‘Mr. K,’ teacher at GRPS Zoo School, dies unexpectedly

Dennis Kretschman (l) with students at the Zoo School

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Students, parents and fellow teachers are mourning the loss of a longtime Grand Rapids school teacher.

Principal Greg Ramey sent a note home to parents Tuesday that Mr. Dennis Kretschman of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Zoo School died unexpectedly.

Kretschman, known as Mr. K to students, was part of the founding of the Zoo School, a partnership between GRPS and John Ball Zoo.  He was a Zoo School educator for over 40 years.

“He always radiated these really positive vibes,” said Alexander Dyke, a former student.

Like countless others, Dyke only spent a year at the Zoo School, but says it’s still hard to lose a friend.

“It’s a numbing feeling to lose not only a teacher, but a friend to every single person,”  he said.

Here is the full letter sent home to Zoo School parents:

Dear Zoo School Parent(s)/Guardian(s):

It is with a heavy heart that I write you today to inform you about the unexpected death of one of our teachers, Mr. Dennis Kretschman.

Mr. Kretschman was a beloved part of the foundation of Zoo School, and his passion for place-based education and memorable, hands-on learning helped shape the school into what it is today. His impact on students and families over the past 40 years simply cannot be measured. Our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences go to his family, friends, and the Zoo School family…

Please keep the Kretschman family in your thoughts during this very difficult time.

Video of Mr. Kretschman from the Zoo School:

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1 Comment

  • John W.

    One of the best years of my life. I’ve always said if I could go back to relive part of my life, I’d start in 6th grade. Mr. K, you will be truly missed from the class of ’97.