Meet Our Instructors

Kirk Helferich

As an instructor at The Kent Career and Technical Center for 20 years, I've been very fortunate to work with students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. This has allowed me to further my education daily, as I attempt to pass along to students the knowledge I've gained from our local economy, my consumer experiences, past employment in the retail world, and post-secondary courses.

Marketing and business are ever-changing and therefore make for interesting class discussions and lessons to learn. Using our daily experiences and observations, marketing provides students with the necessary foundation to become future business leaders. Simplified into easy-to-understand language, marketing is the building of trustworthy relationships.  I've enjoyed building those relationships with business professionals, past professors, and with current and former students.  Connecting with students on LinkedIn years after they have graduated is very enjoyable, as I am able to discover the amazing experiences they have had and the careers that they have pursued.

My educational experiences have been in a variety of retail, service, and business facilities, and combined with my education at Central & Western Michigan Universities, I feel very privileged to work with today's students to share what I've learned along the way.

Davenport University: Sport & Entertainment Marketing & Corporate Creativity - Additional Credits.

Western Michigan University: Master of Arts in Education, Technical Education - CTE, 2001 - 2003

Central Michigan University: Marketing & Business Education, 1989 - 1994 

High School: Okemos H.S. - Okemos Michigan (1989)

My wife (Sarah) has taught in the Grandville Public Schools for 20 years, and our three daughters (Naomi 21, Ellie 15, and Kayla 12) all have enjoyed their educational experiences provided in the Grandville community. During the summer months, we enjoy traveling together and have explored various state and national parks through camping and hiking. In the summer of 2015, we spent over a month touring Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota. The scenery is well worth the effort to get there, and staying in a cabin at the top of 11,400 foot Red Mountain Pass is an experience I'll never forget.

Interests include kayaking, fishing, sailing, soccer, camping and hiking our state & national parks, our three current labrador retrievers (Maya, Benzi, Oakley), and our gone, but not forgotten labs (Dakota and Gracie).

If you have any requests for program information, please don't hesitate to email me.

Renee Lafurgey

Renee LaFurgey

Hello! I am Mrs. LaFurgey, an Entrepreneurship & Marketing Instructor at Kent Career Technical Center. I became a marketing instructor for the KISD in the fall of 2004, after teaching business at East Kentwood and before that writing and producing commercials at WOOD TV for 10 years. I really like sharing my marketing knowledge and passion for business with students. I love watching students grow and develop their entrepreneurial skills, so they are ready to go to college or start a career in this exciting pathway.  I also love learning and being part of business organizations here in West Michigan and around the world.

Industry Experience

My background industry experience includes:

  • GVSU Teen Entrepreneurs Summer Academy, Northwood University Automotive Roundtable, Women in Entrepreneurship Week, Small Business Association, Small Business Development Center, GROW: Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women
  • Believe to Become and STEAM summer instructor at the Mary Free Bed YMCA
  • Marketing Writer Producer at WOOD TV 8
  • Merchandising and Product Sales at Kohl’s and Pottery Barn


I also hold several degrees:

  • Masters of Education and Business from Aquinas College
  • Vocation endorsement in Marketing
  • English as a Second Language endorsement
  • Learning Disabilities endorsement

More About Me

My husband, Joe, and I have three children, Adam, Morgan and Candice, and a golden retriever named Wrigley. My husband has worked in the news industry, at 24 Hour News 8 for over 29 years, so I love to watch WOOD TV 8!

When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and doing outdoor activities like boating, gardening, traveling, and community events like ArtPrize.   To have fun in the summer and keep active with young people, I am a Believe to Become summer instructor at the YMCA.  Two fun facts about me are that I taught in India with Teachers for Global Classrooms and here is a picture of me standing by one of the new Seven Wonders of the World….the Taj Mahal.