Bursley Elementary is a National Blue Ribbon School!

2000px-National_Blue_Ribbon_Schools_seal.svgWe 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.

MIII4717 copyBursley 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:

MIII4726 copy3rd 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!”

MIII4747 copyRebecca 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!

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ACT Teacher Julie Clark on The Today Show!


Julie Clark brings Wildcat Pride to New York’s Rockefeller Center!

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.”

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Julie Clark introducing a new lesson in her classroom.

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.Neutral FaceSmiling face with open mouth Turns out it was real. It felt awesome.Thumbs up signSmiling face with smiling eyes”  [Emoji’s her own.]

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Proud ACT Students!

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.”


Julie Clark + Morri McCluggage in NYC with their Today Show Probability Plinko souvenirs!

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!”

MIII8299 copyMorri is certainly thankful for Mrs. Clark’s hard work:  “ACT is a challenging, but it is fun! Mrs. Clark is the best teacher ever!!Pencil”  Mrs. Postle-Brown agrees, “Julie builds great relationships with her students and there families.  Students and parents love her for her welcoming and kind nature.”

“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!

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DECA Students Bring Home a Win!

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L to R in front: Maguire Smith, Sydney Swenson, Hannah Huizen, Abbie Davis, Madison O’Dell L to R in back: Austin Gardner, Monique Viau [Not pictured Heather Garvelink & Shayley Unger]

Earlier this month Jenison High School was represented at the International competition for DECA and proudly won a spot in the Top Ten for their School-Based Enterprise program:  The Green Bean Cafe!  DECA is a student organization at Jenison High School, preparing students for careers in business, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship.

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.”

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DECA students joined by Advisers Jordan Malone and Brenda Clark [back 2 right]

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.

Congratulations to all of the hard working and dedicated students of DECA!  Your forward-thinking and professionalism is inspiring and encouraging to all who meet you!  Good luck to our seniors as they use their skills in the “real world” and we know we’ll be hearing more from our sophomores and juniors in the coming year!

Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame Inducts First Class!

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Last Saturday evening almost 200 people filled the Grandville Banquet Center to celebrate and honor the inaugural class of the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame!  According to Booster President, Dave Krombeen, they have been talking about the Hall of Fame for fifteen years and two years ago the volunteer committees finally started coming together to make a memorable evening for all involved. “[The inductees] are all keystones to the success of Jenison athletics.  Everybody was part of building that sport for us and I can’t wait to hear them speak and share their thoughts on what Jenison meant to them.”

The event had a two-fold purpose:  recognize outstanding athletes but also to raise funds on behalf of the Boosters.  Guests were treated to a large silent auction during cocktail hour that included a variety of locally donated items and gift baskets.  The auction included an autographed Red Wings jersey, Tigers tickets and much more! By the end of the evening the auction alone had raised $8000!

Six former Jenison athletes and two former members of the Jenison coaching and administration staff were inducted as the first class and nearly all of them were present and humbled by the honor.

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey [center] with friends

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey [center] with friends

Jennifer Crisman-Coffey (1997)
Swimming/Water Polo
“It’s a really great honor to be recognized with some of the greatest athletes at Jenison; it’s exciting!”  Jenny starred at Jenison in swimming and water polo before continuing her career in both sports at the University of Michigan. She later competed in two United States Swim Trials and was a member of the USA National Swim and Water Polo teams.  As the current Jenison Aquatics Director, swimming and water polo coach, “I really try to instill a love of the sport and it’s really fun to give back to a sport and the community that I love so much.”

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Curt Pals and Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll

Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll (1986)
“Athletics make you who you are.” Sara was Jenison’s first All-State and Division I softball player for the Wildcats. She starred at the University of Michigan for four years and was a member of the 1992 USA national softball team before returning to assist her high school coach, Jerry Hoag, and help guide the Wildcats to three state titles.  Sara is especially passionate about opportunities and encouragement for female athletes.

Curt Pals
Athletic Director
Curt served as Jenison’s athletic director from 1976-1999, and during those years, the school added volleyball, softball, girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, water polo and hockey. Those teams have combined to win nine state titles.  When Curt was serving as Athletic Director he thought about starting a Hall of Fame so he is especially thankful for all the hard work that went into launching it this year.  He enjoys hearing the sportsmanship announcement at the beginning of games noting that he wrote it during his tenure.  He was proud to be recognized and added, “It’s a nice honor and I hope we set a good example” for current students.

Dave VanSurksum & his wife Jennifer [& a grandchild!]

Dave VanSurksum & his wife Jennifer [& a grandchild!]

Dave VanSurksum (1976)
Dave, who is still Jenison’s all-time scoring leader, led the Wildcats to their first district championships in 1974 and 1976. He later played for Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University.  “This is the culmination of something that is close and dear to me.”  His wife, Jennifer, adds that being inducted means “everything” to Dave.  He believes that Jenison prepared him for his success by giving him a “ton of confidence, direction in terms of knowing that athletics will always be part of my life; I’m competitive because of it and I try to use that in my every day tasks.”

Jerry Hoag, busy with his fans

Jerry Hoag
Jerry coached Jenison’s softball team for 19 years, guiding the Wildcats to six state championships and 14 OK Red Conference titles. He completed his career with an overall record of 529-95.  “You can’t put this kind of thing into words.”  “I hope [current students] can take a look at the history of athletics at Jenison High School and say, “I want to be part of that” and then they’ll start working for it.  It doesn’t come easy.”


Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson with friends

Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson [far right] with friends

Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson (1995)
Jenny is Jenison’s only athlete to earn all-state honors in three different sports. She went on to play volleyball at Michigan State University and later competed for the USA National Volleyball Team and professionally in the United States and Greece.  Jenny says that her preparation at Jenison is “beyond words” and her coaches [especially basketball and volleyball] were mentors to her. She adds that her volleyball coach really prepared her “to be a great Division I volleyball player” and now that has Jenny has become a coach, she continues to be mentored in that role as well.

Mark Dewey

Mark Dewey

Mark Dewey (1982)
“As far as accolades and honors, I’ve received as an athlete, this is the most special.”  Mark played a key role on Jenison’s first OK Red championship team in 1982 before going on to pitch at Grand Valley State University and in the Majors. He played 12 years professionally, including seven with the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.  Mark knows that his preparation for becoming a successful athlete rests, first and foremost with his coaches and then with this teammates and opponents.  “They were good coaches and that was a tremendous benefit…and they were good athletes, good baseball players, in particular, and when you have good coaches and good competition that makes for becoming a good athlete.”

Paul Grasmanis (1992)
Mr. Grasmanis, an All-State and All-American lineman his senior year at Jenison, played four years at Notre Dame and 10 seasons in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 1996 draft. He played defensive end for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.  Paul was, unfortunately, unable to attend the event.

“This event is a way for us to celebrate the student athletes that have come through Jenison and the great contributions that they’ve made to our athletic program and our school.  I’m proud that our Athletic Boosters put this together and it’s a great way to honor the people that have built up our athletic program and competed at the highest levels.”  — High School Principal, Brandon Graham

Dave Krombeen welcomes guests

Dave Krombeen welcomes guests

Silent auction items were entirely donated by local businesses and community members!

Silent auction items were entirely donated by local businesses and community members!

A sampling of the commemorative plaques honoring the inductees

A sampling of the commemorative plaques honoring the inductees

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A great time was had by all!

Congratulations to all of the inductees and we can’t wait to see who, among our current students, will join your ranks in the future!

Michelle U’Ren Honored with the Excellence in Education Award!

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Michelle U’Ren, 5th grade teacher at Pinewood, was recently honored with the Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery!  The Excellence in Education awards were recently established to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state during the school year.

Mrs. U’Ren has been a teacher for 13 years, the last 10 teaching fifth grade with the Jenison Public Schools.  She says, “I love seeing smiles on kids’ faces, seeing their eyes light up with excitement, hearing shouts of excitement when they are successful.  I go above and beyond to ensure my students have the very best experiences possible.”

MIII1907 copyWinners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $500 cash prize and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district.  One of the weekly winners will be selected as the Educator of the Year and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.  The nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:  Excellence, Dedication, Leadership, Inspiration and Effectiveness.  Michelle was highlighted on Fox 17 on February 17 and honored at the February School Board Meeting as well.

Mary Muller, Rosewood Intervention Specialist, saw all of this and more in Michelle and nominated her for the award.  Mary says that Michelle is, “one of those truly exceptional teachers who makes us all a little better for having just known her. Michelle U’Ren is someone who changes lives and inspires students and teachers to do great things. We’ve all had that one teacher who helped shape our lives and helped us believe that we could be something more. For many people that teacher is Michelle U’Ren.”

Michlle's husband, Ryan, Michelle and Tom Izzo

Michelle’s husband, Ryan, Michelle and Tom Izzo

The Excellence in Education awards program is a team effort between the Lottery, Fox 17 and Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.  Izzo met recently with Michelle [and the other nine award winners] at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.  All of the nominees also received a special, behind-the-scenes tour of the Breslin Center.

Mrs. U’Ren said that the opportunities to help students succeed attracted her to a career in education.  “I love the idea that I can play a role in shaping a student’s academic, personal and social life.  Knowing I can make a difference is empowering.”

One of the main ways that Michelle is empowering her students is through staying current with teaching techniques and the use of technology in the classroom.  Her students have their own blogs, use Twitter and many other websites and online tools.  “We use Skype, blogs, and social media in the classroom to connect globally, we use brain gym and movement breaks throughout the day to keep our minds active. Our classroom has several flexible seating options including balance balls, T stools and wobble chairs.  These enhance engagement by allowing movement, sensory input and energy burning!”

MIII1935 copyRachael Postle-Brown, Pinewood Principal, says that there are two aspects of Michelle’s teaching that make her unique:  “She does an amazing job of bringing the content to life for the kids, really working to make the experiences authentic for them and she works really hard to make the teachers around her better.  She’s always open to sharing techniques and collaborating with them and doesn’t hesitate if someone is asking questions or needs help.  So the amazing things that are happening in her room start happening in other rooms.

To keep the curriculum engaging for her students, Michelle has been “using a new social studies and writing curriculum written by Oakland County that incorporates the Michigan and Common Core State Standards. I’ve been incorporating document based questioning into units.  This  is where students are presented with a historical question and presented with several primary and secondary resources. Students use the documents to form an opinion about the question and then debate and defend their answers citing evidence. It is very higher level thinking! In math,  I incorporate manipulatives and hands on activities so students understand the process of math rather than strict memorization. There is also much research that says the best way to become a better reader is through reading, reading, reading. So my students are participating in a 40 book challenge this school year!

“[Michelle] is not loud or outspoken, but leads through quiet confidence.  The activities that she does with her class are new and innovative, but also demonstrate a high level of expectations and knowledge of the curriculum.  She really pushes students to their highest potential. She takes troubled students under her wing providing them with tough love,” says Mary Muller

“The relationships that I make are my favorite part about being an educator.  It’s wonderful to be able to create lasting relationships with students, collaborative relationships with parents, and partnerships with my colleagues,” she said, adding that her students motivate her to do her best every day in the classroom.

Congratulations Michelle!  We are so proud of you and thankful for your dedication to our students!  We love having you in the JPS family!

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Junior High Teacher Named Science Teacher of the Year!

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The entire district and especially Jenison Junior High is so proud to announce that Holly McGoran has been named by the Michigan Science Teachers Association as the 2015 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year!

Ms McGoran was selected after being nominated by Jenison Curriculum Director, Kristi Rogalla, and Junior High Principal, Brett Cataldo, “for using or modeling best practices, inspiring students, demonstrating innovative teaching strategies, being an excellent role model for students and other teachers, demonstrating leadership, and exhibiting a passion for science and for teaching.”   – MSTA

After the nomination was made Holly had to submit her resume and teaching philosophy, which she did somewhat reluctantly as is her humble nature.

8th grade students with their "earthquake proof" structures they made from straws, paper clips, string and masking tape in Ms McGoran's class.

8th grade students with their “earthquake proof” structures they made from straws, paper clips, string and masking tape in Ms McGoran’s class.

“When they did the surprise announcement it was nothing I had ever anticipated because there’s a lot of hard working teachers that do what’s right for kids.  It’s an honor to be part of this prestigious group of people.  They are all people who are so dedicated to kids first and then science and I think that’s what’s really cool about it.  The award wasn’t just focused on science content and curriculum it was focused on how you relate to the kids, how you work with your colleagues first and then science is the avenue to do so.  Knowing that all of those people are so wonderful with kids to begin with and then we work through science is really cool.”  — Holly McGoran

“I would put Holly up against any teacher in the nation because of the way she builds relationships with kids and she works tirelessly to have the best lessons out there.  She works with our highest achieving students and students that need that extra help along with her.  To watch her teach for an hour just gives you goosebumps.  She makes science fun and even our reluctant learners are motivated and having so much fun learning that they don’t even realize they’re learning.”  — Brett Cataldo

Mr Cataldo stresses that one of the reasons Holly is an exceptional teacher is her ability to connect with students, allowing them to explore a subject and by sharing the classroom with them which creates a safe environment for learning.  Holly has devoted her entire 16 year teaching career to Jenison Public Schools which she counts as a privilege.  “There’s so much support from administration and my colleagues and it’s such a great opportunity.  I feel so blessed to be able to learn alongside my students and my colleagues each and every day because that’s my inspiration.”

“The staff, the administration, the students, the parents, everybody really embraces education and all aspects of education.  It’s not just grades and report cards.  It’s before and after school, relationship building — everybody in the community really embraces that so it allows you to be able to innovate wildly. Without knowing that everybody around you is supporting education you could never innovate wildly.

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“It’s so fun to have them acting and thinking like scientists, that’s what really motivates me.”  

Superintendent Tom TenBrink agrees:  “Holly McGoran is a highly effective and exceptional science teacher. She is a master teacher who is skilled at getting her students engaged in the everyday learning that occurs in her classroom. Mrs. McGoran understands the importance of building meaningful and positive relationships with her students in order for them to be successful learners in her classroom. She is passionate about her subject matter and brings an enormous amount of energy to her classroom every single day. We are very excited for Mrs. McGoran that she was chosen as the State of Michigan’s Middle School Teacher of the year for 2015 by her peers. She definitely exemplifies the very best that the teaching profession has to offer.” — Tom TenBrink

Holly will be honored and officially awarded at a special ceremony at the 2015 MSTA Conference held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel on Friday, February 27, 2015.  “We are proud to include Holly in the prestigious list of MSTA award winners.”

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Please join us in congratulating Holly for this incredible honor!

Dan Scott Named Director of the Year

Dan Scott, Director of Orchestras at Jenison High School has been given the prestigious honor of being named the Director of the Year by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.  Dan Scott

Last Spring we told you about the nomination process for Mr. Scott which was the first step on this exciting journey.  He was nominated [alongside Mr. Zamborsky] by his peers in District 10 which is comprised of Allegan, Ottawa and Kent counties and this past June the nominations were narrowed down to only 3 teachers by the Executive Board of the MSBOA.  Then, in December, those 3 band and 3 orchestra teachers are voted on by the statewide membership of the MSBOA.  The winners are announced in January at DeVos Hall during the performance of the All-State Band and Orchestra performances.

There will be an official presentation in May at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival where Mr. Scott will guest conduct the Michigan Youth Arts Festival honors orchestra.
“It is an absolute honor to be on this list.  The previous recipients of this award are some of the most respected teachers in my profession and I have looked up to many of them for years.  To have my name on the same list as these people is a true honor.  Its also special that this award is voted on by band and orchestra teachers throughout the state.”  — Mr. Scott
For the past 17 years Mr. Scott has had many opportunities to see his students grow and give back and he is thankful for the many great opportunities Jenison has provided him as a teacher. He is especially thankful for the chance to travel with the orchestras to Disney World.  Last year they were able to add a performance at Give Kids the World which is a Disney resort dedicated to children with terminal diseases or serious health concerns.  The orchestra performed for these families as they waited to see Santa and as children passed by, many in wheelchairs, “tears streamed down several of our students’ faces as they performed for these families.  I will never forget that night.”
Mr. Scott is also thankful for the connection to former students that Facebook has allowed him:
“The most gratifying thing about my career is when students who have been away from the program for years, after college or in college, and they send me a message saying how they “got their violin out and played some music from the past”.  To see how playing their instrument becomes a part of their life after JHS is easily the biggest reward my students can give me.”

Knowing that no teacher works alone, Mr. Scott is especially grateful to his fellow staff at Jenison:  “The music department is a rare group of professionals who are all tops in their profession.  They are all wonderful teachers who consistently amaze me how they show their love for students, music and education.  In 2002, Carol Johnson joined the orchestra program, taking over the JH program and her partnership is one of the biggest reasons Jenison has the orchestra program it has today.”

We join the MSBOA in saluting you, Mr Scott!  We’re so proud to have you on our team!

Jenison Senior Wins Distracted Driving Billboard Contest

With the increasing prevalence of cell phones and the temptation of text messaging, accidents have been on the rise and drivers young and old have reason to be wary. That’s why the Ottawa County Sheriffs office has educated high school students on the dangers of distracted driving for the past five years.

After spending time in Ottawa County high schools and teaching specifically on the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel, officers turned the teaching over to the students. They presented them with the opportunity of a lifetime: create a piece of art that will be displayed on westbound 196 in Grand Rapids.

We are proud to announce that for the second year in a row, a Jenison High School student has won first place! Senior Cody McConnell will have his creation (seen below) positioned near the Market Avenue exit.

Jenison High School, Distracted Driving, Ottawa County

Mrs. Moynihan is the JHS art teacher who assigned the billboard project to her entire Computer Creations 2 class. Using it as an opportunity to introduce various graphic design fundamentals, she showed the class “two very emotional videos in addition to having deputies come in.” She also secured a driving simulator so that her students could clearly see and experience what it’s like to drive while distracted.

Cody was Mrs. Moynihan’s student in both Computer Creations 1 and 2. She shares, “During the 1st computer class his designs showed a lot of promise so I strongly encouraged him to take the second class as he would be able to take the creative part of his work to the next level.”

After three years of participating and two first place awards, Mrs. Moynihan couldn’t be more thrilled.
“I really enjoy introducing this project to my students every year. It’s a difficult subject to address for some of the kids but I think the message to drive safe and keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is one worth hearing. I know my own driving habits have changed for the better since working with this program.”

Congrats to Cody for winning this important, life-saving contest!

Sound the Trumpets: Prestigious Honors Go to JHS’ Mr. Zamborsky & Mr. Scott

If you thought that brackets and championships were just for March Madness, you’d be wrong. Because while Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott didn’t shoot hoops for these awards, the stakes and the honor that go along with them are just as high, and the applause from the crowd is just as loud.

We are thrilled to share that earlier this month, both Orchestra teacher Dan Scott and Band teacher Dave Zamborsky received word that they had been nominated by their peers and elected as District 10 Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) Teachers of the Year! 

Jenison Public Schools, Dave Zamborsky, Dan Scott, MSBOA Awards

There are sixteen MSBOA districts in the State of Michigan, and Jenison lands in district 10 which is comprised of roughly 150-200 schools spanning from Northern Allegan to Lowell.

To draw a comparison between music education and athletics, these districts could be thought of as the OK Conferences for music. One distinguishing factor in this situation, however, is that our directors were identified as outstanding by their peers, and voted on to win Teachers of the Year.

“For me, that’s what means the most. I’m really flattered to have been chosen by my colleagues,” said Mr. Scott.

“Winning these accolades speaks volumes about the reputation of Jenison’s program,” added Mr. Zamborsky.

Pushing the significance of this honor to greater heights is the fact that no two teachers from the same school have ever won before! In fact, there are some districts in Michigan (typically the smaller ones) that vote only to honor either one band or one orchestra teacher, but not both.

This year changed everything when the MSBOA members voted to recognize the work of both a band and an orchestra instructor — and both from the same high school. This has never happened before!

“This award really highlights the well-roundedness of our entire program, both in band and in orchestra,” noted Mr. Zamborsky.

Moving forward, winners from all sixteen districts will go to the “state finals” on June 3, where three finalists from each category will be chosen to be presented to the MSBOA membership in the fall. Then, from December 2013 to January 2014, these same members will vote on one orchestra and one band teacher to be recognized –not just as superior in their district — but as exemplary in the state.  Results of the final voting will be made public on January 14, 2014.

If Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott earn this recognition from their peers, they will have the opportunity to conduct the All-State Honors Band and Orchestra at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in May 2014.

Please join me in congratulating these men on this unprecedented achievement! We are so lucky to have them both leading Jenison’s music program!

JPS Art Programs Win Gold

During a summer of Olympic excitement, the eyes of the world are turned to television screens everywhere, counting gold medals and rooting for the stars and stripes. What we may not realize is that gymnasts and sprinters aren’t the only hopefuls when it comes to winning.

Artists also compete, and over the past few years, Jenison has consistently been on the podium holding gold. To showcase the accomplishments of students from elementary school through senior high, teachers Emily Derusha and Lindsay Moynihan compiled the video you’ll see below. From Art Prize to Art Moves, our award-winning programs pull away from the crowd!

Just as athletes have multiple types and levels of competition, Jenison art students are involved with a variety of competitions each year:

  • MAEA (Michigan Art Education Association)
  • Region and State Show
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
  • Debut Show at the Holland Area Arts Council
  • Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids
  • our own JPS Art Moves

Judging at each of these competitions involves an adjudication process under the trained eyes of professional judges. A “passing score” moves the piece onward and upward, eventually culminating in the work begin displayed at a gallery or museum with a full reception for the artist and his or her parents, family, and friends.

Mrs. Moynihan, an MAEA liaison, says that winning moments at galleries and museums, while applause-worthy, are only part of the story. The “small wins” she sees in her classroom on a daily basis begin when students who don’t think they’re “good at anything” begin to express an interest in art.

“I’m so passionate about the visual arts and feel so fortunate to be a part of such a strong program with amazing art educators. I’m just proud to be part of a program that is so supportive of the visual arts.”

Congrats to all the artists and teachers who so beautifully represent the Jenison Public Schools art program! For a complete list of competitions and winners from the 2011-2012 school year, please click HERE.