TeachingWorks - Grand Rapids

Adding It All Up

Jandernoas Support Grand Rapids Schools

Great teachers aren’t born; they’re taught. That’s the mantra of TeachingWorks, a national organization based at U-M’s School of Education (SOE). In classrooms across the nation, TeachingWorks is helping advance the quality and preparedness of teachers. Now, a new gift from Mike (BBA ’72) and Sue Jandernoa is accelerating that effort in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Students participate in the Wolverine Pathways kickoff event at the Michigan Union in 2016. Students who complete the cost-free program and who are admitted to U-M receive a full-tuition scholarship for four years.

In March, the Jandernoas committed to a $4.3 million gift, the bulk of which will be used to expand TeachingWorks’ Grand Rapids Mathematics Collaborative (GRMC). In addition to supporting the School of Education, the Jandernoas’ gift will establish a need-based scholarship at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and expand fellowships at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, continuing the Jandernoas’ investment in the university and the state.

In Grand Rapids, the GRMC is focusing on preparing and coaching teachers, particularly in mathematics education. With this gift, the Jandernoas wish to better prepare Michigan teachers and enhance students’ math capabilities. In the course of their professional and charitable lives, they recognized troubling deficiencies in mathematics readiness among children in West Michigan.

“Just at the time when the current workforce needs better math skills, our high school graduates have significantly less math understanding and proficiency,” Mike Jandernoa said. “We must help these students in math now so they can have successful jobs in the future.”

TeachingWorks is especially focused on advancing equity and social justice by opening opportunities for marginalized students to experience equitable instruction, build positive learning identities, and find academic success. For this project, TeachingWorks is collaborating with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Kent Intermediate School District, and Grand Valley State University to jointly design a program of training, development, and support to improve mathematics teaching in grades three through eight. Following the first year of the planned five-year project, collaborators will expand partnerships to meet the needs that are determined in the initial stages of the work.

Those partnerships have been critical to the program’s early success, says Deborah Loewenberg Ball. Ball serves as the William H. Payne Collegiate Professor of education, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and the director of TeachingWorks.

“Our partners in this collaboration are developing a deeper understanding of skillful teaching, particularly the ways in which teaching with care can intervene on inequities faced by children from marginalized communities,” she said. “They have been consistently enthusiastic about applying the approaches to teaching we work on together to their instruction, and many of them are already observing improvements in their students’ learning and participation. We are so moved by the ways our partners have become ambassadors for this work within their own contexts.”

The Jandernoas have been crucial allies in building partnerships and extending the pipeline of quality teachers, in Michigan and across the nation. “Without the guidance and support from wonderful friends like the Jandernoas, TeachingWorks simply wouldn’t exist today—and neither would the important work we are currently doing in 26 states to transform how teachers are prepared for our nation’s most important profession,” Ball said. “Their commitment to our collaboration in Grand Rapids will help inspire a deeper dedication to skillful teaching throughout West Michigan and beyond.”

The most important role of education is to create just societies by creating equitable opportunities for all children to learn at the highest levels.”

– Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean of the School of Education

Photo of TeachingWorks Director Deborah Loewenberg Ball
TeachingWorks Director Deborah Loewenberg Ball interfaces with teachers and community stakeholders to inform on best practices for skillful teaching.

When you add it all up, the work of U-M faculty, community stakeholders, and dedicated donors like the Jandernoas is a major factor in SOE’s broad success, said Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje.

“Donors bring much more than their generous financial support to our community. They bring their vision of a better world through education,” she said. “It is exciting to partner with the Jandernoas and all of our donors because everyone involved is deeply invested in and passionate about the outcome of the work.”

“The most important role of education is to create just societies by creating equitable opportunities for all children to learn at the highest levels,” she said. Thanks to U-M supporters like Mike and Sue, that work continues to grow throughout Michigan and across the nation.



Photo of Mike and Sue JandernoaSue Jandernoa is driven by a passion for education and 30 years of teaching experience. Mike Jandernoa is the former chairman of the board and CEO of Perrigo Company, as well as a mentor to Michigan entrepreneurs and an emeritus member of the Business Leaders for Michigan. Their combined service has touched dozens of nonprofits, including TeachingWorks.

In addition to their recent gift, the Jandernoas have been donors and volunteers at Michigan, giving more than $10.4 million in support of Michigan Athletics, financial aid, the Medical School, and more. Beyond philanthropic support, they have lent their time and expertise as chairs of the Victors for Michigan Campaign Steering Committee, the West Michigan Campaign Leadership Council, and numerous advisory groups across campus, including Sue Jandernoa’s 10 years on the School of Education Dean’s Advisory Council. In 2007, Mike Jandernoa received the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership—U-M’s highest honor bestowed upon donors and volunteers.

This gift brings the Jandernoas’ total giving to the Victors for Michigan campaign to $5.4 million, including previous gifts to TeachingWorks, scholarships, and the Ross School of Business.

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