Some awards are given based on the student meeting particular academic benchmarks, but others, like the Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award, is given to students who are nominated by their teachers for making strides in areas that includes areas outside of academics such as marked improvement in behavior. And while some awards mark one-time victories, the Exemplary Achievement Award has a two year requirement period. In order to be chosen for this prestigious award students volunteer through community service, be on the honor roll every marking period and be involved in a club or team. The student athletes award winners are required to participate in four seasons of a sport, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, have zero Level Two disciplinary issues and have all ones and twos work and class conduct marks on their report cards. Phew! That’s a lot of hard work!
- M-STEP Award
- Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award
- Perfect Attendance
- Honor Roll
- Presidential Academic Awards
- Science Olympiad Team
- Student Council
- Reading Award
- Spelling Bee Room Finalists
- Above and Beyond [awards for Art, Life Skills, Tech, Music + Student Athletics]
All of the students awarded at Honors Night should be excited about their accomplishments, not only during their junior high years, but for the years that prepared them as well. Throughout their elementary and junior high years they have displayed strong character, strength, and perseverance. They’ve demonstrated time management skills and the ability to problem solve. And they’ve made the decision over and over again to never give up. All of them have worked hard, possibly working through a subject or project that wasn’t their strong suit to succeed and be recognized by the teachers that care about them so deeply.
Thank you to our creative teachers who continuously go above and beyond to make sure our Jenison students are learning in a way that works for them but is also challenging. These stellar students may not be done with their educational journeys, but they have certainly set the bar high for themselves that those around them.
We’re proud of you, Junior High Honorees! These are the life skills that will take you into high school and beyond showing the world the value of a JPS education!
Here at JPS, we do all we can to learn the unique needs of our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum and support them to have productive, challenging, and fun days at school just like every other kid! One of the ways that kids and families are supported is through the Autism Family Network which exists to serve the districts in the more eastern portion of Ottawa County.
Kristen Gray, JPS Teacher Consultant for students on the Autism Spectrum, says, “Autism Family Network was created when Jennifer Breen, who had previously been a board member of Autism Support of West Shore, observed that families from eastern Ottawa County participated in meetings and special events less frequently than those families who resided in western Ottawa County. While events have been organized to be easily accessible to families in Jenison, Coopersville, Hudsonville, and Allendale, AFN welcomes all who would like to attend. The majority of families involved are from Jenison, Coopersville, and Hudsonville, however we also have members from other districts in Ottawa County and a number of districts in Kent County. ”
In an effort to support and engage the families they serve, Autism Family Network hosts a wide variety of opportunities such as bi-monthly parent seminars on a variety of topics*. “There are also monthly family fun events, which allow families to try activities, most often free of charge, without the concern of a meltdown or spending money should a child not want to participate.”
Finally, to support parents who often rely on each other for advice, a listening ear, an understanding nod, or any form of support, monthly parent gatherings are scheduled at places like Panera, where parents can gather to talk. “During the summer and school breaks, the locations of the parent gatherings may change in an effort to accommodate parents who may struggle with child care.”
Parents who would like to join the mailing list should visit www.myautismfamilynetwork.org. Joining the email list does not commit a family, but does ensure updates will be received regarding future events.
One of the ways that the Autism Family Network supports families is through an annual event called, “Celebrate Autism”. While the specifics of this even change each year, the purpose remains the same. “This event is an opportunity for families to celebrate Autism and what it means to the AFN family as a whole. One of the highlights of the event is the distribution of the Essential Piece Awards. These awards are given to individuals nominated by families involved in AFN. Each year, families have the opportunity to nominate one person who has made a difference for their child. During the event, nominees are recognized and given a personalized plaque thanking them for contributing to the Autism community.”
This year, six JPS employees, 1 current student, and 1 JPS retiree were selected as award winners!
Kate Walker – Teacher in ASD program at Bursley
Sara Hayes – Teacher in ASD program at Bursley
Tricia Maday – Teacher in ASD program at the ECC
Jenny vanBiljon – 4th grade teacher at Sandy Hill
Diana Zeitunian – Paraprofessional at the Junior High
Salena Corner – Social worker at Rosewood, Bursley, and Bauerwood
Les Rowsey – Retired vocal music teacher from the high school – now teaching individual music lessons
Thank you to these amazing JPS team members! Our students on the Autism Spectrum are more successful because of you, but our district and our JPS family is better too! If you see one of these incredible people around school, be sure to tell them “way to go” and, of course, “thank you”!
* Currently, these seminars take place at Jenison Junior High, in the media center, on Thursday evenings.
Every year the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District [OAISD] hosts a project for students in Ottawa County called futureprep’d as a way to connect students with some of the world class companies that call West Michigan their home. Sarah Magro, Intervention teacher at Pinewood, applied for the program and was teamed with a teacher in the Grand Haven School District. Each teacher selected three fifth graders to make up the team from Ottawa County to take on the Michigan Design Challenge.
Sponsored by the Michigan Design Council, the Michigan Design Challenge is a statewide competition for educators to work with students to solve an existing problem. Students accomplished this challenge by using Project-Based Learning which is to start with a problem and find the solution through the creative sequence [seen in the photo above].
The challenge this year was to create a device or object to help make MI winters more safe or more fun. But as Ms Magro and her fellow teacher, TJ Klumpel, quickly learned, students have very different ideas for making winter more safe and fun than adults!
The team created a series of Smart Sleds which are built by the customer through a kit of their choosing – based on their interests. For example, they created a racing sled for the daredevil, a safety kit with a helmet and bumper pads for the cautious consumer, and even a “Lazy Joe” kit with a towing feature for those of us who prefer to sled less proactively. What the students created was a solution to both problems – winter would be BOTH more fun and ore safe!
The team’s ideas were submitted to the Michigan Design Challenge in June as well as presented to a crowd of parents and family members at the OAISD for futureprep’d. Then, during Professional Development week in August, Ms Magro got the news that the Ottawa Country team had been selected for the Top 3 statewide in their age bracket! At that point, the team was paired with Stryker to brainstorm their ideas with staff from their industrial design division. The team drew up the kids ideas and the students were also exposed to important careers that are a little outside the box. Every team in Top 3 worked with a different company who, with help from the students, created posters with with their ideas and these posters were brought to the University of Michigan last week for the awards ceremony.
After the judges assessed all the Top 3 entries, Jenison and Grand Haven won the GOLD!
Ms Magro is not only proud of their win, but their hard work along the way as well. “It’s very cool that kids get to work through the creative sequence alongside kids from a another school, another teacher you don’t know, learning about collaboration, teamwork, and finding a solution to a problem – these are all important skills for kids to learn.”
Students take full ownership of the project, receiving only consultation and support from their teachers. Ms Magro is also excited that her students were able to see that there are careers out there that aren’t “cookie cutter” and, for the kid who may have a hard time finding their place, they learn in this process that they will have options.
“I’m very proud of the students for stepping outside the box. We had our own vision of how to make Michigan winters safer, but from a kids perspective, it’s so different. What they came up with was above and beyond what TJ and I thought of. Seeing what students are capable of and the higher level thinking that they’re capable of is incredible.”
Congratulations to the entire Ottawa County team, but especially to our Pinewood Champions: Luke Cousino, Selena Keller, and Meredith Bolhuis! We’re so proud of you and your accomplishments!
*Photo courtesy of the GH Tribune
Last fall, students all across the state of Michigan – including Jenison, of course, took part in state exams. Our kids did their best and little did the Pinewood students know that their amazing scores would automatically nominate them for the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School award!
Once the nomination was announced, members of the Pinewood School Improvement Team went to work on the lengthy application! Jane Miles [2nd grade], Sara Brower [4th grade], Michelle U’Ren [5th grade], Marie Doerr [School Psychologist] and Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown completed the application that included information on school demographics, attendance, the school mission and how it’s accomplished. The application was 25 pages by the time this phenomenal team was done!
The application was sent off to Washington DC where it was conditionally accepted, depending on the next set of test scores. And those scores meant Pinewood met the qualifications for being named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!
Only 340 schools across the country were awarded this prestigious title and only thirteen in Michigan. Pinewood was chosen based on their exceptional level of social, emotional, and behavioral supports offered to children including Social Thinking Curriculum, Whole Brain Teaching, Mindfulness, Teach Like a Pirate, and Trauma-Informed Schools.
Because of these amazing supports and the teachers and students using them every day, the Department of Education has selected Pinewood to be featured alongside 4 – 7 other nationwide schools at the award ceremony in Washington DC next month. A camera crew will be coming to Pinewood to film “A Day in the Life of Pinewood” and all school representatives attending the ceremony from across the country will see the great things happening at Pinewood and Jenison!
Mrs Brown believes Pinewood is a special place because of the way teachers feel about each student there. “Pinewood stands out because teachers embrace every student as their own. Regardless of academic need, social or emotional needs – they are taken care of.” She also wants to thank the Pinewood community saying, “I want to thank the families, who are also part of this award. Thank you for sending your kids here, participating when needed, and being part of the community.”
We are so incredibly proud of the work being done at Pinewood to support ALL students! Our teachers and staff work so hard to make sure students have everything they need to be successful in school and we’re thrilled that the whole country will get to see why! Way to go, Pinewood!
If you’re a regular reader of the Jenison Blog, you have already met our high school star student, Peyton Benac. Last winter, she impressed us with her story of starting the Girls in STEM Club for elementary students, and now she is principal, Dr. Brandon Graham’s choice to round out our special series of awesome Jenison students!
Peyton’s list of accomplishments in a long one but her humility, gentle spirit, and desire to enrich and encourage younger girls is nothing short of inspiring!
Last year, Peyton shared with us that she felt motivated to begin the Girls in STEM Club because of her own experiences on the junior high Science Olympiad team. During her time on the team she heard inappropriate comments from fellow 7th, 8th and 9th grade students about the presence of girls on the team. Peyton was keenly aware of the lack of female leadership in the group and was seeing its impact. “If we had another woman in the room – a high school girl or a female teacher – this would be such a different environment. I noticed that a lot of junior high girls were quitting Science Olympiad, and I was getting pretty frustrated by it even as a junior high student”.
Two years ago, as a sophomore, Peyton began serving as a Science Olympiad coach. “I started coaching sophomore year and I tried to “fill the space” and be that person that wasn’t there when I was a junior high student.” It was at this same time that she approached Mrs. Putti about starting the Girls in STEM Club for elementary students.
This winter Peyton won a National Merit Scholar award which is based on the PSAT which she took during the fall of her junior year. Based on scores, they choose 16,000 students nationwide. These 16,000 students are asked to write an essay, submit their transcript, and a letter of recommendation and the organization chooses 14,000 finalists. With this prestigious award comes varying amounts of scholarships from schools around the country. Financial awards range from a one-time $2500 gift to full ride scholarships depending on the school.
Peyton applied to fourteen schools to “see what happens”. Her schools of choice include Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Boston University, and Harvey Mudd College [a small, prestigous STEM college in Southern CA]. She adds, “I kind of want to go out of state if I can. There’s so much to see.”
Peyton plans to pursue degrees in astronomy and physics. When she is done, she’d like to explore the passion she discovered while working with the elementary students in the STEM program. “I think I want to work more on the outreach side. Teaching college kids is obviously rewarding with high-level material and research – that’s all fun, but there’s nothing that really rivals a seven-year old who’s excited about building the fastest sled or the strongest boat. That’s so unique and important and I think there’s really a need for that encouragement for boys and girls, but especially for girls at those young ages.”
Payton’s aspirations go beyond encouragement. “I would like to teach at the university level and do research but hopefully, from whatever university I’m teaching at, be able to be in charge of whatever they do with younger kids: summer camps, after school programs, inviting kids to campus.”
Peyton sees her role with younger students as one of influence, which she values and appreciates in her own life. “Years ago I liked education, but I didn’t see it on a personal level.” She listened to science podcasts and saw herself in that role or on TV, but once she began working one-on-one and in groups she saw the impact she could have with students in person. “It’s fun to be on TV but way more fun to physically be in the room and there’s a bigger impact to be there.”
Mrs. Putti, Alice’s high school physics teacher, as well as Mr Kunzi and Mrs Sager have been “very instrumental in fostering my love of the STEM subjects. When you think about what it means for girls to not be afraid of that interest, I think it’s so much the personal relationships, having someone TV who is a woman and in STEM is one thing, but having someone who is going to remember your name, and work with you and remember your project, and show you how to do a problem is a totally different thing. The number of people you reach in a career like this is much less but the impact you have on each person is much more.”
Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, Peyton! We are so proud of you and know you will continue to make us proud as you head East and continue to conquer the STEM world! We love being able to call you a Wildcat!
Earlier this month Jenison 8th grader, Emma Scott, was honored at GlenEagle Golf Club as the winner of the 2016 Future Leader in the Making Award! This is the first year for the award which was offered and presented by the Grandville-Jenison Chamber of Commerce.
Junior High Principal, Brett Cataldo [pictured below], attended the event but was also Emma’s nominator. “Emma is a positive, smart, compassionate young lady. Emma is a leader by example in all of her classes. She is a positive peer for students in her classes. Emma sets an example of being a team player, respectful and exhibits the Cat Character Traits from JJHS – Caring, Integrity, Citizenship, and Self Discipline.”
Emma has taken full advantage of the opportunities at Jenison Junior High by participating in Choir, Orchestra, and advanced classes such as Challenge American History, and Advanced Math. “She works extremely hard academically and brings the thinking in her classes to a higher level. In addition is a talented singer and had a lead role last winter in our Junior High musical Once Upon A Mattress. Emma also participated in softball.”
The idea for the award was prompted a few years ago after the community experienced the flooding and the eight year old son of a Chamber member took a leadership role with a weekend of cleanup. When the Chamber decided to move forward with the idea the age range of 13 – 17 year olds was established and the criteria for nomination were “for activities or significant contributions that resulted in the improvement and quality of life for the residents and or businesses of the Grandville/Jenison/GTWP Communities.”
Sandy LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Grandville-Jenison Chamber of Commerce had the difficult task of deciding between the eight candidates but says that Emma stood out because she “is a very well rounded student who excels not only academically but also in the arts, sports, and shares her talents singing to the elderly. She sets the bar high for fellow students and is definitely a “Future Leader in the Making”.”
Emma, ‘congratulations’ from the entire JPS family! We are so proud of your hard work, talents and spirit of giving back. You exemplify what it means to be a Jenison Wildcat!
We are extremely proud to announce that the United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has designated Bursley Elementary School a National Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence!
Bursley Principal, Wayne Brown, says, “This fantastic honor validates the collective efforts of the motivated students, the devoted teachers, and the supportive parents of Bursley.”
On September 29th, 2015, it was announced that Bursley Elementary was selected to receive the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award from the United States Department of Education. They are one of only thirteen schools in Michigan to receive the Blue Ribbon award for 2015 and one of only 500 schools in the entire nation. Bursley Elementary qualified for this special recognition based on their overall academic excellence as well as their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Bursley Elementary will be honored at a ceremony November 9th and 10th in Washington, D.C. and will receive a plaque and flag signifying the “National Blue Ribbon” status. The award plaque affirms the work of students, educators, and parents in creating a safe and welcoming school where students master challenging content.
Bursley Elementary School serves 492 students in grades K-6 as part of the Jenison Public School District. The school takes pride in its focus on excellence and educating every student who is a part of our school community. Their journey is contingent on collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in the school and with the community.
Bursley teachers are proud of this achievement and the work that students and staff do every day:
3rd grade teacher, Ric Blank: “I have had the privilege to work with many schools and staffs over the past few years and am very lucky to have had Bursley as one of them. It is very exciting for our school to be recognized this way and I know that we will continue the high standards we have set here!”
Rebecca Chicklon, 5th grade Spanish Immersion: “I am thrilled to be celebrating with the Burlsey students and staff who have received this prestigious title. Being a Blue Ribbon school means teachers and staff have worked tirelessly to serve a diverse group of students, their needs, and their interests. They have met students where they were at, and students have responded with equal dedication and effort to make great gains in closing the achievement gap. I look forward to upholding myself and my students to this standard of excellence.”
“Our staff at Bursley works really hard to make sure that all kids are successful. They care about the whole child and do all that they can to help them achieve. I know that we have teachers across the district that do the same thing, but it was great to be recognized for making a difference for many of our kids here at Bursley. Our staff, students and families work really hard and are excited to be awarded a National Blue Ribbon”, says Amy Hage, 1st grade teacher
“This is an incredible honor and one of the highest levels of recognition that an individual school can receive. The effort that the entire Bursley staff poured into each and every student day in and day out over the years has paid huge dividends in terms of their overall student achievement. They have beaten the odds and out performed schools throughout the nation in closing the achievement gap among their subgroups. We all should be very proud that they are being recognized for the work that they have done to insure that each and every student is successful in their learning and achieving at a high level.” – Tom TenBrink, Superintendent
Please join with me in CONGRATULATING the staff and students of Bursley elementary for all of their efforts in being awarded the National Blue Ribbon School award!
It all began when Pinewood Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown nominated Julie Clark and the ACT program for The Today’s Show’s “Cool School” feature. Ms. Postle-Brown knew she was an ideal candidate for a story because “Julie is very creative when it comes to her lesson planning. She is always looking for new and exciting ways to get the students engaged. Julie also is very focused on teaching content standards and challenging the students. This combination ensures her lessons are covering necessary content while keeping students excited and connected to the experiences.”
The ACT program, or ACademically Talented, is housed at Pinewood Elementary and Ms. Clark works with just over 200 Jenison students in third through sixth grades. “The program gives a chance for our students to challenge themselves and push beyond the traditional classroom limits. It is an opportunity for them to bond with students from other buildings and build a community based on loving learning and academic excellence. We provide an array of supports and interventions for students who are struggling and we want to be sure we are offering the same supports to students who are excelling. Our job as educators is to meet every student where they are at and to help them grow and go further. ACT let us do that for our gifted learners.” – Ms Postle-Brown
Mrs. Clark’s visit to NBC’s The Today Show featured her and current ACT third grader, Morri McCluggage, as well! They featured her lesson on using carnival games to to teach probability and had constructed Morri’s game to be played on the show. In the classroom, students played “various games [such as dice games, board games, card games, etc.] in which we explored data collection, measures of central tendency, theoretical and experimental probabilities of the games, the likelihood of winning, fractions, and percents. The students were asked to show what they learned by developing their own carnival games and rules.”
As part of this culminating activity, we invited parents and other classrooms to play our games. The ACT students put on their “teacher hats” by asking players to make predictions about the likelihood of winning their games, teaching the mathematics involved, and explaining whether or not their game was “fair.” In the end, the students were able to showcase their learning through a hands-on, team, or self-led project.”
When Morri was asked to join her beloved teacher on the show her response she couldn’t believe it. “When Mom asked me in my head I said,”WAAAAAAAAA, this is just a dream. I will wake up now.” Then I pinched myself on the face hard. Turns out it was real. It felt awesome.” [Emoji’s her own.]
Morri was joined by her dad in NYC and Mrs Clark by her husband. They didn’t get a lot of time to sight see but did have the opportunity to experience the behind-the scenes action of TV! “[Last Wednesday morning we] headed over to the “green room” for hair and make-up. Imagine our delight when Tom Brokaw and John Cena sat right between us! To top that off, Lionel Richie was warming up in a room behind our chairs. Carson Daly, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford also passed by and gave us a big thumbs ups! As we were waiting to go on-air, we were excited to have the opportunity to see Wrangler [the Today Show’s service dog]. Of course, we wanted to get a picture with him [let me tell you, puppy kisses before going “on-air” are fantastic!].
Once we got on set, Natalie Morales greeted us as we prepared for our segment. Our three minutes on-air flew by! Afterwards, we had an opportunity to chat briefly with Natalie, John, and Willie Geist. It was clear that the hosts, producers, and crew members were excited about our segment and really interested in featuring our nation’s “Cool Schools” in such a positive light.”
Mrs Clark is a JPS graduate and has been working in the district for nine years. She is challenged by her students and loves to design learning experiences that are hands-on and challenging. “Fun is a passion of mine. As an educator, it is important to me to open the minds of my students to an array of learning possibilities while helping them to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Above all, I want my students to know how special they are as unique individuals.” She also acknowledges that working with this group is not without it’s [good] challenges. “My students are able to manipulate ideas and draw generalizations. I appreciate when they are excited to teach me and share their personal problem solving strategies — it certainly keeps me on my toes!”
“Unfortunately in today’s media a positive story on education is not always easy to find. I really appreciate the Today Show and NBC doing a series that shows all of the amazing things that happen in public education across the country. Julie was the perfect representative for all of the great things that happen at Pinewood and throughout Jenison. Julie is one of many awesome teachers we have and when I walk into classrooms throughout my building every day I am impressed with passion and enthusiasm every Jenison teacher has for their students.” – Ms. Postle-Brown
Of course, you can see Mrs. Clark and Morri rock national TV by clicking here.
Congratulations to Julie, Morri and all of the ACT students who were represented! We are so proud of you and thrilled you got to show the whole country how awesome things are happening every day at JPS!
There are four components to DECA involvement: Leadership, Community Service, Career Exploration and Competition. In the Competitive component, Faculty Adviser, Brenda Clark, says that students first compete in Districts, which takes place locally, and if they qualify they move on to State and then to Internationals. “There are lots of different competitive events but the main types are: Series Event [students compete as individuals], Management [compete as a team] and the School-Based Enterprise Competition which is where these students made it into the Top 10. It’s about documenting all the processes, and policies of the School-Based Initiative” Students work in a team of three and are required to write an initial paper that is 60 – 80 pages in length and is written and revised over the course of five years as different students rotate in and out of the team. The students must include documentation on all processes, forms used in the store, accounting and Human Resource practices, pictures, marketing practices and product service.
If they achieved the highest level of certification, which is Gold Certification, they were invited to compete at the international level where they are asked to present on one element of the business. This year the team was required to focus their work on HR practices and include, a 15 minute presentation that won this team first place in the category and helped them reach the Top Ten overall. They beat out 200 teams in the preliminaries, only 20 teams are invited to the finals and ten teams are honored at the Grand Awards Session.
Dr Clark wants to recognize that these students [demonstrate] “a level of professionalism, critical thinking and problem solving skills that you don’t see often in college graduates. The one thing that DECA does is bring real life experiences to theoretical learning.” The three students involved in the School-Based Enterprise [Senior, Abbie Davis and Sophomores Austin Gardner and Sydney Swenson] wanted to “wow” the judges with much more than the average slides and boards so they asked the judges to play the role of their employees at The Green Bean and participate in an abbreviated version of training and a brief quiz on what they learned. The judges were clearly pleased and the students left the presentation feeling confident.
“We wanted to make ourselves stand out; be really unique.” says team member, Abbie Davis. Abbie will be using the skills she acquired with DECA this summer as she works in a full-time internship at a recruiting firm. “They were incredibly impressed with the fact that I could prepare a resume and cover letter and follow up with thank you notes in the mail. The woman that hired me said that I was competing against people that have been in college for two or three years and they turned down every single person because they did not have the professional skill set I had. DECA gives you real life, hands on experience that you can’t get from a book.”Senior, Monique Viau, spent her third year in DECA serving as the elected State Officer. She joined the group to further her career and “DECA is an organization that can help you see different career paths and see what will work well for you”. Monique also used her DECA-acquired skills to beat out college-age students for a full time internship in Ann Arbor this summer at a digital marketing firm.
Senior, Madison O’Dell plans to use what she learned with DECA to follow in her mom’s footsteps as an entrepreneur and business woman. Madison wants to open her own wedding planning business one day and is thankful for her two years with DECA as she looks forward to her future. “Competition really prepares you for the skills you’ll need and it teaches you how to present yourself well .”
“I didn’t really think about business as a job for me but now that I’ve been taking so many business classes it gives me a wider range of experiences and what I can do in the future. I will probably get a minor in business.” says junior, Hannah Huizen and DECA member for the last two years. DECA is open to any high school student at Jenison who is currently or was previously enrolled in a business class. Everything they are learning in the classroom, they can apply to competition.