Capturing Kids’ Hearts

In the summer of 2008, Jenison Public Schools made a commitment to partner with the Flippen Group to bring the Capturing Kids’ Hearts model to our entire school district. This organization teaches processes that help increase student connectedness with both peers and adults in our schools. As a part of the training, teachers are taught how to create and maintain safe, caring, and motivating classroom environments for learning. Every year since, JPS administrators and teachers continue to learn, practice, and implement these processes in their buildings and classrooms. 

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The impact of the Flippen Group’s leadership and Capturing Kids’ Hearts trainings on Jenison Public Schools has been amazing. It has fundamentally changed the culture of our entire school district. Parents report that one of the primary reasons for choosing our school district to partner with them in educating their children is because of the culture that exists in our schools. It has been so rewarding to watch our leaders, teachers and staff work relentlessly to keep their focus sharp while implementing these tools and processes. We have witnessed a transformational impact and are observing life changing experiences with our students in each building.

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Eleven years ago the administration, teachers, and support staff at Bauerwood Elementary started a journey to transform their school into a relationally connected and emotionally safe place for students, staff, and parents. This ongoing journey has culminated in national recognition.

 

15530758bf5f24bdc1fac733a7d241562211ba93I am especially proud that Bauerwood Elementary has received national recognition by earning a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School award for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. I’m excited to share some of the ways your children are seeing this passion and commitment play out during their school day at Bauerwood, as well as other campuses.

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Ashley Martin’s 4th Grade Bauerwood students worked together to create a Social Contract.

 

 

Crystal Morse and her staff at Bauerwood Elementary School proudly accepts the responsibility of educating ALL children to their fullest potential; academically, emotionally, socially, and physically. 

A veteran teacher that has been with Jenison most of her 20 years of teaching, Kim Finses, takes great care to welcome each of her Bauerwood kindergarten students at the start of the day. Her students choose which way they’d like to be greeted (hand shake, high five, hug, etc). By respecting their choice and greeting them at their level, she is giving them a sense of belonging, modeling respect and allowing them to be seen – it starts the day off on the right foot for both students and teachers.IMG_0683.jpg

“Morning Meeting” time in Tobi Hoeker’s Bauerwood 3rd grade class is another creative start to the day. Pulling them away from their desks and into a circle promotes social-emotional learning in a sort of team/family environment. They are greeting each other, listening to others share, and getting themselves ready to learn – while establishing safety and trust. This time also helps launch the students into the day with a collaborative challenge or mindset.1553061445913df08ab9196a3e53d258c9b9cf7915530642f1b118b7bbea993e462b3d97de25968bThey are also building connection in their class community by utilizing the classroom for lunch time as opposed to the larger (possibly overwhelming) cafeteria arrangement. Having their lunch together in class emulates family dinner and provides opportunities to connect in a less stimulating room. The students work together to keep their room clean, they have more time to play and might even get to enjoy story time while they calmly eat.

 

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Craig Westra has been teaching at Jenison since 1994. He loves to help his 4th grade Bauerwood students focus on positive thinking and gives them a way to visualize it. One year his room was overwhelmed with positive thinking in the form of “Good Thing Rings”. This year the theme is ‘Tree Good Things’, a student will share a good thing by writing it on a leaf and then attach it to the tree. the number of leaves quickly multiply and when a down day comes along, they are encouraged to visit the tree for a boost of encouragement.

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IMG_1992Keegan Goalen and his 1st grade Bauerwood students collaborated on a classroom social contract at the beginning of the year. The social contract process is open and welcomes all ideas and opinions. The final version contains classroom principles that all the students have agreed upon. The social contract follows the students whether they are in Mr. Goalen’s classroom or perhaps down the hall at their art or music special.  Posted prominently in the classroom, the students can refer to the agreement at any time, holding themselves and each other accountable.  15530750af9ee769bc9abee9e161d4aa824e2272

Bauerwood Elementary’s sensory path has been designed to give students a creative and playful way to combat brain drain, relieve stress or burn off energy. When a teacher is connected to a student and their needs, this can be used as a tool to improve focus and prevent potential disruptive behaviors from occurring within the classroom environment. 155307555ede51c1f39050f0c0b78ec70b251213

In addition to changing our culture, the training that we received assisted us in continuing to maintain a school district of excellence. 

I am extremely proud of the efforts that those who make up Bauerwood Elementary have invested in making their school a safe, caring, and loving community for all learners. In the words of Tanya Peterson from the Flippen Group, Bauerwood Elementary was identified as a remarkable school, with a great school leader, and outstanding teachers, “we celebrate them as some of the most skilled and effective educators in the country!” and I couldn’t agree more!

*The criteria for the National Showcase School Award was based on the following: 1) nomination gathered from observation, 2) level of implementation of Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes by all staff as measured by online surveys, and 3) data demonstrating that Capturing Kids’ Hearts has made a significant improvement in attendance, discipline, climate/culture, and academics. A team from the Flippen Group visited Bauerwood Elementary to gather additional quantitative and qualitative data and to interview students, teachers, administrators, and parents. An additional survey was conducted to collect feedback regarding the perceived climate and culture of the school campus and its conduciveness to learning. The collective findings resulted in Bauerwood Elementary being identified as one of the very best schools in the entire country in implementing the tools and processes of Capturing Kids’ Hearts. 

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Small change adds up BIG

As I look forward to spending time with my family this Thanksgiving weekend, it’s very easy to be thankful for all I have been blessed with. Today, I am also reflecting on a commitment to make one small choice daily; to live with an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances. I have been encouraged by the efforts of our students this month, joining together through many small initiatives to make a very big difference.
Our annual change fundraiser “Your Change Can Change Hunger” began in 1998 and is something the kids look forward to each year. After a 15 year partnership with another food pantry in West Michigan, the focus shifted to a more local organization. Hand2Hand partners with local churches and schools to provide a backpack filled with supplemental food that bridges the gap of weekend hunger. When students became aware that their change was going to help kids in their own school district, possibly even their own building – giving sharply increased. The fervor with which students wanted to take care of their own is so inspiring!

 

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The high school students conducted a pop can drive, lunch time raffle ticket sales, hosted a movie showing with drinks and snacks for sale, promoted general collection competitions between classes, sold sodas and Post Family Farm donuts.

The Junior High had an another amazing year raising money through many avenues as well. Students sold coffee, hot chocolate, stickers and gelato. Classes thrived off of competing against one another, and setting personal classroom goals. Students and staff members worked hard at making each goal happen, and we believe they succeeded in many ways.

Competition polls with two containers were popular for students to express their preferences: Coke or Pepsi, Dog or Cat. Elementary class competitions brought an exciting pizza party or pajama day to the winning classroom.

They are always so creative and it’s such a positive environment during this fundraiser. Students are so generous with their time and money knowing how it is helping right here in their community. 

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Our annual contribution drive recently wrapped up with yet another record breaking year! I’m happy to say our students, staff and families have done it again … raising a record $27,567.79 during this year’s 22nd Annual “Your Change Can Change Hunger” fundraiser!!

It is both exciting and humbling to realize that since the inception of YCCCH here in Jenison, our students, staff and families have raised just over a quarter of a million dollars to fight hunger!! Donations have reached over $141,000 specifically for local students through Hand2Hand since 2013. What a wonderful community we live in! Small change can add up big and…Your Change really CAN Change Hunger!

Thank you so much to each and every one of our Jenison families for your part in keeping this wonderful tradition alive and growing to bless our kids.

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National Philanthropy Day Recognition

 The Jenison High School student body has been generously giving back and raising awareness for the Make-a-Wish Michigan mission for the past 20 years. I join Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Student Council Teacher Advisors, in expressing an immense amount of pride in the integrity and efforts of our students! The Make-a-Wish organization itself nominated our students for “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy” and said they “exemplify the spirit of the Kids for Wish Kids program“. Our student council representatives found out about the nomination and award during the homecoming pep assembly earlier this year along with the whole student body.

This program is a platform for youth to create fundraisers to help support the mission and grant wishes of children battling critical illnesses. In 2014 and 2018, our students raised a total of almost $30,000 during homecoming events. Students fundraised through many creative ways; selling bracelets, stars, pizza slices and they even hosted a community carnival and tailgate party prior to the 2018 Homecoming football game. The students led the way to make this a successful community effort. 

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Earlier this year at the homecoming pep assembly, the student body was surprised with the news that they had been nominated for and awarded the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award.

In addition, each class adopted a child who had experienced a wish granted by Make-a-Wish Michigan, and created a themed float for the homecoming parade based on that wish. Our students were so inspired, and felt empowered to make a difference, through the chance to meet the local wish kids and partner with them on the creation of the float. 

“I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work with such amazing kids, they give so much of themselves each day to better our community. Please don’t ever think that high school kids can’t do something… give them some guidance, direction, and freedom to develop and they will do more than you can think possible! I am also lucky that I have gotten to connect with some pretty amazing people at, and through, Make-A-Wish.”

Tracy Mossburger,

Jenison High School Teacher and Student Council

Make-a-Wish Michigan has shown immense gratitude for the way our student body has displayed selfless acts of kindness for many deserving children in West Michigan. The creativity and perseverance of our students through these efforts shows them leading by example. The character of our students to work so hard, focusing on others is such an inspiring thing to witness. Go Wildcats!

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Tracy Mossburger and Kelly Cole, JHS Teacher Advisors attended the award ceremony with the Student Council representatives . 

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On November 12, the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan (AFPWM) honored Jenison High School with ‘Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award 2019’.

IMG_0297Make-a-Wish kid ambassadors in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

Homecoming Blog posts:

Homecoming Dreams Big 2018

Make a Wish for Homecoming 2018

Homecoming 2014

 

History with a Hero

Without America’s veterans, our beloved country would not exist as we know it today. I am grateful for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms. I believe that passing this gratitude and appreciation onto the next generation is invaluable.

Earlier this week, our elementary schools were preparing projects about respecting and honoring Veteran’s Day to share with their classmates, and learning about different components of military service. One Bauerwood 3rd grade classroom was creating lap quilts that will be taken down to the VA.

Right before the anniversary of D-Day this year (June 6), Sandy Hill 4th and 5th graders also had the distinct privilege of meeting a very decorated war veteran and local hero.

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Al Johnson

After his initial medical training, Al Johnson signed up for a very risky assignment. He worked during World War II as a spy for the secret division called Office of Strategic Services (OSS), aiding the French Resistance and cover operations in Germany and China. The OSS is the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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Al Johnson joined the military and was assigned medical training.

Christy Roloffs is a Sandy Hill teacher and through family connections was aware of his amazing story. Mrs. Roloffs invited Mr. Johnson as a guest speaker to make this history come alive. She knew that a living example is far superior to textbooks and films.  

The confidential nature of the work he did was made public in 1987 when the order of secrecy was lifted. At this time, the story of his work and the OSS is fairly new; sadly many who experienced it with Mr. Johnson are no longer alive.

Just last year, nearly 3/4 of a century after the war, the contributions of Al and his team were recognized with Congressional Gold Medals. This is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The members of the OSS were previously awarded the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction in France. 

He brought photo albums, his medal cases, and even pulled out his OSS medal and let the kids touch it. The kids were enthralled, listened intently and asked great questions.

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What an amazing experience for our students to spend this time with Mr. Johnson and learn first hand what his military career was like.

Every day is a great day to tell all those who served our country in the military thank you for their service. We are thankful for all they have given to protect our freedoms and way of life in the United States of America. We are also so proud of all our Jenison Alumni and parents that served or are currently serving their country.

For the full story of Al Johnson’s service, check out the video below.

For more local news coverage on Mr. Johnson: WOOD TV and HOLLAND SENTINEL

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JHS Thespians present “The Miracle Worker”

The Miracle Worker tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker dramatizes the volatile relationship between the lonely teacher and her charge. The JHS cast and crew have stepped up to the task with some big challenges portraying this classic story. Don’t miss your chance to catch the phenomenal student-run, annual Fall production this week!

The Miracle Worker has powerful messages for everyone. In Helen, Anne, and Kate Keller (Helen’s mother), audiences can identify with strong and independent female characters.  Others can empathize with parents of children with disabilities, and try to imagine the challenges as well as rewards these courageous and loving families experience.  It’s also easy for those in education to admire the tenacity and strength of teacher Anne Sullivan. 


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Performances will take place at the Jenison Center for the Arts, November 7 – 9 at 7:30pm and a matinee on November 10 at 2:30pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for Senior Citizens or Students under age 18. 

*Due to its dramatic nature, this play is not recommended for younger children who are unable to sit quietly for the duration of the performance.


When Anne Sullivan died, her ashes were placed inside the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  After Helen died, her ashes were interred next to those of her beloved teacher. Teachers know how important and special a relationship with a student can be. Finally, everyone experiencing the show can relate to the importance of perseverance.

This year also marks the 25th Anniversary of Mr. Todd Avery bringing quality educational theatre to Jenison and our surrounding communities. 

Miracle_Worker_2019-1-2“Theatre can make a difference in the lives of everyone! No matter how our production touches you, we are delighted to share in our storytelling.  

Thank you to the many amazing volunteers overseeing essential teams such as set design, costumes, lighting, and sound. BRAVO Cast & Crew! Another job well done showcasing your talent and dedication! I am blessed to have the opportunity to direct this incredible play in my last year at JHS with this talented group of young actors and techs.” – Todd Avery, Director of Theatre Arts JPS

Click here for the full photo gallery.

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.” Anne Sullivan

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Language Arts and Life Skills

Jenison Junior High students are combining key components of Language Arts studies with a journalism focus to sharpen powerful life skills. The 8th grade students invited community members to help them hone their listening, speaking and writing proficiency.

Packed with students and friendly interviewees, the JJHS media center was abuzz with conversation. Students were prepared to practice natural speaking and active listening but it also required them to do some quick thinking on their feet. Taking quick, succinct notes was also a challenge.

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Dawn Dykstra shares her perspectives on Jenison as a former student, a current parent, and a current teacher.

Mr. Dustin Morley, 8th grade Language Arts teacher, is excited for this new kind of learning experience, citing that this is pushing kids into an area they may not be overly comfortable with, but gives them valuable practice for these crucial skills. Students rotated stations in the media center conducting multiple interviews. After the class hour concluded, the students worked to complete the project with a feature story about one of their special guests.

I was honored to be among the group sharing my experiences through natural conversation. The students asked some really great questions, taking the discussion in interesting directions. I’m glad our teachers are always looking for creative ways to provide authentic learning experiences. And I’m very encouraged to see the next generation embracing face to face interaction and learning to be active listeners, critical thinkers and contributing citizens of the future.

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Matt Kroon graduated from JHS in 2000; he shares about how the area has changed, including the addition of Rivertown Mall.

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Jamie Scholten discusses how the cost of things such as gas has changed drastically. 

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Doug Smith, a retired JJHS social studies teacher, uses sports props to engage students and talk about his experiences. 

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Kara VandenBerg shares about her work with dogs, including Bernie the golden retriever. 

 

 

Performance Honors ‘Band Mom’

This past weekend, McKenzie Stadium came alive with the annual Jenison Marching Band Invitational. The Jenison Band community is something special. Hosting 42 guest marching bands requires an enormous amount of planning and organizing. Much of the effort comes from parent volunteers! I’m always so proud when I see our leadership, parents and students working together to make magic happen.

The Jenison Marching Band, led by Dave Zamborsky, performed their show titled “Urban Canvas” and it was easily one of the best I’ve seen them perform. This year’s invitational was also special as we were able to honor, Sue Jonker. Sue is a loyal and dedicated JPS employee, whose behind the scenes work with the Marching Band over the years has been the glue that’s held everything together!

Sue signed up for a volunteer role with the Jenison bands in 1991 when her daughter, Carie, was a freshman. She began organizing and maintaining uniforms and chaperoning. When she started, Sue had no idea how suited she was for the ‘band parent’ life. She eventually stayed through her daughter Katie’s graduation in 2000, and by that time she was hooked.

IMG_9789Band parents are special people, they become a community together; looking out for each other and each and every kid. Sue is a rare gem, she loves our teens and embraces them fully as her own – her smile, great sense of humor, compassionate ear and helpful attitude quickly earned her the title ‘Band Mom’ who would do anything for her ‘kids’. For the past 20 years, Sue worked in the band office as the administrative assistant in addition to her many hours of volunteering each year.

Throughout her time, Sue helped organize band camp, was head chaperone for many years and trip chair. She was trustworthy and allowed the staff to focus on their jobs, and was trusting when it came to leading other volunteers as well. Sue played an integral role in helping to create rules and regulations for chaperones and equipment people, and worked with band director, Ted Bazany, to review and develop forms for scoring Scholastic band competitions (that are still used today). IMG_9791As the band traveled, Sue was responsible for the planning and coordination of out-of-state trips, including to Arizona and Indianapolis. Behind the scenes, Sue held up her title of ‘Band Mom’ by helping in anyway that she could.

I join the band staff and members in expressing immense gratitude for Sue and for the dedication and love that she has shown to all for so many years. She is a beloved member of the Jenison family!

Unfortunately, Sue has been unable to continue in her role this past year due to her fight with cancer, but she fondly reflects on the ‘too many great memories to list’. Some of her highlights include: being able to be there for the kids and staff, making long lasting friendships, working with a great program with some amazing students, having the privilege to travel with the band, and helping make sure they had what they needed.

After the invitational performance, the kids had the chance to say hello and give an impromptu performance of the band’s anthem “Lob Den Herren” as a token of gratitude. This song is a special tradition for the band and one of her favorites!

Thank you Sue, you have impacted so many with your relentless commitment to the Jenison family! 

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Front row: Anne Gembis (JJHS Band Director), Sue Jonker, Dave Zamborsky (JHS Band Director),  and Mary Uzarski. Second row: Bill Waalkes, Mary Bennink and Dara Westhouse

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Anne Gembis, Sue Jonker and Dave Zamborsky joined by Ted Bazany, former JHS Band Director. Mr. Bazany was also recognized for his many years of service to JPS.

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The Jenison Band members are proud to honor Sue Jonker with a ribbon tastefully incorporated into the design of their show shirt and performance uniforms.  

Check out the full photo gallery of the 2019 Jenison Marching Band Invitational

JPS Wildcat PrinciPALS

The month of October is National Principals Month and I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to the hardworking JPS principals – and to thank them for their RELENTLESS work, day in and day out.

Webster’s definition of “principal” gives a rigid feeling of dominant control and authority. While the professionals in this role are definitely in an ‘authoritative’ position; ‘rigid’ and ‘dominate’ are absolutely not words that I would use to describe our Principals.

JPS Principals are true servant leaders setting the pace for our schools, as we seek to engage each and every child in our rigorous and comprehensive educational programming. Our principals are leading by example as we are eager to build meaningful and lasting relationships with the students we are privileged to serve. Most importantly, our principals hold firm to our core value that is to provide a safe, caring, nurturing, dynamic, and engaging learning environment in which every child can thrive. Our principals, and the staff they lead, provide a distinct difference and help Jenison stand out among other local districts.

Meet Jon Mroz, the new Sandy Hill principal – for the second time. Growing up in Jenison, he never fathomed he would find a teaching job in West Michigan, much less at his alma mater. 

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Jon Mroz, Sandy Hill Principal

Jon joined the JPS staff as a 6th grade Science teacher at Sandy Hill following graduation from Grand Valley State University. After 6 years of teaching, he stepped into the role of Principal at Sandy Hill. He loved working with the wide variety of kids in this different role, however he stepped away for a job in the private sector after two years. Two years later, Jon was missing the people focused profession of being a principal and I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to invite him back. Jon lives in Jenison with his wife and their three young daughters. He looks forward to a new challenge every day and is grateful to be surrounded by people that want the best for each and every kid they meet. One of his favorite perks of the job this year is riding to school with his favorite kindergartner, his oldest daughter.

Read more about the other amazing Jenison Public Schools Principals below:


 

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Dr. Brandon Graham, JHS Principal, is celebrating 20 years with JPS – the last 16 as principal. Brandon counts himself lucky to work with a highly dedicated and focused group of individuals at the high school. High school is a great time to watch the students grow into caring and compassionate young people who are dedicated to serving those around them. He is an appreciative leader who joins the team and is dedicated to meeting the needs of the entire student body.

 

 


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Brett Cataldo, JJHS Principal, brought his teaching and administration experience to the district 10 years ago. He loves being at Jenison and being a part of an “unbelievably supportive” team that gives 100% to keep the students the priority. The highlight of his day is centered around connection; with students, staff, and family.

“Everyone works so hard but we have so much fun learning together!”

 

 


38d1e0efa4c34d49965d3702bb5c175dCrystal Morse, Bauerwood Elementary Principal is very driven and loves to take advantage of creative problem solving and  forward thinking. After 8 years of teaching at JPS, she found herself packing up her classroom and moving to the Principal’s office. And for 15 years, she has been making decisions for the benefit of the kids. She continues to look for unique ways to show up daily for her students and demonstrate that they are loved and supported, no matter what. She and her staff work tirelessly to build relationships with students with the belief – and experience – that the academics will eventually fall into place.

“Each student is so important to me that the time, energy, tears, and each baby step to success is SOOOO worth it.” 

 


75c0d230c8894edc8c8bcaf80e3961afBrent Huck, Bursley Elementary Principal has been at JPS for 7 years, this is his 4th year as principal. One of Brent’s favorite parts of the job is socializing with the students. Chatting with them in the hallways, classrooms and playground is a highlight. He also feels blessed to work with such a tremendous group of hardworking and passionate educators. The genuine compassion they have for their students, their creative lesson planning, and unwavering commitment to student success are unparalleled. They never cease to amaze me.

“JPS students are the best! I love getting to know each one of them!”

 


3388d636734a455695d334a16d5cef8cRachael Postle-Brown, Pinewood Elementary Principal has been in education for nearly 20 years. Her roles of teaching high school and assistant administration have prepared her for the excitement of leadership in the elementary world. For 8 years, she has embraced the unpredictability and seized every opportunity to help a student with a new discovery, try a new way to encourage someone or just share a laugh with students and staff.

 “I am inspired by my staff every day, they don’t just work a job – they are on a mission to serve our students and our community.”

 


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Luke Verbeek, Rosewood Principal has been with JPS for 7 years; teaching 6th grade for 5 years and currently in his second year as principal. He loves being a principal in the Jenison district because he gets the opportunity to work with amazing students, parents, and staff members every day. Starting out as a teacher, Luke loves the opportunity to get back in the classroom and seeing what the students are accomplishing. Coming to work everyday puts a smile on his face because he loves greeting the members of his Rosewood village – students, parents, or the awesome staff he partners with daily. Words cannot express his appreciation for his colleagues and the commitment they share for the students at Rosewood.

“It truly takes a village to raise a child and I am proud to be part of the Rosewood/Jenison village.” 

 


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Lloyd Gingerich, Principal at El Puente has worked in education as a teacher and administrator for over 20 years. This is his 12th year in Jenison. For two years, he lived and taught in Costa Rica and was immersed in the Spanish language. He became a fluent speaker and gained a broader view of the world – outside of west Michigan. Daily, he takes those experiences and partners with his staff to challenge the students to grow and reach their potential. He was a key participant in the growth of the JPS Spanish Immersion program. He loves being a principal in Jenison because he feels that the whole community truly cares about education and they show that with their actions as much as with their words.

“The strong culture of teamwork in service of the children in our community is why I brought my own children to Jenison.” 

 


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Lee Westervelt, ECC Principal has spent his entire career in administration – 25 years with JPS. Being constantly surrounded by curiosity and wonderment is something that excites him on a daily basis. Lee sees his daily playground duty as his classroom where he can guide the children in ‘Being a Good Friend – 101’. Watching them cooperate and play inclusively is a highlight which extends to the classroom and home. 

“I get to be a part of students’ lives and help shape them for a better future. How cool is that! I love what I do.”

 


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Matthew Baughman, Jenison International Academy – Elementary Principal is in his second year in the district. He loves putting his passion to work at JPS because there is an openness to rethink components of traditional education. Conversations and programs are clearly about helping kids and supporting teachers. Families value education and are engaged in the path to success. He feels the program is validated in the support JIA receives from the Central Office provides time, resources, and support for new initiatives. Greeting in a student-led way each morning is the highlight of his day. Matthew also has the opportunity to teach PE every Tuesday and Kindergarten Coding every Wednesday.  

“The JIA staff are committed not only to seeing that students learn important skills and information, but also how to apply that learning to the real world.”


osterberg_k_2019.jpgKrista Osterberg, Jenison International Academy – Junior/High School Principal has been part of JPS for 14 years. While teaching, she has been integral in the formation and progression of the JIA; participating in the development and guidance of each program over the past 10 years. Now, her 14th year marks the beginning of a totally new adventure, as we divide the oversight of the Jenison International Academy and she takes the appointment to Principal of the secondary programs for the JIA. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with amazing students, families, and educators – to be creative in providing optimal, personalized learning opportunities and pathways for our students in both virtual and blended settings. 

“I appreciate, and am proud of the numerous unique opportunities that JIA Junior/Senior High offers to JPS families”

JHS Recognized with Michigan Exemplary Athletic Program award

The honor and privilege of serving as the Superintendent of Jenison Public Schools is a humbling, yet greatly rewarding experience. As a destination school for many families, it’s no secret just how amazing this place is.

It is well deserved when our staff and programs are recognized for their excellence. JHS has been honored by Newsweek Magazine multiple times as the Best High Schools in America, the Washington Post’s most challenging high school as well as a GRAMMY Foundation Signature School. Also, receiving recognition as one of the best 100 communities in the nation for music education nine times.

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director, Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director, Brandon Graham – JHS Principal, Emily Siler – Student Athlete and Tom TenBrink – JPS Superintendent. Banner held by Athletic Booster representatives, Erich Stoezner and Jason Kyle.

Not only do we have an outstanding music and fine arts program, but a successful athletic program as well. Established in 1971, Jenison has a short but rich history of athletics and hard working supporters. At Jenison, we believe in the value and benefits of dedication, motivation, and perseverance. We see our athletic program as a vital part of our total educational program and take pride in its achievements. 

At our Homecoming football game on September 20, Jenison was officially recognized as an Exemplary Athletic Program by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s (MIAAA). We are one of 25 schools that have received this award – and only a handful of them are in the West Michigan area. This is the result of many years of hard work to create a quality infrastructure and a reputable athletic experience; one that functions as an extension to our fantastic educational and fine arts programs.

Former Athletic Director, Kevin Van Duyn (also 1983 Jenison student athlete/graduate and coach), was instrumental in laying the groundwork to bring our program to this point. After his nearly 20 year career at JPS concluded, it was an honor to see him inducted into the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame in March of 2019. He embodies a core belief that good sportsmanship and personal integrity are the foundation of what defines success in both winning and losing situations.

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Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic director is happy to carry the torch and keep our athletic program operating at Exemplary status:

“We’re not perfect but it’s exciting to receive recognition for the hard work that’s taken place. We have some state of the art facilities and the Jenison athletic department strives to share the District’s vision, mission, and core values by stressing Community, Achievement, Tradition, and Service – CATS. When everybody rows together in this endeavor, everyone wins – regardless of the trophies and banners that are on display.” 

Recipient schools experience rigorous screening including an application process, written documentation of the program’s strengths and a two-day visit by an MIAAA evaluation team. Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) states that this award honors programs that model excellence and equity. Schools that are providing for what is best in educationally sound high school athletics.  

Our teachers are relentless in the classroom and many of them continue that effort on the fields after school – 56 of our staff are in assistant or head coach positions at JHS. Our district-wide commitment to the advancement of the emotional, social, moral and physical growth of all of our participants remains strong and is a key component to this recognition. 

I’m beyond grateful for the work of all members of our athletic department to support our “blue ribbon” level program. Our students benefit immensely from relationships built with coaches, the challenge of competition and lessons of teamwork. Go Wildcats!

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director presenting the award to Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director

Check out this video footage of the beautiful outdoor Jenison Athletic Campus:

 

Make Your Mark!

“Make your mark and see where it takes you.” That’s the sentiment behind International Dot Day, a worldwide celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration. This holiday started just 10 years ago and has grown from a single classroom to thousands of schools across the globe. All because of a book with an inspiring message.

Dot Day is inspired by the Peter H. Reynolds book, “The Dot.” The book depicts the story of a little girl who is shy about expressing her artistic abilities. Following some encouragement from an art teacher, she begins with a tiny dot she put on a piece of paper and from that dot creates multiple works of art.

IMG_8926The concept of this book and the participation in International Dot Day both encourage a ‘growth mindset’ and helps students believe in themselves – something we feel strongly about at Jenison Public Schools. Throughout the day, the students created projects that emphasized the importance of embracing individuality. I love that the Pinewood students joined the celebration again this year and are reminded – that as unique individuals, they can grow and learn and be successful.

I’m grateful for teachers that believe in our students and want them to believe in themselves. These may seem like easy art lessons to some but if our students can learn like the character in the story, Vashti, to be brave and help others, they will eventually believe they can really “make a mark” on the world.

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The Pinewood students crafted unique dot-inspired drawings on a paper plate, cutting them in half and then combining them with a partner’s to form a whole circle.

“I think the message behind Dot Day is so important for students of all ages, it reminds them that they are unique and have something special to share with the world. Dot Day is a celebration of this but we try to help our students see this every day. We feel passionately about giving students opportunities for leadership, and to recognize their gifts and share them. At Pinewood Elementary, all of our staff believes that each child is special and unique and has something they can contribute to our community.”
Rachel Postle-Brown, principal of Pinewood Elementary School.

 

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