Erek Kooyman

Photo of Erek Kooyman


  • Michigan K-12 School Administrator Certification, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, 2016 
  • M.Ed., Aquinas College, 2011 
  • BSW, Calvin University, 2002 


I first experienced teaching when I moved to Honduras and stepped into an eighth grade class room a few years after completing my undergraduate study.  There, I not only became fluent in Spanish, but I discovered a passion for education as a key means of pursuing equity.  

I began teaching in the U.S. as a bilingual math teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools, taking classes for teacher certification at the same time. I loved my students, and I loved teaching math. I loved being immersed in a culturally diverse community of dedicated bilingual students. I discovered that using student assessment was critical to analyze how I was teaching, so that I could continuously adjust to the needs of my students.  

Later, as Principal of Congress Elementary School, I relied on similar instincts to increase enrollment and improve academic achievement. This neighborhood school was "diverse" in every way. We served with equal passion emergent bilingual students, students experiencing housing instability, students living with trauma, and students from generations of wealth. We maxed out enrollment, earned Michigan Department of Education Reward Status, became a Title I Distinguished School Finalist, and forged countless community partnerships including a robust Parent Teacher Community Council. And, with a highly talented team of teachers, we were really, really good at helping students learn.

What it's like to learn in my classroom

In my courses at Calvin University, my students and I explore societal structures in education, pedagogy, assessment, and language learning. My past experiences coupled with students’ lived experiences provide rich and thoughtful discussion that help us to examine topics in education through a variety of lenses.

Professional experience

  • Education Director, Amplify GR, May 2021-Present 
  • Principal, Congress Elementary School, 2015-2019 
  • Dual-Language Math Teacher, Southwest Community Campus, 2006-2015 
  • Math Teacher, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2004-2005 

Professional certifications

  • Michigan K-12 School Administrator Certificate 
  • Michigan Professional Teaching Certificate: K-8 All Subjects, 6-8 Mathematics, 6-8 Social Studies,  
  • Michigan K-12 Bilingual Spanish Endorsement 

Professional services

  • KConnect 4-12 Core  Workgroup and Diverse Educators Align and Design Team Member (2021-Present) 
  • Grand Rapids Southeast Promise Neighborhood Advisory Panel Member (2021-Present)  
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools Strategic Plan Team Member (2021-2022) 

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