John Booy, Creating College Vision within an Urban Community

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.

Today, we’re speaking with John Booy, Superintendent and Co-Founder of The Potter’s House School. His work with the program focuses on building a college readiness mindset within students whom have previously been disenfranchised by the education system. Because of his team’s efforts, about 95% to 100% of the student population graduates from Potter, and 90% attend college. Listen to this inspiring episode if you want to gain profound insight into how school culture and relationship-building can transform the outcomes of at-risk students.

About John Booy

A graduate of Calvin College, John Booy is a veteran educator with a deep passion for making impact within undeserved communities. He has been heavily involved in organizing the Cesar E. Chavez Day Celebration in Grand Rapids. Mr. Booy shares Chavez’s dream for Americans to unite across the generations behind the idea that this country is a place where everyone belongs, deserves a chance, and has significance. Because of his long-term involvement in the Hispanic community, Mr. Booy received the 2014 Hispanic Award from the Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez at the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.

He is also a frequent speaker on issues surrounding urban education, Christ-centered education, and diversity. His involvement and experience in these issues led him to deliver testimony in front of the 1995 United States Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families hearing on “Private Efforts to Reshape America.”

Through the course of about 30 years of work as an educator in Grand Rapids Public Schools District, John has gained the kind of insight about family engagement and relationship-building that can transform school districts. As a result, The Potter’s House School is thriving and seems likely to continue its trajectory of preparing students to graduate from high school and enter college.

About The Potter’s House School

The Potter’s House School started in 1974, when a small group of college graduates moved to Roosevelt Park, a low-income neighborhood on the southwest side of Grand Rapids, and opened their doors to a neighborhood ministry. Over the next six years, they worked with over 150 children weekly. As these children began to share the stories of their lives, it became apparent that two hours a week did little to meet the academic, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children. They needed a safe place to grow and to flourish academically and spiritually.

Two teachers in the group quit their jobs to work for free in order to launch a school centered on Christ and designed with a diverse student body in mind. The first day brought 12 students to classrooms in the basement of a local church. By the end of the year, 19 students were enrolled at the school and a new location needed to be found. Support from individuals and business leaders allowed Potter to purchase an elementary building, the former Southwest Christian School, from the Godfrey-Lee School District.

Fast forward over 40 years later, and The Potter’s House School is now fully accredited with more than 540 PK-12 students. While many exciting changes have happened at The Potter’s House since 1981, the school’s mission has remained constant: making Christ-centered education available to all children.

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