The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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From Maryland to Michigan, KPS welcomes new Superintendent Dr. Darrin Slade

Credit: Emily Porco
Dr. Darrin Slade wearing an “I Heart Knight Life” pin. Dr. Slade became the KPS superintendent during the 2023-2024 school year.

Editor’s Note: A correction has been made. The  five state championships ocurred at District of Columbia Public Schools, not Hazelwood School District. 

According to Darrin Slade’s resume, he has refined student achievements in both the schools and school districts where he was formerly employed. He also guided students to reach the highest attendance rates in the history of KCPS [Kansas City Public Schools]  from 2018 to 2021. This is exactly what Slade plans to do in his new job as superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools. 

Slade has been an educator for 32 years. He worked as a teacher in Baltimore Public Schools and later was the assistant superintendent of instructional leadership for Kansas City Schools, as well as holding various other positions.

Slade was inspired to become an educator because of the difficulties he saw in the schools he attended while growing up. 

“I went to high school in Baltimore. We had a lot of fights in our school: we had a lot of students that were disrespectful,” said Slade. “That’s why I became a teacher and always had tight rules.”

While on his journey to becoming a superintendent, Slade had to face obstacles like taking care of his sick wife, who was in the hospital for multiple months at a time. 

“For 18 years, my wife was ill with diabetes: she was in serious shape. She had passed away, and my boss said that you need to be a superintendent someday because you are doing so well,” said Slade. 

KPS students were first introduced to Slade’s tight rules through a summer announcement of a new procedure being implemented in all KPS schools: no phones. 

“We put the phone rule in place because we want students to focus and learn,” said Slade. “You have all the time in the world to be on your phone when you’re not in school.” 

With procedures similar to the KPS phone policy, Slade has had successful experiences in increasing graduation and attendance rates in his previous school districts. He proved this while working in KCPS, an unaccredited, failing school district for over 20 years. This all changed when Slade was hired to take them off the “failing district” list.

“We went from being one of the worst districts to one of the most improved in the whole state,” said Slade. 

With his work ethic, Slade plans to solve prominent problems in the KPS schools.

“We [Slade and high school principals] went and checked every single senior right now, and [for] every senior who’s struggling right now, we put something in place to help them improve,” said Slade. “That’s how you improve the graduation rates. You do that over and over again all year. You just don’t wait until the very end and allow them to fail.”

Slade hopes to grow graduation rates every year until he reaches a flawless 100 percent, claiming that it’s “an easy fix for me.”

With better grades and improved rates of student attendance, Slade is looking forward to celebrating students with a 3.5 and higher grade point average. He says that he wants to give these students gift certificates, field trips and other positive incentives. 

“Sometimes we put all our focus onto students who are not doing well. We want to make sure we celebrate all of the students in our buildings,” said Slade. 

This doesn’t mean students who earn a 3.5 or above are in the clear. Although they may have a high GPA, Slade believes that they may be earning their grade point without putting forth enough work. 

“The days of being passed without doing work is over,” and “if you are a sixth grader and decide not to do any work, you might be in sixth grade again next year,” said Slade. 

With Kalamazoo’s resources and location, Slade believes that there should be no reason students should not graduate and excel in their classes, and he has already begun expanding city resources to KPS. Slade has never been in a district with so many resources, claiming that the city of Kalamazoo and local businesses work well in supporting the schools. 

“The city, to me, works together to do the right thing for students. I have never been in a district where the city works as a team to do what’s best for students,” said Slade. 

With the help of organizations like Gryphon Place and Community in Schools, students have resources that he has never seen at the schools he previously worked at. 

Slade also emphasized the importance of the Kalamazoo Promise, stating that it “is what makes our district special,” and that not all students are taking full advantage of the Promise. 

Graduation and attendance rates are not the only thing that Slade hopes to improve. He is also looking to upgrade the athletic department. 

“This is the best district, so why would we let other students beat us?” said Slade.  “I don’t like getting blown out and beaten, especially by Portage. I can’t stand it. I want to improve our sports program in high school. I’m especially talking about football, and I’m not whispering about that.” 

Slade plans to meet with both high school football teams and discuss what they can do to strengthen the team and start winning games. As superintendent, Slade led the District of Columbia Public Schools District to win five state championships in football and hopes to do the same in KPS. 

He has no plans of leaving KPS “until I am asked to leave or forced out or pushed out,” said Slade. 


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About the Contributors
Isabella Figueroa, Chief Copy Editor
Hi, I am the chief copy editor for Knight Life. I am a senior and this is my second year on Knight Life. I wanted to join the newspaper because I enjoy writing and I want to research more about things and write about them. In my free time, I like to walk my two dogs, Rico and Polo. I also like to hang out with my friends and family and to be outside!
Emily Porco, Social Media Editor
Hi, I am the Social Media Editor for Knight Life. This year I am a senior and have been on Knight Life for two years. I decided to join Knight Life because I have always enjoyed writing and Knight Life is a great way to explore that interest. In my free time I like to read and hang out with my friends. Pronouns: she/her/hers

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    alice damashekFeb 2, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    Very informative and impressive article!