The Allendale School Board has 7 candidates vying for seats in the Nov. 8 election


ALLENDALE, MI — Seven people are running for three open seats on the Allendale School Board in the Nov. 8 election.

The seven-member school board has two six-year seats and a partial term seat up for grabs in November.

Current board member Scott MacDonald has a seat that expires this year, but he is not running for re-election, which will guarantee at least one newcomer to the school board next year. Incumbents Josh Thurkettle and Christopher Breen are up for re-election.

There are four people vying for the two six-year seats on the board: Ike Kennedy, Troy Lampen, Liz Ramey and incumbent Josh Thurkettle.

For the part-term seat ending in 2024, voters will choose one of three candidates: incumbent Christopher Breen, Corey Mango and Aileen VanderSchuur.

Liz Ramey and Corey Mango are two of 11 candidates who were approved by the Impact Education Ottawa PAC this fall. In order to win the Ottawa Impact’s endorsement, the candidates had to sign a contract binding them to the group’s public policy agenda, which includes opposing Critical Race Theory (CRT) and any controversial material in social and emotional learning (SEL).

RELATED: Far-right group targets Ottawa County school boards in Nov. 8 election

Here is some general information about the seven candidates.

Ike Kennedy told MLive he was born and raised in Allendale. He graduated in 1993 from Allendale Public Schools and has four children who either attend the district or graduate from Allendale. He currently sits on the board of the Allendale Foundation and has spent years coaching football, softball and soccer. His family attends Life Stream Church.

Troy Lampen, 43, moved to Allendale seven years ago to raise his family due to the town’s reputation for a strong and growing educational experience. He is running for council because he wants to get involved and help guide the educational experience of his children and all children in the community, according to his campaign. Facebook page.

Liz Ramey lives in Allendale and has two children who attend Allendale Public Schools, she says campaign page. She assists and coaches for Allendale Little League and Upward Basketball. She attends Chapel Pointe Church and is guided by her Christian faith. She earned her BS in Exercise Physiology from the University of Toledo and her PhD in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State.

Josh Thurkettle is currently chairman of the Allendale School Board. According to his Facebook profile, he worked at Life Stream Church and attended Wheaton College and Grace Christian University.

Christopher Breen, 56, has lived in Allendale for over 23 years and currently sits on the Allendale School Board. He has two children who graduated from Allendale Public Schools and he has been actively involved in the community through youth sports, musical boosters and community events.

Corey Mango moved to Allendale in 2014 and has two children who graduated from the district, according to his campaign website. He worked as a manufacturing engineer at Haworth Inc. for 28 years and coached student-athletes for 18 years.

Aileen VanderSchuur, 68, is a retired principal of Kids Hope USA at Allendale Public Schools, where she served for 19 years. She has also served as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional and volunteer in the district. She and her husband, Joe, raised their three adult children in Allendale and now have three grandsons. She said she loved children and loved watching them grow.

MLive/The Grand Rapids Press has partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information to readers. Each candidate was asked to state their positions on a variety of public policy issues listed below.

Information on other state, county and local primary races can be found at

All answers in the voter’s guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary trimming if an answer exceeded character limits. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Publication of candidates’ statements and opinions is in the public service interest only and should NOT be considered an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.

Here are the answers from three of the seven candidates who will appear on the ballot in November:

What particular skills, abilities and qualifications will you bring to this position?

Troy Lampen: I have been actively involved with the school board as a community member and parent, helping identify areas for improvement and being transparent. I have also actively participated in volunteer opportunities within the district at every opportunity. Use these two engagements to better understand the needs of the school as well as the community at the district level, as well as to connect with staff and students on a more personal level to better understand individual needs. I want to meet the community where they are, recognize each person for who they are as an individual, and create a shared experience that focuses on positive and valued engagement.

Professionally, I have 25 years of supply chain management experience. I have a good understanding of the importance of tracking metrics and performance to leverage meaningful change. I also have a strong understanding of continuous improvement principles and practices that I believe can be applied to my school board service in a way that focuses on a substantial and quality educational journey.

Christophe Breen: Having been a former board member from 2010 to 2020. I have managed and led several other group organizations and boards over my years

Aileen Vander Schuur: I was director of Kids Hope USA and mentor at APS for 19 years. I was in constant communication with my team of Kids Hope USA mentors and prayer partners, and with the school working with principals and teachers where I constantly made timely decisions. I collaborated very well with all of them. I try to be a very good listener and a good communicator. I also learned a lot from the students and their families who were at Kids Hope USA and now I can be their advocate.

What are the biggest problems facing this school district and how will you solve them?

Troy Lampen: One of the major issues facing our district is the ever-increasing pressure to limit instructional materials and remove curriculum items available. A strong educational experience should seek to continually grow and expand the material offered. A vast, diverse and ever-growing resource base that allows each child to feel connected to their learning journey both individually, collectively and culturally is invaluable.

Another major issue for my district is recognizing that we are part of one of the fastest growing communities in the state, and as such there are new opportunities every day to engage with this community in new and diverse ways. Allendale is an ever-growing community of individuals, family groups and social groups that are as vast and diverse as the colors of the world around us. With this growth, we must be intentional in recognizing the diversity of our student body and what educational resources and experiences will best serve them.

Another issue that can be recognized and addressed is the need for our teachers, staff and students to be supported more than they have ever been. The last 2 years have been difficult for everyone, especially for those to whom we entrust our children on a daily basis. The demands we place on our teachers and staff grow every day. Financial issues, mental health issues, and constraints in professional decision-making are just 3 areas from a vast list that we as a community and education system can strive to not only do better, but also to excel and become a standard to be respected.

These are just 3 issues from a list of many, and as a community representative on the school board, I will approach each issue presented to me with diligence, focus, and a mindset for the betterment of the experience. educational.

Christophe Breen: Funding: With state and federal Covid-19 funding disappearing over the next 2 years, how will we continue to support the additional student remedies we have in place. We should consider partnering with GVSU and other community groups to help support some of these programs. Growth: Our district continues to grow in housing and families. although our facilities are newer (oldest building circa 1997), we must be proactive in reviewing facilities for infants. We also have beautiful facilities that will require ongoing upkeep and maintenance. I would like to form a community group to seek public input on possibly another bond in the next few years or seek a possible sinking fund.

Aileen Vander Schuur: Student mental health issues have increased dramatically in recent years. We need these students to get the extra help of social workers and counselors by hiring more of them and making sure they get help. Class sizes should be smaller at the elementary level where students learn the essentials. Teachers also need para-pros in the classroom so they can spend more time with their students. Looking at the budget to see how we can make this possible.

How will you build community understanding and support for our public school district?

Troy Lampen: I will strive to be transparent in all decision-making processes. I believe our very heart, we have the one thing in common that is most important, we truly and absolutely love our children and want the best for them. I strongly believe that if we as a community start from this point, regardless of our differences, we have a common thread that unites us and can create something special and meaningful from there.

Christophe Breen: We already have a “How is a public school funded?” which is available to all members of the community. We have many ways to communicate through all avenues of social media, forums, meetings with our superintendent and community feedback sessions. I would continue to seek new avenues of communication with the community to ensure they have the knowledge and resources to be informed and assist them in their thoughts on the district

Aileen Vander Schuur: I think it’s very important to be a good listener and to be respectful to everyone.

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