District Partners

Kalamazoo Public Schools

Kalamazoo Public Schools is the largest and most diverse comprehensive urban school district in Southwestern Michigan, serving a population of more than 12,000 students. Central to its desire to give every child, every opportunity every time, the district has long committed to hiring teachers who reflect the diverse backgrounds of its students.

The district has 24 school buildings: 17 elementary schools (PreK-grade 5),  four middle schools (grades 6-8), and three high schools — as well as a fully virtual option for students. KPS works hard to address the needs of all students, including extensive special education supports, academically talented enrichment for students requiring additional challenges, English as a Second Language (ESL), and weekly art, music and physical education classes for all elementary students. Middle school and high school students participate in a range of sports and extracurricular activities, including award-winning choral, robotics, forensics and mock trial programs.

The district is home to The Kalamazoo Promise, a post-secondary scholarship that is available for every KPS graduate who meets residency and attendance requirements. The Promise can be used at almost every post-secondary institution in Michigan. 

Almost 38 percent of the district’s student population is African American, compared to only 13 percent of its teachers. To address that disparity, the district has several initiatives to cultivate teacher candidates from traditionally under-represented groups including teacher cadet programs within the district, active recruiting, and partnerships with student groups such as the Future Teachers of Color. 

The Urban Teacher Residency Program (UTRP) is a unique opportunity to cultivate teachers from non-traditional backgrounds by giving existing non-teaching district staff, such as paraprofessionals, bus drivers and food service workers, the opportunity to earn teaching certificates while they continue their employment with the district.

The UTRP shifts the teacher education paradigm in two ways. One, it provides a measure of stability to allow education students to pursue their dreams while easing the financial burden of college. Two, the year-long residency  — in comparison to the traditional 16-week student teaching experience — provides future educators with a better understanding of their profession and allows them to build more meaningful relationships with students, families and district staff. 

KPS wants to lift up its community by lifting up individuals with a heart for children and a passion for teaching to become part of the change that Kalamazoo Public Schools aspires to achieve.

Contact: Steve Leland, Administrative Personnel Officer

Contact Steve


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