Browse Category: Education

Dick DeVos: Businessman & Philanthropist

Dick DeVos is in the news again. His family has been working political circles, which is evident by the amount of time DeVos and his wife, the 11th US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, have spent in the public eye on Capitol Hill. The pair make a great team and have proven that their partnership has changed the face of their hometown. The city of Grand Rapids used to be a small place, but with the help of the DeVos Family Foundation, their hometown has blossomed and grown over the past three decades.


In addition, Dick DeVos has recently joined the Federal Aviation Administration through their Management Advisory Council. The council was set up in 2017 with 13 members from transportation authority and airline executive backgrounds. It’s clear to see that DeVos has a business background, but many were surprised to know that DeVos is more of an aviator as well.


From the time he was young, DeVos has always been obsessed with planes. He got his first pilot’s license when he was young, and now he has licenses for several jets and helicopters. He even co-founded his own charter school to train students to become pilots. The West Michigan Aviation Academy is on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.


The airport is actually the biggest reason why DeVos was invited to the special civilian council by the FAA. While the FAA has a lot of challenges ahead in policies and regulation changes, they also wanted someone who could help with strategies for future growth. After all, it was President Trump who challenged the FAA to pull America’s aviation industry out of the dumps. This came after the President said that aviation in America had fallen behind other foreign airports.


DeVos has plenty of experience with upgrading airports and keeping them in business. He was the one who put the Grand Rapids airport on the map, so to speak. Before 1999, no one knew that Grand Rapids had an airport, probably. It was a small executive airport that had a handful of flights. DeVos changed all of that in the early 2000s when he made one phone call to the CEO of AirTran Airways.


He asked the CEO if he would be open to adding new flights to business traveler destinations. DeVos had a plan. He had already built up parts of downtown to be more entertaining and conducive to conferences, reminiscent of places like Orlando and Vegas. He wanted Grand Rapids to join the business traveler circuit as well.


So AirTran Airways agreed to four new destinations. This would include Orlando, Vegas, Denver, and St. Louis. All of a sudden, ticket sales picked up and the airport was booming. This led to a $45 million expansion that was completed in 2018.


Now that DeVos has joined the FAA, it’s clear that he’s here to stay. He will be meeting with the FAA once every quarter to discuss policies, regulations, and future growth plans.


Read to learn more.

Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum is Leading a Revolution in Knee Replacement Surgery

Robert Reed kept himself active for the last 25 years by keeping up on his martial arts training as well as playing sports such as basketball and football. But over time this took a toll on Robert’s knees. With constant knee pain and discomfort, Robert was taking over the counter pain medication several times a day and clearly needed a more permanent solution. This is where Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum and his revolutionary knee surgery came into Robert’s life.


Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum, Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, uses a new technique referred to as knee resurfacing. During this procedure the knee is not fully replaced, but instead only the damaged parts are replaced. The material used is metal on the damaged outward facing side, and a strong plastic which feels natural to the patient after replacement.


Not only does this less invasive form of knee surgery feel more natural, but it also leaves more options open for the patient in the future. It is important to Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum to use minimally invasive surgery whenever possible to assist his patients. The knee has three separate sections, as such if only one part of the knee is damaged, only that section needs to be replaced in a traditional knee replacement procedure. The procedure becomes even less invasive if only the damaged area of that section is resurfaced rather than replacing the entire section.


So does the partial knee resurfacing provided by Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum work for all patients? Experts say that this is not the best option for those with severe arthritis, but by Dr. Kirschenbaum estimates it would be an appropriate option to consider for approximately 75 percent of all patients.



Creating Success

The biggest and highest performing charter school, Success Academy, was founded in 2006. Anyone is eligible to attend the academy and students are chosen to attend based on a random lottery system. There are currently 41 Success Academy locations, those locations serve roughly 14,000 students. When looking at all of the schools, 76% of the children who attend are from low-income families, 8.5% are English Language Learners, 15% are current of former special need students, and 93% of the students are of color. The beautiful thing about Success Academy, being a charter school, is that it is able to operate with a greater amount of independence than other public schools. Having the ability to be more independent allows Success Academy to offer a different approach for elementary, middle and high school.

Success Academy prides itself on their students being successful at school, college and life in general. Their elementary program is designed to make the students love to learn and want to learn more. They read fiction and non-fiction, theoretically solve math problems, comprehend scientific inquiry, find and use their own voice when answering questions, and, among others, collaborate on projects with other students. Success academy believes that students learn best when they are doing, which is why the teacher only stands in front of the classroom lecturing for 80 minutes a day. Other than that students work in small groups and have hands-on learning. 

The middle school students have college-ready standards which focus’ on critical thinking, subject mastery, and inquiry-based learning. Success Academy offers middle school students a variety of elective classes they can take, these classes include: debate, dance, musical theater, photography, sports and entrepreneurship. Each day the students in middle school have classes in math, science, elective, history, sports, language arts, chess and computer science.

The curriculum for high school students at Success Academy focus’ on critical thinking, public speaking, academic writing, and problem solving. Students are prepare to attend and graduate from 4-year colleges and universities. The school also offers various programs, like internships and international travel, to help develop their various interests. The rigorous high school program requires hard-work, self-discipline, and persistence. Students are also guided through the college application process.

Success Academy’s approach to teaching at all grade levels has earned them the best scores in the state of New York. Out of the 41 Success Academy schools, 5 of them are in the top 5 for math, and two of them are in the top 5 for English. There was an estimated 4,230 students who were able to participate in testing; of those students 94% were proficient in math and 82% in ELA. Students who were English Language Learners and students with disabilities surpassed students both statewide and students in their own school.