With the Grosse Pointe Public School System’s board of education recently appointing Dr. M Jon Dean as Superintendent, students and staff of the district are both eager and anxious to see the new changes to the administration and understand the means of superintendent.
Dean was recently promoted from his original position as deputy superintendent to superintendent of the district, and according to Dean, this means many changes within how he is involved in the administration as a whole.
“As the deputy superintendent, I have day to day responsibilities when something needs to be decided within the school district,” Dean said. “The superintendent’s role is a little more strategic, developing plans for the school district and community.”
Although the superintendent’s job is to cater to the needs of the school district as a whole, Grosse Pointe South parent Lori Nixon believes that the involvement of the parents regarding the district and administration may become a hurdle for the new superintendent.
“The superintendent has a tough job because there are some parents that are really vocal, and will push what they believe is best,” Nixon said. “Some parents want their children to have a private education in a public school, and that is just not possible.”
According to Jacquelyn Wang ‘21, the administration oftentimes in the past has taken the wrong approach when making decisions for the district. The school system often accommodates the opinions of the parents rather than the needs of the students.
“I think the administration prioritizes their own reputations over what’s in the best interests of the students. We saw it this year with how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled. The decision to reopen schools far before it was safe to do so resulted in hundreds of quarantined students,” Wang said. “Students should be the first priority, and I wish that was the current case in GP schools.”
Change in the administration is only possible when the voices of every student and staff member is heard, according to Dean. That being said, he will do everything in his power to listen to the students of all Grosse Pointe Public schools in order to make that change.
“I will be visiting every building over the next four weeks to listen to staff members and create opportunities to listen to student leadership,” Dean said. “This will allow me to discover what is important in a Grosse Pointe student’s mind and what they would like to see.”
According to Wang, a main problem with the administration is making promises they just can’t keep, siding with the voices of power rather than the voices looking for change. Once that major factor has been combated, the system can continue to grow, hopefully positively.
“It’s very clear to me that having the support of the conservatives voices of GP matter more (to the administration) than creating a safe learning environment for minority students. It’s disingenuous, performative, and I hope it changes.” Wang said.
Ultimately, Dean’s appointing as superintendent will hopefully bring new perspectives from not only students and staff but also parents, and according to Dean, create a functioning school district that anyone can thrive in.