Educator Spotlight: Kyle Corlett, LASD’s new superintendent.  

January 30, 2022

LASD Superintendent Kyle Corlett

Educator Spotlight: Kyle Corlett, LASD’s new superintendent.  

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

LUDINGTON – Walking into a new school district as the new superintendent, in the middle of the school year is hard enough, but add a brand new elementary building that just opened on top of that, now that’s a difficult task. But, Ludington Area School District Superintendent Kyle Corlett was up for the challenge.

“I grew up in Kankakee, Ill. and graduated in 2002,” Corlett said. “I attended Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, where I met my wife Jill and then returned to Illinois to teach high school English for six years and was curriculum director and elementary principal for two years. Then we wanted to move closer to family so I accepted an elementary principal position in Three Rivers, and it was not long until I felt ready for that next step and accepted a superintendent position at Delton-Kellogg Schools.” Corlett was there for four years and said he felt like he needed one more move. 

“I’d like to be in a district where I’d like to send my own kids and that lead us to Ludington.”

Having 15 years of educational work under his belt along with a master’s degree and doctorate degree, both in educational leadership , Corlett said improving the lives of kids and doing what’s best for the students has always been his main goal, whether as a teacher or as an administrator.

“Once you become an administrator, sometimes it’s more difficult to see those individual impacts,” he said. “As a superintendent in a small district, I still am able to connect with students and see the changes that may impact their lives. I always focus on what’s best for kids. Everything is so politicized these days that it’s easy to think decisions are based on politics. It’s not about money, it’s not a about politics, it’s about what’s best for kids.”

As he gets settled into his new position, Corlett said something he’s excited about is getting input from the community about the school’s five-year strategic plan. 

“The last couple of weeks I’ve been catching up on some things, but now we are diving into evaluating curriculum and instruction and working on the survey for the strategic plan and coming up with goals that will drive us for the next five years,” he said. “That’s something we will be working on soon, getting input from the community, kids and staff on strategic plan.”

Having the success he has had in education wasn’t always Corlett’s plan. When he was in high school, he took a career aptitude test and it stated that careers in art or numbers were where he should focus his talents.

“I took one of those career tests and it told me I should either be a tattoo artist, because I’m good at art, or an accountant, because I’m good in math,” Corlett said. “The first week at Cornerstone I prayed about it and came to the conclusion that I like to read and I like to help people, so I guess I’ll be an English teacher.”

Many of those who go into the field of education had a mentor or role model who was also in the field, but he was actually the complete opposite of that, he said.

“There weren’t those teachers who I really connected with in school,” he said. “Maybe that was the motivation because for some people they had that teacher or mentor and I didn’t, that might be why I decided to be a teacher.”

Maybe not having those teachers who inspired or interacted with him much inspired Corlett to make sure when he was in the classroom or visiting a school that he’d try to make real connections with students and staff to help build better communication and an inclusive community-like feel.

“I enjoy interacting with kids,” he said. “ I am an introvert, but just knowing that my work is making the world a better place and impacting lives is gratifying. I kind of got pulled into administration because I lead a lot of professional development while I was a teacher, so I have a passion for helping teachers because I know what a tough job that is. Really everyone in education, I just enjoy helping everybody and helping make their jobs easier for them.”

Corlett said he’s excited to work with the entire Ludington school staff, student body and community as a whole and he hopes that his methods of getting to know everyone and assisting them where needed will be accepted.

“Being present and being involved and being a good listener is important,” he said. “That’s really what I plan to do.”

One of the things Corlett said he doesn’t believe is fair in the field of education, especially in the United States, is that education and educational systems tend to be looked down upon in today’s society. When looking at educational systems world-wide, some countries are held on high pedestals because of their demanding educational standards they set after bouncing back from great hardships they faced years ago and crediting education as a way to “make it” or “do better than those before you did” in those societies. Corlett said he doesn’t believe that those techniques are really what Americans would ever want for their children.

“While looking at other countries, I feel that in America we have it so good that parents who are educated know the value of education and their kids tend to do well because they’re supported at home. Generally speaking education gets bashed a lot in the media and on social media because people just don’t respect it. But if they realized that if they supported it and valued it more, their kids would do better in school.”

Working in very different school settings over the past 15 years, Corlett also pointed out that it didn’t matter what area of the country he was in, what ethnic, religious, economic background a student had, the success of the student really depended on how important education was valued at home. In addition, that didn’t always mean just looking at going to college and being successful that way, it just meant that getting a good, overall K-12 education is more likely to set up success for students, no matter what path they take after graduating.

“My parents never went to college, but they valued education,” Corlett said. “My older brother owns a coffee company, two locations in Grand Rapids, one in Detroit and he’s about to open one up in Glen Arbor and he never got a college degree. Another brother is vice president of operations at EcoLab and he never went to college, so college worked out for me, but it’s not for everybody and that’s OK.”

Overall, the strategic plan and looking at what areas the district needs to work on is one of Corlett’s biggest focuses right now.

“I really want to find out what areas the district needs to work on and getting I put from everyone on that,” Corlett said. “Not just what to improve on, but what strengths we can build on as well. The bond is still a major focus. There’s a lot of misinformation on the bond and I want to work on that as well. I think my main job is to help everyone get on the same page.

“There are very generous people in this community, a lot of parents support the district, we’ve got great kids and I think it’s to focus on that and not to get sidetracked and try to get everyone together. 

“It’s amazing how the district attracts people from other districts because it’s a very attractive place to live, myself included. With having little kids, you don’t want to be moving a lot and I really can’t imagine what could be better a better job than this. There are bigger districts, but that doesn’t sound that attractive to me. You never know what God’s plans are. You just try to be nice to people and work hard and good things happen.”

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