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.

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