GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Generation of students, along with family and friends paid their final respects to a beloved local teacher who unexpectedly passed away last week. Dennis Kretschman’s visitation was well attended by community members sharing stories about the impact he made on young lives.
“One thing he definitely taught all of the students was how to appreciate not only nature, but all of life around us,” says Brooklyn Carter, Mr.K’s student form 2014-2015.
A long line formed outside of the visitation service for Grand Rapids Public School teacher. Many students, family members, and colleagues say he inspired young people to look at the world and aspired to make it better.
“I walked away from that school wanting to make a difference in the world…and I went on to get a degree in biology,” says Nicole Dolphin, Mr. K’s Student ’94-’95.
Dennis Kretschman spent 44 years as an educator and was known to many as a teacher at GRPS’s Zoo school, which was part of the founding partnership between the school, and John Ball Zoo decades ago.
Students remember Mr. K as a thought provoking teacher with a great sense of humor.
“He was just a really funny person, who was a really good teacher, and he taught me a lot of things,” says Daniel Dettwiler, Mr. K’s Student ’15-’16.
As people continued to trickle in throughout Saturday morning’s visitation, it was clear to see that impact Mr. K made not only on the lives of his students, but of those in the community.
“He was a wonderful person and we can definitely tell that he touched the hearts of many of his students and I think that he had a very positive impact on all of our lives,” says Carter.
“There was nobody who was more invested in kids than he was. He wasn’t just a teacher, he lived that,” says Tom Watson, Mr.K’s Colleague.
And through his students, his legacy will continue on.
“He definitely cared about the environment and taught his students the same thing, and I think his legacy will just live on for years to come,” says Michelle and Luke Koenigsknechd, Mr. K’s Students ’04-05, ’12-’15.
Kretschman’s family was unable to speak with us, but wanted to share his legacy of not only being a great teacher, but a great human being.