.

According to a press release from the Michigan Department of Education, IEC members receive $5,000 stipend to recognize their work, and an additional $5,000 stipend to use for partnership with their intermediate school district to share and expand their innovative practices.

Ratke said they plan to work with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District as to how the funding will be used to support educators.

In addition to Ratke, other educators in the Innovative Educator Corps includes Amy Kunz, Caro Community Schools; Benjamin Shoemaker, Mason Public Schools; Erin Maturen, Montrose Community Schools; Jason Radatz, Marshall Public Schools; Lori Morningstar, Flushing Community Schools; Natalie Daversa, Oxford Community Schools; Randy Scott, Davison Community Schools; Rebecca Arbic, for Sault Area Public Schools; and Robert Thomson, Alpena Public Schools.

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