Caring Nurses of Jenison

The Jenison school nurse role derived from the daycare component of our Early Childhood Center when it opened 16 years ago. Expanding on the district’s commitment to meeting the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student; we also believe that the ECC program helps to establish a healthy foundation for families. This is the first ‘school’ experience for the majority of our students and parents. These beliefs combined with state licensing requirements paved the way for a school nurse to be part of the original ECC programming.

Since the beginning of the ECC in 2004, the program has grown exponentially. Today, we offer daycare, 13 preschool classrooms, 8 Transitional Kindergarten classes and provide services for all early childhood age kids in the Special Education program.

I’d like to introduce you to the ECC Nursing staff and acknowledge the ways they support their students as well as families around the district.

Leslie Kidd

Early Childhood Center School Nurse

We’re delighted to welcome Leslie to the Early Childhood Center as a school nurse this year. Previously, she spent 8 years as a cardiac nurse in the Meijer Heart Center of Spectrum Health and then was a District Nurse Supervisor for Wayland Union Schools for 4 years. 

Her role as a nurse at the ECC includes daily caring for our youngest students and offering procedural support to other buildings. This includes annually training district personnel in medicine administration, training secretaries, administrators and bus drivers regarding allergic response and EpiPens.

Leslie is a Jenison High School alumna and she credits the Jenison community for shaping her life in a positive way, she is excited to put her passions to work for the families of JPS. 

Her interests include hiking, traveling anywhere tropical, and owning the role for her kids’ biggest cheerleader through softball, volleyball, baseball, and basketball seasons! She and her husband Ryan have three children, all attending JPS at Bauerwood Elementary. 

Kerri Ten Brink

School Nurse and District COVID Liaison

Kerri joined Jenison Public Schools as a nurse when the Early Childhood Center building opened. It’s an honor to continue to have Kerri on staff and we’re thankful as she has taken on the additional support role of District Covid Liaison. Instrumental in developing guidelines and implementing protocol related to all aspects of the prevention and management of Covid in our schools, Kerri is staying in daily communication with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. It is her desire to serve and make a difference in the lives of everyone in our district as we navigate daily challenges together. She also serves as a medical resource for parents, maintains the AED machines and provides guidance to our administration team and faculty as we work together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our Jenison students and staff. This liaison role requires great patience and an extreme amount of flexibility as we respond to the recommended health and safety practices in alignment with the CDC. While we work hard to keep our students safe and healthy with continued face to face instruction, it is a gift to have someone who loves, and knows our district so well in this role.


I also want to extend a generous amount of gratitude to our community for adapting to a flexible mindset. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) protocols are regularly changing based on the health needs of our community and county. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and respond and adjust to these protocols as they are being provided to us.

Please visit the COVID-19 Update Center on the JPS district website for ongoing updates.

Festival of Plays

The resilient Jenison High School thespians have pulled off a totally new experience this year! The “Festival of Plays” is a 26 year old Jenison theatre tradition that hasn’t missed a beat. From student directors choosing their scripts, organizing auditions and casting the parts with fellow students; it remains a largely student led experience, offering each participant unique points of learning about acting, and the direction/production of their own shows. Through ticket sales, it has also been considered a major annual fundraising event.

During early summer, the directors conducted auditions through video chats and prepared for the show to go on! Throughout the next few months, casts would meet virtually, outdoors and in-person while adhering to the appropriate safety recommendations. Now, they are ready to ‘hit the stage’ and tomorrow the public will have the opportunity to view the three shows that have been underway.

Check out the short promo video done by Senior, Brandon Sams.

The YouTube link below will take you to the recorded performances, Friday, September 11 at 7pm.

There will also be an online opportunity to donate to the Thespian program if you’d like as well.

FESTIVAL OF PLAYS 2020 – WILL BE “LIVE” Friday, Sept 11 at 7pm.

It is really exciting to see these passionate students work hard and be able to complete their goal in the midst of this difficult season. Please join me; mark your calendars and make a plan to watch the students perform three great shows this weekend!
1) 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview

Two college interviewers are tasked with finding another applicant by the end of the day, or else they’ll be fired. Their only option is to look at the waitlist, which has 13 unseen students. Directed by Alex Wood and Carmine Sabatini.

2) The 9 Worst Breakups of All Time

You think your breakup was bad? Eve Tonsil, an employee of the nonprofit company “Relationships for a Better Tomorrow” is here to take you on a tour of the nine worst breakups of all time, from the Cro-Magnon era to the Civil War, to a smattering of modern-day breakups. A comedy that proves that no matter how hard someone has stomped on your heart…it could always be worse. Directed by Liberty Kasper and Katelyn Warkentien.

3) 12 Angry Jurors

A drama in which a jury decides whether to put a 19 year old man on death row for the alleged murder of his father. Directed by Connor Vachon and Maddison Cheyne.

Can’t make it this weekend? The link will remain available online so you won’t miss your chance.

Meet Ashlee DeGraaf

Jenison Theatre Director & English Teacher

This is also a great opportunity to introduce the newest addition to the Jenison Theatre program. As Todd Avery prepared to retire at the end of last year, Ms. Ashlee DeGraaf was introduced at the annual (virtual) student Thespian award show last spring. We’re very excited to have Ashlee accept the position of Theatre Director and English teacher at Jenison High School.

Ashlee is a West Michigan native who made teaching stops in California and then Indianapolis before finding her way back home. She has really enjoyed the school year so far and has been connecting with theatre students while sponsoring the Festival of Plays show alongside Julie Oosterink (Jenison Junior High School Theatre Director).

She enjoys spending time with family and looks forward to more of that now that she’s back in the area. She has made the most of her Covid year while hiking, traveling and reading (with a count of 46 books already)!

Ashlee is grateful for the community support of the arts and is really looking forward to building on our distinguished theatre program.

“Well, this has been a wonderful and strange start to the year with distancing and masks, but all the students I have met have been so kind and welcoming.

I have some big shoes to fill but I also very much appreciate inheriting the gift of an amazing program like Jenison. I also look forward to adding some new elements, possibly some improv projects.

I have been super impressed with the students and their drive to overcome some some really frustrating circumstances. They have worked hard to produce the best shows that they can. We hope you enjoy the Festival of Plays!”

Ashlee DeGraff



Fall Sports Update 2020

Out of the box thinking in response to the uncertainty of Covid-19 has not been limited to the classroom. Our coaches and athletes have been tenacious in returning to the water, course, courts, and fields and we’ve seen an interesting start to the fall 2020 sports season.

Jenison High School Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema has been working alongside our high school teams to ensure the safety of our student athletes and provide the best opportunity to return to competition.

Our coaches and student athletes showed up ready to work hard and they continue to do so despite the uncertainty of our fall seasons. Obviously they want to compete, but their commitment to their team and overall resolve has been nothing short of amazing!

Go Wildcats!

Tim Ritsema

Read below for more about the relentless commitment of our student athletes and coaches as they navigate their season during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, don’t miss the CATS ROAR, an in-depth Jenison Athletic Boosters wrap up of last year’s sports programs and other Athletic department highlights.

Girls Swimming and Diving

Swimming coach, Kyle Stumpf and Diving coach, Brian Zuehlke started training with their teams in August. Covid athletic protocols made it necessary for them to find outdoor venues for their practices. The swimming team travels in two smaller groups for training at a variety of locations including Coopersville, Camp Geneva in Holland and open water training at a local residential lake (with coaches supporting from kayaks). The diving team has been practicing at a local house with a diving board.

The team’s new mantra has been borrowed from Teddy Roosevelt – “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” And they are doing just that. The coaches have been reminding the girls (and themselves) that perseverance is key. They want to have a season and are doing everything they can, considering the circumstances, to expectantly prepare for a return to indoor swimming and diving this season.


Varsity coach, Joe Steenhuysen and Junior Varsity coach, Mya Udell have called the start of their fall season, ‘interesting and non-traditional’. The team is training outdoors as well; on the football field and they have traveled to an outdoor court in Caledonia (in some wet weather). As the football team has dealt with the loss/rescheduling of their season, the team also gained some new team members when four senior guys joined up to train with and manage the volleyball team.

Coach Steenhuysen is a first year coach in Jenison and shared that he has been impressed by the determination and commitment of these athletes and their families. The team is clearly important to them and no matter what has been thrown their way, they come in each day to work hard. Even though it’s been a non-traditional start to the season, he and the players have enjoyed every minute.

Boys Soccer and Football

They proceed with caution, but there are many soccer and football players with fingers crossed these days as we await communication from Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer regarding potentially reinstating their seasons to occur during this fall.

Jenison Football… TO BE CONTINUED. (Photo taken at the final official practice on 8.14.2020)

Boys Tennis

Varsity coach, Aaron Boersma and Junior Varsity coach, Jeff Brown excitedly move forward with their season in full swing.

Girls Golf

Varsity coach, Linda Reimink and JV coach, Alanna Kremkow are happy to have their season count – no mulligan here!

Cross Country

Jacci Storey (Boys coach) and Kelly Tavis (Girls coach) are running full steam ahead with their teams; and the team has recorded some very impressive times in their first few meets.

Congratulations Class of 2020

This week, we had a great first day to kick off our 2020 – 2021 school year. And just one week before, we were able to finally celebrate the accomplishments of our 2020 graduates!

As a sign of the times, Commencement 2020, of course, looked very different. I’m so grateful they were able to have this long-awaited opportunity to celebrate. Even though the execution of the event was unique, I love everything about the tradition of commencement and the time it gives me to reflect on the hearts of each of those students and the obstacles they have overcome during their school career. I wish them well and hope they experience much success as they enter the next phase of their lives.

As the class of 2020 gets to finally close the book on their high school career, the rest of us turn the page to a new chapter. One where flexibility is the name of the game! I’m so grateful for the relentless team of teachers, staff and administrators of Jenison Public Schools who have come back to school with a renewed focus on building positive and meaningful relationships with our students; no matter what – because each one of them matter to us!

The energy the students bring to our school buildings is powerful and we met them with such celebration and great excitement on that first day. Here’s to a great year for all of us! Go Wildcats!

Honoring Retirees – 2020

I’d like to honor a few more amazing individuals who have recently turned the page in their career. Combined, these educational heroes have been pouring into our children and local community with over 100 years experience! If they had the privilege to partner with your student and family, I encourage you to reach out, wish them well and thank them for their dedicated careers.

  • Patricia Howard
  • Janice Staley
  • Deb Van Duinen
  • Lee Westervelt

Another group of 2020 retiring teachers is featured HERE.

Patricia Howard

Sixth grade teacher – Rosewood Elementary

“Living and raising a family in the Jenison community has been the best part of my life. Teaching for Jenison Public Schools was an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. I am thankful for the many relationships, laughs, and memories that the last 20 years have given me.”

Pat always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She felt nothing could be better than knowing you could impact the life of a student, their understanding of the world and even help them find their place in the world.

She and her husband, Scott, have three adult sons who are all Jenison High School graduates. Pat is looking forward to expanding her travel season to year round (not just summers), taking things slow, reading more books and spending time visiting family.

For the last 15 years, Pat has celebrated her birthday while chaperoning Sixth Grade camp for Rosewood Elementary. She will miss the extra special treatment of the 90 voice choir signing happy birthday to her!

Janice Staley

Elementary Media Specialist

I would like to leave this thought from A.A. Milne the author of Winnie the Pooh, it’s perfect for the start of the school year and these uncertain times…

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and more loved than you’ll ever know.”

Jan spent a few years teaching elementary grades before she and her husband, Butch, started their family. She took a part time position with the Kent District Libraries while raising their children. Her experience there fanned the flame of a new passion. She pursued a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. This journey allowed her to combine her love of education and literature; and the Jenison community benefited from her passion for 20 years as an elementary media specialist.

The most rewarding moments were when she would introduce a book or series to a student and they’d take off and find their own love for reading. Jan is a driving force behind many Jenison students becoming readers and leaders!

If she wasn’t a media specialist, you might be reading her travel blog or taking yoga classes from her on the beach somewhere! In retirement, she intends to log many miles with travel of all kinds and staying active wherever their journey takes them… maybe even to a beach, where she can teach yoga.

Deb Van Duinen

Language Arts – Jenison Junior High

One of my favorite quotes comes from the poem “Speech to the Young” by Gwendolyn Brooks:

“Live not for battles won.

Live not for the-end-of-the-song.

Live in the along.”

Deb and her husband, Tom, have been married as long as she has has been on staff at Jenison Junior High. Deb has been a steadfast and loyal presence in the JJHS language arts department for 38 years. She has loved the times when she could influence her students to be lifelong readers, like she is, and share her love of the adventures in her favorite genre, historical fiction. She had also taken opportunities to expand her teaching experience through the OAISD Literacy Network, the Lake Michigan Writing Project, and the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project.

Asking her to choose a favorite memory from her time at JJHS is like asking her to choose a favorite book. She is overwhelmed with so many wonderful memories and moments, and relationships with students and colleagues. She cherished the opportunities to learn and grow personally, and feels abundantly gifted with the privilege of seeing young people learn and grow.

Deb is really looking forward to slowing down, spending time with her children and grandchildren, adding more books to her ‘To Read’ list and downsizing her ‘To Do’ list.

Lee Westervelt

Principal – Early Childhood Center

“The future is in God’s Hands.” 

Lee has spent his entire 38 year career in education administration – 30 of them with Jenison Public Schools, first as Principal of Bauerwood and most recently Principal of the ECC. Being constantly surrounded by curiosity and wonderment is something that excites him on a daily basis. Lee considered his daily playground duty as his classroom. Giving him the opportunity to guide the children in ‘Being a Good Friend – 101’. Watching them cooperate and play inclusively is a memory he’ll keep forever.

In the past, Lee also brought his administration expertise to the position of JPS Community Education Director, gave 10 years as Memorial Day Parade co-chair as well as many Charitable Board positions. Our community is very thankful for his strong leadership role.

Retiring Teachers – Class of 2020

Please join me as I express my deep gratitude to these 6 teachers who have given so much to a diverse group of Jenison students. They represent the culture of Jenison of going above and beyond. 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 dedicated careers.

  • Todd Avery
  • Brett Dyke
  • Jan Camilleri
  • Rachel Elenbaas
  • Stacey Harig
  • Mary Muller

Todd Avery – Jenison High School

I leave you with a quote that has always meant a lot to me and guided my life, “If you give a little of yourself, you will get twice as much back. Try to help someone.  Do your part. I promise it will come out twice as good.”
  – Mrs. Helen Lemke, my grandmother

Todd recently completed his 26th year as teacher and director of the Theatre Arts program for Jenison High School. He spent these years investing into students on and behind the stage. Under Mr. Avery’s direction, the JHS Thespians have performed murder mystery productions, outdoor children’s shows, 24 Hour Play Festivals, an annual fall play and spring musical, as well as participating in theatre festivals across Michigan. The Jenison community is grateful for the Thespian program he spent his career building. We have been blessed with over 60 wonderful productions from our high school players during his time. Another proud accomplishment is developing one of his favorite projects: the annual JHS Thespians’ Santa Breakfast. For over ten years, he built a Jenison tradition as he played the cherished role of the man in the red suit!

In addition to teaching and directing, Todd spent time acting and directing for local theatre companies. He was also honored at the Michigan Thespian Festival by being inducted into the Michigan Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame in 2013. In his “free” time, Todd also enjoys taking in as much live theatre as he can.

Todd sees this step of retirement as a transition into something new. Perhaps teaching or directing at a collegiate level, playwrighting, coaching younger actors or going after a major motion picture role for himself! One of the things he is looking forward to most is time with his loved ones and that may include a trip to New Zealand with his wife Penny, or the bucket list road trip of driving Route 66 in a fancy convertible!

Brett Dyke – Jenison High School

Thank you Jenison for some amazing memories. Some of of the best came from classroom discussions and building relationships through athletics, leading some teams to conference, district and regional championships.

Brett spent about half of his 33 year teaching career at Jenison High School. He most recently taught in the Family and Consumer Science Department with Health and Physical education classes. He also coached the Varsity Boys basketball team for 16 years.

In his time away from the classroom, Brett enjoys golf, travel and spending time with his family. He and his wife Julie are looking forward to more time for all of those plus some DIY projects during retirement.

Jan Camilleri – Sandy Hill Elementary

“Thank you to the wonderful staff that I have had the privilege to work with, the great Jenison administrators and their leadership, and especially to the Jenison community for the opportunity to work for 30 years with children from the community.”

Jan spent the last 30 years teaching in 3 different JPS buildings, working for 5 different principals, and teaching in both special education and general education classrooms. If she wasn’t the amazing special education teacher that she was, she would have probably put her tender heart and listening ear to work for the senior citizen population. 

Jan’s passion for teaching doesn’t allow her to shy away from a challenge; she spent over a year teaching English as a second language to a group of Congolese adult refugees, without knowing any Swahili or French. No matter who her student is, she wanted them to go away feeling encouraged and believing in themselves.

Jan and her husband Joe, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this summer and they are looking forward to spending more time with their adult daughters, camping, hiking and exploring. They will also be re-planning her oldest daughter’s wedding

Rachel Elenbaas – Rosewood Elementary 

“Teaching in Jension has given me some of the best years of my life.  I will remember the great times teaching brilliant students alongside excellent teachers.”

Rachel Elenbaas has been pouring into little Wildcats at Jenison Public Schools since 1990.  She began her career teaching in a resource room at Bursley Elementary. The following school year brought her to Pinewood Elementary where she taught in the program for the Emotionally Impaired students for 9 years. From there she moved to Rosewood and taught 3rd grade for 12 years.  She has finished out her time with us in the resource room as an Interventions Specialist, and she will be very missed.

While she does enjoy gardening and sewing, she has additional exciting ideas for her upcoming retirement. Rachel and her husband (also a retired teacher) are planning some upcoming trips with their adult kids that include hiking, biking and skiing. 

Rachel plans to take on a unique position of private teaching for a family during the Covid pandemic. I’m also thankful that Rachel will be sharing her knowledge and passion for these special students as she plans to mentor 1st year Special Education teachers who are in Grand Valley’s intern program. 

Stacey Harig – Sandy Hill Elementary 

“I am so thankful for my grade level teams, students, families, and all district staff who I have worked with over the years! It has been a fulfilling experience with many wonderful memories with all of you! I was very fortunate to be a part of Jenison Public Schools!”

Stacey began in Jenison with a student teacher position at Sandy Hill. Following graduation and a year of teaching in Ohio, she came back to stay. She taught first grade for the majority of her career because she loved seeing this unique phase of exponential growth in learning which happens at this grade level. Stacey was a very important part of a huge year of progression for many students. She considers herself a cheerleader for her students long after they have left her first grade classroom.

Stacey and her husband Ron (also a retired Jenison teacher) enjoy family time with their college age children and like to enjoy Michigan outdoor activities as much as possible. They are looking forward to fully retire by moving up north and making new family memories in northern Michigan.

Mary Muller – Rosewood Elementary

“Do what you love. Love what you do. I’ve been lucky enough to say that I’ve been able to do that in my 39 year teaching career. I’m going to miss my many students, the staff, and lifelong friends I’ve made along the way. Hopefully, I’m gone, but not forgotten.”

Mary calls her 40 years of teaching special education students her dream job. She can’t even imagine what she would be if she wasn’t a teacher – it was always her childhood wish. Her favorite moments during the last 4 decades was watching the progress of her students, seeing them as the capable, achieving students they were – who exceeded expectations time and again. One of her hopes as an educator was to instill a love of learning in her students, as she shared her own passion for learning with them.

During retirement, Mary plans to play lots of tennis, pickle ball, golf, and anything else she can do to be active. She’d also like to travel to see the world, and see her grown children more, who currently live out of state. She may even slow down enough to read a book or two in her spare time.

JPS Board of Education Members (3)

The Jenison Board of Education is a group of elected members who work extremely hard to partner with me and the entire Jenison Public School Administration team, the teachers and the community.

I am proud to collaborate with each one of them as they bring their diverse thoughts and experiences to the table, and employ their skills with vigor as we continue to launch our district towards success.

Our board members are on the forefront of our pursuit of relentless commitment to the Jenison Public School district. I am excited to introduce each of our valuable board members to you.

You’ve already met Amanda Peterman, Bill Waalkes, Jennifer Postema and Eric Hartman and this week, we will finish with Craig Jenison, Craig Rockwell and Mark Richter. Thank you, Board of Education, for your passion and dedication to the families of our district.

Craig A. Jenison

Jenison Board of Education, Trustee

As a fifth generation founding family member, Craig Jenison is firmly planted in our community. He married his high school sweetheart, Kelly, and they have proudly seen their two sons go through Jenison Public Schools.

Craig founded his own law firm in 1990, around the same time his oldest son started Kindergarten. Memories of his own experience going through JPS prompted the start of his position on the Board of Education that same year. His love for, and commitment to the families in our community has been nonstop for 30 years. He was also part of the Jenison Athletic Boosters while his boys played a variety of sports. Craig is convinced that there is a high quality life experience to be gained at JPS which needs to be preserved for the success of future generations. Our community has benefited from Craig’s commitment in countless ways over the years.

In his spare time, Craig uses the same level of passion to play golf, spend time with his family up north, and does his best to take advantage of the slower seasons in life.


“It’s been such an honor to be part of an organization that has enjoyed consistent and stable leadership. A district with a history as long as ours but has only had 3 superintendents, speaks volumes of the deep strength and commitment we have seen from these men, as well as the community who supports us.”

“When I first started my position with the Board of Education, I was advised to view every decision through the lens of ‘What is best for our students?’ that advice rings just as true today as it did then. And I believe this is the driving force for our entire board and staff. Over the years, it has also grown to intentionally consider how we can support our students as a whole-person.  Expanding beyond their education in the classroom while showing concern for social, emotional and mental health and wellness. 

Dr. Craig Rockwell

Jenison Board of Education, Trustee

Craig has been part of the Jenison BOE for 14 years. He is every bit an important team player, ready and willing to help out and go the distance for our district.

He established his Jenison based chiropractic practice 38 years ago and has enjoyed being a licensed amateur radio operator for 42 years. Craig and his wife Marjorie have three children that attended Jenison Public Schools. 

He enjoys antique model trains and loves to share this with others. He was instrumental in installing (and now maintaining) the model train that runs at the Early Childhood Center.


“The administrative team at Jenison is fantastic, hardworking and committed to each student. Working with these wonderful people has been one of the highlights of my time on the board. Our district is marked by a very cooperative, team-focused atmosphere and this is a very talented and professional group of people – and the envy of many surrounding districts. I can truthfully tell you that there is none better than our Jenison Administrators.”

“I really love graduation and hearing about all the great accomplishments of the students. As I experience my final Jenison High School graduation ceremony soon and conclude my 14 years on the JPS Board of Education, I would like to thank all my fellow school board members through the years for the help and guidance they have offered. Our district has been blessed with a wonderful group of people and it was a gift for me to have met each one. I also want to thank the voters of Jenison for entrusting the responsibilities of BOE member to me. This has been a great experience, you are special to me and ‘Together, we are Jenison’.”

Mark Richter

Jenison Board of Education, Treasurer

The Richter family may not be Jenison born and raised but they’ve come to love our community and they wasted no time getting involved once their daughters were enrolled here. Mark and his wife Marnie served on the Bursley Parent Club board and also followed their girls into sports and orchestra volunteer opportunities.

Mark is currently President/CEO for a local credit union and in his first term as a member of the Jenison Board of Education. His drive to see our district grow and remain competitive has propelled him through projects of all sizes. While on the Bursley Parent Club board, the group worked together to reclaim an unusable area of the playground by raising funds and donating their Saturday to clean it up. Mark was also the co-chair for a recent ‘Vote Yes for JPS’ committee to pass the JPS bond proposal that helped build the Kids First building, among other items of need for the district.


“Making sure that ALL students feel welcome at JPS is something we work really hard for. I’m glad that we have recently started an Equity Task Force to consider these things. It’s an honor to partner on this committee with other board members, parents, students and administrators.”

“I am excited to be in the BOE role at Jenison and I love that our district has so many programs for students to participate in. The community is truly a strong partner that has given us the resources to excel and put our district on the map. Our natatorium is one of the best on this side of the state and our recently new Jenison Center for the Arts offers a great showcase for our bands, orchestras and performing arts programs.”

Thank you for joining me as I express a well deserved, ‘thank you’ for all of the hard work and dedication from our Board of Education members. These volunteers give their time and energy selflessly as servant leaders, striving to help make Jenison an amazing place to learn and grow. 

I have been very blessed to have the opportunity to work with such gifted, dedicated, and compassionate men and women who serve on the Board of Jenison Public Schools. The strength of their leadership and determination that Jenison Public Schools excel in everything that we do continues to set the bar high for all of us who serve the children and parents of our school district. 

JPS Board of Education Members (2)

The Jenison Board of Education is a group of elected members who work extremely hard to partner with me and the entire Jenison Public School Administration team, the teachers and the community.

I am proud to collaborate with each one of them as they bring their diverse thoughts and experiences to the table, and employ their skills with vigor as we continue to launch our district towards success.

Our board members are on the forefront of our pursuit of relentless commitment to the Jenison Public School district. I am excited to introduce each of our valuable board members to you.

Last week, you met Amanda Peterman and this week you will meet Bill Waalkes, Jennifer Postema and Eric Hartman.

William T. Waalkes

Jenison Board of Education, Trustee

The longevity of Bill’s participation in the Jenison Public School district is remarkable and admirable. Wildcat class of 1971, Bill has been on a journey with JPS from the early days. 

When Bill becomes a part of something – it becomes a part of him. Our district has benefited from his steadfast commitment as he showed up in many ways while his own 3 children were students. This includes being a part of the school improvement team at Bauerwood and sitting on the board of the Jenison Public Education Foundation. Even though Bill is now a grandfather with grandchildren in the district, he hasn’t relinquished his ‘band dad’ title as he continues to own the role of equipment chair person with the Jenison marching band for 21 years.

Retired from Steelcase Payroll Department after 35 years, still logging time preparing tax returns after 40 years and serving JPS as a BOE member for the last 21 years. Bill is a man of numbers and his service is impressive. The numbers we can’t calculate are the countless hours he has spent pouring into our staff and students in small and big ways. 


“As a board of education, we enjoy great cooperation between the schools and parents. Our board members vary in age, work backgrounds, experience and come from different districts, but we all strive to work together to make sure that the Jenison is doing what is best for our students.” 

“Considering we are a relatively new district and are pretty small compared to our neighbors (in land area); we have a very large number of school of choice students. I love being a part of the Jenison family and I’m so proud of the quality of the education that JPS provides – it speaks for itself and makes a mark in our region.”

Jennifer Postema

Jenison Board of Education, Secretary

During the early years of her marriage, Jen and her husband, Adam chose to move to Jenison because of the small, family-friendly community and school district with strong academic and fine arts programs. Today, she works tirelessly to uphold those values and keep our strong reputation intact.

Early on in the education journey of their four children, Jen caught the bug for involvement at Jenison Public Schools. Volunteering in many different classroom and extra curricular capacities, as well as holding formal member positions on boards and advisory committees. 

Jen is authentic in every action and interaction, she is involved and relevant. She engages staff and students of all ages with an open heart and unconditional acceptance. Over the years, she has fallen in love with the family that is Jenison Public Schools and has met every opportunity with more than 100% commitment. Her experiences have allowed her to have a finger on the pulse of families throughout the district and she is a proud advocate for them as a much appreciated board member.


“I consider it an honor and privilege to be serving the Jenison community. I truly care about the students, staff, and families. Investing in the schools not only supports and impacts the success of our students but is a critical investment in our community. I have learned a great deal over the years, and I’m looking forward to more of all of it! Serving the community in love with hard conversations and decisions that protect the integrity of the Jenison tradition of excellence, excites me day after day.”

“My time within this community and district has given me MANY great memories. Above that, are the numerous relationships that I have been blessed with. Long lasting friendships that have made me into a better person. I’m also completely humbled when students tell me that I have made a difference in their lives. Words cannot express how that feels, but little do they know that those students have touched me so much more. I love the experience I have with the students helping backstage in a theater production, and how the students impact me to be a better leader and friend. It’s so much fun to hear the kids’ experience and how something like theater makes a real impact on their lives.” 

Dr. Eric Hartman

Jenison Board of Education, Vice President

Eric is a west Michigan native and he and his wife Kimberly chose Jenison as their home 12 years ago. They enjoy a very full life with their 3 boys. Ryan is going into 3rd grade at El Puente. JJ and Timothy, who recently joined their family through adoption after a 3 year fostering journey, are at Rosewood in 2nd and 1st grade. 

Eric is a well established local business owner with his Chiropractic practice. As a proponent of overall health and wellness, Eric enjoys staying active and grilling up good, healthy food. His lifestyle and core beliefs are appreciated and revealed through his heartfelt and engaged attitude during the decision making process as a board. 


“I have been on the board for 11 years and I get to relive my greatest memory and highlight each year with graduation. We have watched so many of these kids, now young adults, grow up, work so hard, and graduate. Seeing the joy on their faces and the pride exuding from their parents is my highlight. We rotate passing out diplomas and even get the opportunity to request a few students that we are connected with. That extra chance to share in their special day is priceless and the best honor of being on the board of education.”

“Over the years, we have had a number of board members come and go but each has put in their time with a servant heart.  Each member comes in without any significant personal agenda, learns, often from a fire hose at first, all the intricate details of what it takes to run a large school district, then turns around and uses their gifts, education, and life experiences to help advise our administration and district to keep it safe, healthy, and reflect the values that our community have. We remain very unified throughout all our decisions. It’s been an incredible experience to be a part of!”

JPS Board of Education Members

The Jenison Board of Education is a group of elected members who work extremely hard to partner with me and the entire Jenison Public School Administration team, the teachers and the community.

I am proud to collaborate with each one of them as they bring their diverse thoughts and experiences to the table, and employ their skills with vigor as we continue to launch our district towards success.

Our board members are on the forefront of our pursuit of relentless commitment to the Jenison Public School district. I am excited to introduce each of our valuable board members to you over the next few weeks.

Amanda Peterman

Jenison Board of Education, President

A 17 year Jenison resident who deeply loves the close knit feel of our community, Amanda and her husband, Daniel have three children. Between the activities of her children, she has enjoyed being a part of many of the different programs offered by Jenison Public Schools; Parent Club, Marching band, Performing Arts, Athletics, Special Education LINKS program and other clubs.

As a family, they love spending time together outdoors camping, going to the beach, visiting their family cabin up north, summer weeks in South Haven, and trying new restaurants.

Amanda exudes a contagious passion for children and families in her many roles as a volunteer in her church and at school, as well as her full time position with Bethany Christian Services. Her leadership role on our Board of Education is much appreciated as she continues her second 6 year term.


“What I love best about our time together as a board is our monthly meetings. We are given great opportunities to meet and honor various volunteers, teachers and students from all over the district. This time is set aside to learn about and affirm unique contributions to the district that might otherwise go unnoticed! I have met so many amazing parents, students, volunteers, teachers and administrators along the way. From parents building playground equipment, serving as crossing guards to families taking on fundraising for building improvements, to our amazing district Parent Advocate team and all the families they’ve helped along the way, to literacy coaches to media specialists, etc. And the kids!!! That is, of course, the most rewarding aspect of serving on the board – seeing kids blossom and  grow to their potential from grade school up through HS.  We have some amazing leaders in these kids! They are kind, thoughtful and generous.”

“I really do believe our district and our board is unique in that we have safety and space for honest dialogue, but have a deep sense of unity and love for the kids in our district. We also have a strong, healthy relationship with administration as well as with the teachers and the Michigan Education Association. There is strong mutual respect among our groups.”

Books on a Bike

This week, Jenison Pinewood elementary families experienced a fun delivery right in their own neighborhood. Something even more sweet than the summer ice cream trucks! Pinewood Principal, Dr. Rachael Postle-Brown and others from her staff hopped on the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Book Bike. They took turns pedaling around the Pinewood neighborhood, having a great time passing out free books and smiles!

Keeping our students engaged and learning year round is so important and having access to high quality books is crucial for kids to continue reading, especially when they have been out of school for so long. 

Pinewood Elementary already has a free mini library in front of the building that is stocked for families to visit, but the Book Bike was sure to add even more excitement. Bringing the books to students in this unique way also gave the opportunity for staff to see many students, share a book and a friendly hello in a safe and socially distanced way.

Between yesterday evening and this morning, they spent about 4 hours riding through the neighborhood visiting families and students, passing out books and smiles!

The Pinewood Student Council works to raise money to provide school wide book shopping days for all students a few times a year. With the shorter in-person school year, they had plenty of great books ready to be loaded into the Book Bike. The Pinewood student council teachers, Mrs. U’Ren and Mrs. Carpenter pick out and order the books ensuring they have popular titles for all ages.

Dr. Brown (right) was really excited to try this experience when one of her teachers suggested it, “It’s been very difficult to not see our students for this extended break, this was a really great way to be able to bring our community together in a way that was safe for everyone. We distributed just under 100 books!  Which was great for our first ride with the Book Bike. “

I’m so grateful for all our Jenison Staff as they have been relentlessly encouraging their students to stay sharp over the summer. And parents, thank you for partnering with us to encourage your child to read daily. As little as 15 minutes a day will help them maintain academic skills and develop habits that will benefit them now and in the future.