ArtMoves Summer Series: Trisha Shuck

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Trisha and her parents, Lindsey and Jeff Shuck at the ArtMoves Gala

This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Tricia Shuck

  • Grade: just completed the 6th grade at Bauerwood Elementary
  • Favorite Color: Magenta 
  • Favorite Food: Dessert 
  • Favorite Book: Land of Stories 
  • Favorite Movie: The Goofy Movie 
  • Favorite class – besides art: Gym
  • A smell she really doesn’t like: Onions 
  • Plans for the Summer: Hang with friends 
  • Something she wants to get better at: Painting 
  • Something she is really good at: Singing
  • Musical instrument: No
  • Pets: 2 cats, Jack and Ollie and a dog named Nala 
  • Age when she will feel grown up? 18
  • ‘Happy Place’? With my friends 
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Trisha and her art teacher, Ashley Hankamp


“Mixed Media Landscape”

Artist Statement: I like how I can express myself in art and how it takes me away from everything else and I can put my thoughts on paper!  My favorite part of this project was my crazy creative dots because they represent me!

Trisha Shuck


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Trisha’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Remax of Grand Rapids. Thank you Wyoming Remax team for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!


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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

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ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

ArtMoves Summer Series: Seth TerHaar

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This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Seth TerHaar

  • Favorite Color: Dark green 
  • Favorite Food: Tacos 
  • Favorite Book: Of Mice and Men 
  • Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
  • Favorite class – besides art: English Literature 
  • A smell he really doesn’t like: The Sweet Pea Bath and Body Works scent!
  • Plans for the Summer: Curating for an art gallery and hopefully road tripping with friends! 
  • Something he wants to get better at: Oil painting and cooking 
  • Something he is really good at: Posting my artwork on social media FB:@sethhaarter, IG:@sethhaarter or Twitter: @sethhaarter
  • Musical instrument? I’ve been playing the cello for eight years 
  • Pets? A black cat named Pirate
  • How old will you be when you think you will feel grown up? I feel like a grown up in my artistic/business life but when it comes to doing things like getting ready to go to college I feel like a small child.
  • Where is your ‘happy place’? Anytime I am driving in my car for a longer period of time where I can roll down the windows and blast music through the speakers!

“Big Red”

Artist Statement: This piece was created for my AP Art portfolio. The goal of this piece was to really just experiment and practice using watercolors. I chose this landscape because I really wanted to use something that was easily recognizable like the Holland lighthouse.

Seth TerHaar

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Seth’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at the world headquarters of City2Shore. Thank you Steve and Shelley Frody for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!


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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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ArtMoves Summer Series: Shelby Orlik

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This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Shelby Orlik

  • Grade: just completed the 3rd grade at Rosewood Elementary
  • Favorite Color: Teal
  • Favorite Food: Chicken Stir Fry
  • Favorite Book: The Cupcake Club Series
  • Favorite Movie: Parent Trap & Freaky Friday
  • Favorite class – besides art: Math or Gym
  • A smell she really doesn’t like: puke and stinky feet.
  • Plans for the Summer: To have Fun!!
  • Something she wants to get better at: Rip Sticking
  • Something she is really good at: Gymnastics
  • Musical instrument: Ukulele
  • Pets: My dog, Mia
  • Age when she will feel grown up? Somewhere between 9 and 20
  • ‘Happy Place’? Sitting in my Big Joe

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“Sun/Moon Painting”

Artist Statement: Shelby’s favorite part of this project was painting with the bright neon colors. When Shelby isn’t at school she enjoys playing with her friends and reading. She would like to be a teacher when she grows up.

Shelby Orlik


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Shelby’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Tarry Hall Roller Rink. Thank you Tarry Hall for investing in our students and blessing your clients with this fun piece of art!

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Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 9.53.52 AM

ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home.

Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

ArtMoves Summer Series: Quinn Terpstra

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This summer, we will highlight the Jenison ArtMoves program. Each week, we will feature one of the talented student artists and local businesses that have supported the Jenison Visual Arts Department.

Please join us in celebrating our students and thanking these local partners by visiting their businesses. ArtMoves Gala photography by Damion Van Slyke Photography.

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ArtMoves is an annual art leasing program created by the Jenison Visual Arts Department. The goal is to connect our talented students with local businesses, and to promote the outstanding work of our student artists.

Business owners in and around the community attend the annual gala and have the opportunity to lease their favorite artwork for a year. The artwork remains on display and at the end of the lease, the student receives their artwork back to proudly display at home. 

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Many hands go into making this program a reality! A heartfelt thank you goes out to…

  • Our amazing staff of Jenison art teachers fostering creativity in all students
  • Our high school art teachers and students who help mat the artwork
  • Mr. Albert’s high school wood shop class for making the custom frames
  • Norbert’s Glass for the donation of the glass for the frames
  • The many business partners who invest in our students and value the community we live in!

 


ArtMoves Featured Artist:

Quinn Terpstra

  • Grade: just completed the 3rd grade at El Puente
  • Favorite Color: Green
  • Favorite Food: Hamburgers
  • Favorite Book: Dog Man
  • Favorite Movie: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
  • Favorite class – besides art: Gym
  • A smell he really doesn’t like: Farts
  • Plans for the Summer: Summer camp
  • Something he wants to get better at: Math
  • Something he is really good at: Soccer
  • Musical instrument: No
  • Pets: 2 Fish (Stripe and Gill), and a hermit crab (Pinchy)
  • Age when he will feel grown up: 18
  • ‘Happy place’: Home
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Quinn with his art teacher Mrs. Rachel Kunnen

“Vase of Flowers”

Artist Statement: Quinn’s favorite part of this project was drawing the flowers and adding color using paint and oil pastel. When Quinn isn’t at school he enjoys watching tv and playing the Wii. He also likes to play on the swingset. Quinn is a fantastic artist and works hard at each and every project!

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Quinn’s artwork has been leased for 1 year and is on display at Hawthorne Collection in their Hudsonville location. Thank you Hawthorne Collection for investing in our students  and blessing your shoppers with this beautiful piece of art!

2019 Senior Honors

Although the tassels have been turned from right to left, I wanted to highlight a special day of recognition for our seniors. One of our mottos at Jenison Public Schools is that we strive to finish strong in whatever we do. And every year, I’m so proud to see our seniors do just that.

On May 28, ten hardworking students were part of a luncheon celebration and officially named the Top Ten for 2019. These students have been diligent with the marathon that is high school, achieving nearly all A’s in each course of their high school career.

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Half of this year’s Top Ten were Bauerwood Elementary Students. (Photo by Jim English)

What makes this group so inspiring again this year is not only their commitment to their studies, but their involvement in other extra curriculars like Music, Student Government, Athletics, Theatre, and numerous volunteer opportunities in and outside of school. The experience they are gaining in the classroom combined with real life lessons of these additional activities is a testament to the JPS commitment to provide a comprehensive education.

While there are obviously only ten spots in the Top Ten, the class of 2019 as a whole was a talented, dedicated, and scholarly class. May 28 was also Senior Honors Night; a wonderful celebration of all of their hard work, and to recognize the 5 million dollars that was awarded to this senior class for their future plans.

The class of 2019 is a group of incredible individuals who have demonstrated servant leadership during their 4 years at JHS! They are definitely going to be missed but I’m excited to see them make their mark in this world!

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Megan TerHaar, Valedictorian and Danika Austin, Salutatorian

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Emma Byerwalter with Bill Waalkes, JPS School Board President

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Jenison Class of 2019 – Top Ten 

The Class of 2019 Top 10 are:
Megan TerHaar, Valedictorian
Danika Austin, Salutatorian
Erika Buhk
Emma Byerwalter
Andrew English
Hannah Lok
Samantha Miller
Emily Rose
Elizabeth Tower
Brandon Zink

 

Senior Honors Night

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It is a huge honor to recognize the students who are set to serve our county through the military.

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Photos by Damion Van Slyke Photography

Graduation 2019

The Class of 2019 overcame some crazy weather this year and graduation day was no exception. While dodging the downpours that morning, our seniors returned to their elementary halls one last time for a final send off by the younger wildcats. It’s a tradition meant to inspire the younger students but also, a chance for graduates to acknowledge how far they’ve come and what they have accomplished during their student career. Seniors always look forward to this and many have a great time seeing some of their favorite former teachers. Thunderstorms continued to threaten the outdoor ceremony tradition until just a few hours before the processional began. In the end, thankfully, our seniors and their loved ones were able to enjoy a beautiful evening.

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After four hardworking years of academics as well as life lessons, the class of 2019 confidently entered the stadium to recognize all they have achieved at Jenison Public Schools. This is a group of remarkable, talented, caring young men and women of great character who have already made an impact on their world! I am so proud of them and I am sure that we will be hearing great things about this class in the years ahead! GO WILDCATS!

Keep scrolling to enjoy some beautiful photos that were captured that night, along with a few amazing and inspiring student speech videos. 

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Anna Norton Senior Address – video courtesy of Rich Conflitti

JonJon Conflitti Student Address – video courtesy of Rich Conflitti

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Elementary School Visits

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Bursley Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Rich Conflitti)

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Pinewood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Rachael Postel-Brown)

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Bauerwood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Crystal Morse)

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Rosewood Elementary – Class of 2019 (Photo by Amanda Moerdyke)

SH Senior Walk Through

Sandy Hill – Class of 2019 (Photo by Sara Melton)

Senior Spotlight: Clarissa Mata

Tonight, the Wildcat Class of 2019 will officially close the door on their school career at Jenison. For each of those students – and their families, this evening represents a lifetime of hard work and perseverance, with hopeful eyes looking into the future. 

One of those students is Clarissa Mata. Clarissa is a bright young woman with a compassionate heart and big plans – she also happens to be one of the first within her extended family to reach the achievement of high school graduation.

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“We won’t see real change until we speak up.” Clarissa Mata,  (Portrait by Eva Russa)

Clarissa’s parents came to America when they were young and have worked for years to create a family focused, hard working, entrepreneurial support system in which she  and her younger brother could thrive.

Working at her mother’s restaurant has helped shaped aspirations for her future. Watching her as a business owner has instilled a strong community mindset that encourages her to invest and make a difference wherever she goes

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The Mata Family at Clarissa’s Quinceanera celebration

In 2015, Clarissa exercised her own entrepreneurial spirit and started a cupcake business. She enjoyed the process and even participated in a few business competitions. She loved being able to donate proceeds to worthy causes she was passionate about, including suicide awareness programs. Through the Careerline Tech Center, she began to explore the Culinary Arts program to possibly build a career on her cupcake business. She appreciated the education and while she experienced the fun aspects of it she now knows that she sees her future going in a different direction.

Looking around the world today, Clarissa feels heavy with the brokenness in society, and an even stronger calling to be an agent for change. She is watching the climate of current politics with a keen eye and plans to pursue a political science degree.

“I’ve been heartbroken time and again by the devastation in this world. ‘Hopes and prayers’ are great, but that’s not enough. We won’t see real change until we speak up. What better way to make sure that happens than if I am given a platform – on the floor in Washington, to do that.”

Jenison has given Clarissa memories of life shaping experiences and she credits her teachers and the staff for their willingness to guide and mentor her. She will hold them dear and is sad that they will no longer be a part of her daily life.

The work of our teachers and staff that helps shape our students and gets them ready for their new world does not go unnoticed. Clarissa, your enthusiasm for making this world a better place is contagious. I am proud to call you a Wildcat and can’t wait to see what your future will bring!

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Q: How old do you think you will be when you feel like a grown up?

A: (without pause) “When I win the election I’m running for.”

Rosewood Students Break World Record

Karen Ambs is one of those people with a song in her heart and a pep in her step. One of her favorite accessories to go along with her fun personality is ‘jazz hands’! In fact, a group of student safety crossing guards greet her at the door daily with a fun, jazz hand wave.

This prompted a discussion months ago during her music class at Rosewood Elementary. One of the greeter students asked what the record was for the most people doing jazz hands. Her curious and helpful nature drove her to a bit of research, and she discovered the current record is 394, which was set in the UK.

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Mrs. Ambs leading some fun as the kids get into place for their Guinness World Record attempt.

Mrs. Ambs is retiring after 32 years of teaching this June, but you don’t see her resting on her laurels. A dream was born in her students that day and although an official Guinness World Record attempt takes an immense amount of meticulous work, she enthusiastically stood at the helm. Following even more research, school principal, Luke Verbeek, and the Rosewood Parent Club jumped on board and the official application to break the record was submitted.

“Rosewood is a supportive, enthusiastic learning community – parents, staff, and students are eager to jump in and do what it takes to achieve big goals, regardless of whether those goals are academic achievements or world records.” ~ Karen Ambs

Friday, May 17 was a beautiful day when over 400 children, ages 5-13, school staff, and parents gathered on the playground to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the “most people doing jazz hands”.  The event was officiated by State Senator Roger Victory and Georgetown Township Councilman Jason Minier.

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Many additional roles needed to be filled in order to accomplish this goal! There was an official schedule with official timers, witnesses, photographers and ‘people counters’. The participants were divided into 18 different sections – one for each homeroom and one for the parent participants. Each section wore a unique color of gloves, so that the stewards would be able to clearly identify who they were counting.

There was a very intentional plan for everything – where the participants needed to be and how long they needed to do it. But the one thing the students didn’t need instruction on – was the move itself, that comes naturally for a student of Karen Ambs.

Once everyone was in place, the buzzer started the clock and the participants got down on one knee facing the stage, raised their hands overhead with fingers spread out, shaking them back and forth – doing this for the entire 60 second time. At the end of the timer, participants were counted and Rosewood was found to be (upon completion of all validation) new World Record Holders!!! 

I love the positive energy and fun our teachers have with our students! I love the people with the big ideas and the circle of support that lives within Jenison to accomplish these big ideas! What a wonderful memory!

“The amount of time and effort it took for this incredible 60 seconds was SO worth it! The Unofficial World Record for people performing Jazz Hands for one minute belongs to the Rosewood Wildcats! 477 people were able to perform for the full minute (without falling over)!” ~ Karen Ambs

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Senator Roger Victory officiated this record breaking, fun event.

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Photos courtesy of Kerri Jenison Photography and MSB Photography.

Retiring Teachers – Class of 2019

Final music concerts. Conference competitions for spring athletics. The final day of regular classes for our seniors is tomorrow… just a few of the many indications that we are screaming down the homestretch of this school year. With all the excitement that comes with closing the books and looking forward to a well deserved summer break, there are bittersweet moments.

As we soon graduate over 300 students, we also say goodbye to 7 amazing teachers who have acted as champions for your children and led the way for their students, literally for generations. This June, I wish the best to a group of teachers who represent 236 years of wisdom and experience. If your students have had the privilege to study under these teachers, I encourage you to reach out, wish them well and thank them for their deeply dedicated careers.

  • Eileen Maday
  • Linda Reimink
  • Steven Waters
  • Karen Ambs
  • Paula Riordan
  • Brenda Meade
  • Sandra Johnson

Eileen Maday

High School Reading Specialist, English and Social Studies Teacher

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Eileen is the Reading Specialist at the High School and also teaches English and Social Studies. In a few weeks, she will conclude 30 years of teaching – 9 years with Holland Public Schools and 21 years as a Jenison Wildcat. Her favorite memories of teaching are the moments when students have a realization of their potential, master an important skill, achieve a goal, or feel supported through a difficult time. Her favorite book to teach in literature classes is To Kill a Mockingbird as she feels there are so many powerful messages that will always be relevant to young people.  

If Eileen were not a teacher, she believes she would most likely have had a career with a social service agency, working with children in the foster care system. Her family has grown through foster care and the adoption of two of their children.

This summer, Eileen and her husband Tim will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Tim recently retired after 30 years as a firefighter and Eileen is looking forward to more time together. They enjoy traveling, hiking, cycling and spending time with their 5 children and 7 grandchildren. They have exciting plans to hike in all of the national parks and spending time in Europe soon.

“My parting thought is one of gratitude to all of my colleagues.  It has been a honor to work with so many gifted educators who have inspired me with their dedication and sustained me with their friendship.  I am truly thankful.”   ~ Eileen Maday

Eileen, we are truly thankful for your commitment to our students over the years and we wish you the absolute best as you travel to see all the places you have taught about through the years.  

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Eileen Maday with  our Multicultural Advancement Scholars group attending the Calling All Colors Conference at Grand Valley State University.  This is a group she has  sponsored with several colleagues over the past few years.

Linda Reimink

High School Physical Education and Health Teacher

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Mrs. Reimink with some 3rd hour freshmen following a fun and challenging work out.

Linda is a Physical Education and Health teacher at the high school. She has worked for 32 years to teach students the value of fitness and overall health. Helping them develop healthy habits and encouraging good decision making – hoping to set them up for a great future. She enjoys being active herself and loves that her additional role as the Varsity Women’s Golf team has incorporated that as well. In her spare time, she enjoys helping lead worship at her church and reading. Some of her favorite books include Educated, The Help, Water from My Heart, Chasing Fireflies, and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

She’s had the chance to build many great relationships over the years and working with colleague, Kari Kossen every day is icing on the cake. Another highlight of her career is when a student works hard and reaches a goal (running farther and longer than they ever thought possible). She feels that she and the students generally have a good time together and loves the daily laughs they share.

If she was not a teacher, Linda would probably be employed in the corporate wellness field. Actually, her retirement plans may include some part-time work in that arena. She loves the idea of being involved in a mentoring program for college students. Linda and her husband Ron have two grown children and 2 granddaughters. Retirement for her also means more time to travel, spend with family and friends, and will probably include baking for them.

Thank you Linda, for your dedication to send our students into the world with a bright and healthy future ahead of them.

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Mrs. Reimink and her Jenison Varsity golf athletes.

Steven Waters

Junior High Choir Director

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Mr. Waters has enjoyed teaching and seeing the JH students progress during their choir career.

Steven proudly completes his 23rd year in Jenison this year, rounding out his accomplished 35 year teaching career. Prior to his time as Jenison Junior High Choir Director, he taught Elementary Music, Band, and Choir K12 in other districts.

He is fueled by the hard work the students give him daily, and the feeling of chills when the group wrestles with a section and eventually gets it just right. He shares the immense excitement of the students when they sing a 4-part chord in tune. Experiencing all those firsts with the students and watching them grow and progress through their choir journey is something he will never forget.

As much as Steven has enjoyed the hard work of planning and preparing students for concerts, he and his wife, Jeanna look forward  to attending concerts together – especially at Christmas (a notably very busy time for music teachers).

They have three children, three grandchildren and one more grandchild due in June. They are thoroughly enjoying this phase of life and looking for more of life’s simple pleasures, including backyard cookouts, gardening and outdoor adventures. Steven will also continue making music as he participates in the worship team at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

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Mr. Waters directing his 23rd and final junior high concert, at the Jenison Center for the Arts.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work in the Jenison Public Schools with all the wonderful Jenison Families over the past years! Each year has been filled with many blessings on a professional level because of my wonderful students and my exceptional colleagues. I’ll miss hearing the excitement in the voices of the kids as they come into the choir room each day or when they come to the concerts. I’ll miss all the great laughs and tears with the students AND with my music teaching team.

I count myself fortunate to have been here doing what I love so much with people that I love.” ~ Steven Waters

Steven, thank you for using your mastery of music and love for people to point our students toward a successful future. We wish you a beautiful, musical future!

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A student grabs a selfie with Mr. Waters at the conclusion of his final choir concert.

Karen Ambs

Music Teacher for Sandy Hill and Rosewood Elementary Schools

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Mrs. Karen Ambs

Karen Ambs is one of our energetic, big-idea music teachers in the district. Her primary role is lead music teacher at Sandy Hill and Rosewood. She came to Jenison with 4 years of teaching under her belt including kindergarten physical education, typing, library tech, theatre, and art. That diverse beginning set the stage for a passionate, creative career here.

She has also spent time leading the elementary honors choirs for her schools and working on the choreography for the Junior High musical productions. After 32 years of teaching, she is anticipating a more flexible schedule to spend time with her husband and two grown children. She also looks forward to teaching private voice and piano lessons and tapping into her full potential as a recently self proclaimed “gym addict”.

She also has a passion for performing and volunteering with local community theatres. If Karen was not a teacher, she thinks she would involved in a non-profit of some sort.

She experiences bright moments daily when her students discover their own love for music but the memory of listening to one of her young students (who is in our CI program and largely “non-verbal”) sing incredibly beautiful solos will be forever in her heart.

“Don’t forget to take care of each other, and yourselves too. It has been a true honor to serve and teach alongside the amazing educators at Jenison Public Schools.” ~ Karen Ambs

Thank you Karen, for your contagious enthusiasm and tireless service. You have encouraged generations of students to love music and the arts, and our community has been blessed by that.

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Mrs. Ambs is often the first to teach the students to play an instrument.

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Mrs. Ambs with Sandy Hill music students

Paula Riordan

Bursley 3rd grade teacher

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Paula Riordan has been teaching at Jenison for 30 years, in second and third grade classrooms. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. She and her husband have four grown children, all of whom are married. She is excited that her family continues to grow with beautiful grandchildren that she looks forward to spending more time with – including a planned family trip to Disney World. Paula and her husband are also devoted Notre Dame fans and are anticipating attending at least one game each season.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching for me are the relationships I have developed with both staff and students over the years. It’s such fun to have former students stop by my classroom to visit. I sometimes don’t recognize high school or college students by face because they have changed so much, but their names are etched in my brain and it brings back a flood of memories.” ~ Paula Riordan

Thank you Paula, for your dedication to a very fun age group of students. Your guidance and persistence helped build strong educational foundations for many young Wildcats!

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Brenda Meade

Bauerwood 3rd grade teacher

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Brenda Meade counts herself very lucky to have completed her student teaching at Bursley Elementary before she even graduated. Twice as lucky that there was a position at JPS for her upon graduation! Now, 33 years later, after she and her husband, Joe put their own three children through JPS – she still loves spending time and making memories with her Bauerwood 3rd graders daily. 

When you spend nearly your entire adult life in a community, it’s hard to pinpoint a most favorite memory, but a few might stand out. Such as the time a student’s backpack was moving, and when she asked him to open the zipper, out popped the head of a kitty cat. Another time, a mother duck and her ducklings wandered in from the courtyard at Bauerwood Elementary and decided to visit her classroom. The memories are plenty but making relationships is the best part! It’s exciting that she still has contact with many past students – from recent years, all the way to her early years of teaching.

During her time away from school, she enjoys camping, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Photography is something Brenda has always been interested in and she looks forward to developing her skills with some classes with her free time in the future. Another fun hobby she enjoys is refinishing thrift shop furniture.

“Thank you to the students, parents, and my JPS family for allowing me to have my dream job for the past 33 years.” ~ Brenda Meade

Brenda, we are so thankful you have been a part of the Jenison community for this phase in your life. We wish you the best as you have more time to pursue your interests and keep building relationships.

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Sandra Strobel Johnson

High School Social Studies Teacher

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At the age of 21, Sandra unknowingly discovered that she wanted to share her love of learning. She took a student teaching position and she knew the direction of her life had changed forever.  

She will tell you, “I have never looked back. Forty-four years later, I still love my work with young people, trying to ignite passion and encourage truthful self-reflection. I truly get a “kick” out of high schoolers.  I will miss the daily interaction with my wonderful, sometimes challenging, young adults. Many have left an indelible imprint on my brain and soul. Others have pushed me beyond my planned presentations to think more deeply and question more fully.  My life has been enhanced by their presence in it.”

“Few have been blessed with a job that provided joy, laughter, even some tears, as well as intellectual inquiry, and a chance to share with amazing teenagers my passion for psychology, sociology, and CAL (education through cross-age learning).  Teachers are required to write yearly goals. Throughout my career, my first goal was always to simultaneously engage my students’ hearts and brains while allowing them to discover their unique contribution to the world. As I told them frequently, no two people have the same finger prints.  Even identical twins have different prints. I do not believe this is an accident. The world is awaiting their own unique touch.”

“To my many students, it was an honor and privilege to serve as your teacher.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude and sadness that this chapter of my life is coming to a close.” ~ Sandra Strobel Johnson

“I hope I have illuminated my small corner of the world with intellectual curiosity, passion, and a love of learning, enabling my students to shine their internal light on their corners of the world.  The future lies in their hands. I am proud to be an educator nurturing students and deepening their commitment to enhance their world.”

Sandra, thank you for pouring yourself into your students and your willingness to let them fill you as well. We wish you the best as you find time to travel, read, learn even more and spend time loving on your two daughters and two grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Buddies on the Bus

Last fall, a conversation was started by a concerned parent. One that I’m sure many of you have experienced within your own family. How much technology is too much? And while devices and access to technology can be good (you’re probably reading this on a pocket sized device right now), how do we protect our younger students from dangerous activities and content, and promote positive alternatives to screen time? And as an administrator, how can we support best practices while our students are in our care?

After months of research and conversations, I am happy to support our Jenison transportation team as they have introduced a “No Electronics” rule for our elementary school buses. Our district decided to allow the students to keep their devices in their backpacks (eliminating the potential for lost/stolen items or inappropriate use); and saw this as the perfect opportunity to go one step further to give the students something different to occupy their time.

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Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 1.17.25 PMI’m excited that a simple yet impactful solution was born. Working with the Transportation team on this idea, Kristy Rogalla, JPS Director of Curriculum followed the ‘Classroom Library’ strategy and worked with Scholastic to provide 25 buses with bins of books for the students to read while on the road.  

The bin contains books from a wide range of reading selections, appropriate for Kindergarten through 6th grade. Accomodating all readers including comics/short stories, nonfiction and more  for even the shortest bus rides. It is exciting to continue to encourage a passion for reading and life long learning; we’re already seeing very positive reactions and an outpouring of parent support.

140798462e0b154610057ef1cc788fd81427c3daProviding books for all students has encouraged them to read to themselves or with their seat partner and teachers in the classrooms have been hearing about which books they are choosing while on the bus. Bus drivers report that students have been excited to board the bus and get the books they want! The book bins are available during the traditional before and after school bus routes as well as field trips and any other times the buses are in action.

MIII4628After implementing this program, one driver shared that it was the first time since the beginning of this year that the older grade students were engaging in conversation and actually getting to know each other rather than being glued to their screens. Overall, this change has created a calmer atmosphere as students are not clamoring over the seats to see what other students are watching, listening to or playing on their gadgets.

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Jill Brower, Penguin bus driver

Jill Brower, Jenison mom and driver of the Penguin bus for El Puente and Kids First, considers herself a concerned parent when it comes to technology and is grateful for the book bins. She loves to see the excitement on the kids’ faces when they get on to see which book they can get next – as they are swapped out weekly. Older students on her bus are embracing the concept as well – often bringing their own books from home and sharing with friends. She has had a great year with her students and she loves getting to know them and creating a respectful riding environment. She has introduced “Whisper Wednesdays” – so students can read aloud but only by whispering. “It sometimes lasts just a few minutes but the kids all get a kick out of it and some students ask if we can do Whisper Wednesdays on other days too! I love my students, we have so much fun and I’m happy to see them engaging each other more and diving into the books!”

One of my favorite outcomes of this change comes from the Penguin and the Dino busses who are reporting a grassroots ‘book buddy’ program starting to form. Older students showing interest in sitting up front with the younger kids to interact with them and read to them. Readers are leaders and readers are who we are in Jenison – whether we’re in the classroom or on the road!!

It is our fundamental belief that the successful education of our students is dependent on a positive partnership between parents, teachers, and administrators. When you think of all the obvious school partners and resources, please don’t forget the support teams and your child’s bus driver! I am proud that our transportation team and our 30+ daily drivers are every bit of an extension of the commitment I feel for our students in regards to their academics and mental health and wellness.

Get connected with all the news from Jenison Transportation.

Transportation Services Letter to Parents – New Electronics Rule

Learn more about our Jenison Classroom Libraries.

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