Warriors of Virtual Learning

While we cannot pretend that this last week of virtual learning was without its own frustrations, there’s no denying the outstanding effort our teachers and staff put forth to remain connected to each and every Jenison student. I am extremely proud of our teachers as they delivered their individually built virtual curriculum and our hardworking students (not to mention their home support systems!) It was great to see the hardworking smiles on both sides of the screens.

The Jenison staff has risen to every challenge with great commitment and professionalism! They are true Champions of Children. I am so excited to have the Elementary and Junior High buildings back in face to face instruction and am hopeful the high school can enjoy the same very soon.

Jenison students (whose parents are teachers or staff) were able to complete their virtual school day at the ECC. It was important for these students to have this opportunity so their parents could focus completely on being the best they could be for their students.

Pinewood students were able to be focused, engaged and comfy during their week of virtual learning.

While it is no comparison to being in person, teachers loved being in their own classroom environments (as opposed to being at home like last spring) with no masks. And they loved the chance to see all the happy faces with no masks smiling back at them!

Happenings at Bauerwood

We’re so grateful for the face to face classroom experience we’ve had the past 12 weeks, and all of our Jenison Public School teachers and staff have really made the most of it. Fundraisers, playground activities and field trips all helped make this fall feel pretty normal at Bauerwood Elementary.

Minds in Movement

For the past 11 years, the Bauerwood Family Network has been able to fund many great fun and educational experiences for their students. And the annual Minds in Movement walkathon is what helps them kick off each year with a big bang.

Minds in Movement gives the students and families the chance to connect with local sponsors and maximize their fundraising efforts as 100% of donations go directly to the school. The students love it because they are engaged and active participants by walking, and they get to celebrate local sponsors. While the classrooms have competitions for their hard work, the whole school gets to celebrate together as they meet their unified goals. It promotes teamwork, connection and unity within the school and our community!

The face to face and extended traditional Bauerwood students came together for the walking days and worked hard to meet their goals and earn prizes along the way. Hat day… pajama day… movie party… a school wide dance party… all the way up to their top prize when Principal Julie Roby would brought her farm to school! The Roby family enjoys and loves animals and has been involved with animal exhibitions at the Hudsonville Community Fair for the last 5 years. She even greeted the students at the morning gate with a chicken in her arms! Mrs. Roby also brought a horse, goat, guinea pig and some kittens. The Bauerwood students worked hard to reach their $16,000 goal and had a great time visiting with the traveling Roby Farm!

ONE TEAM. ONE SCHOOL. ONE FAMILY.
Thanks to everyone who made Minds in Movement 2020 a great success!

Outdoor Discovery Center

Schooling during a pandemic forces field trips to look a little different. Bauerwood students were able to enjoy a “reverse field trip” with the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland. Learning about wild animals in our own frontyard was pretty fun.


Teacher of the Month

Bauerwood Kindergarten teacher, Samantha Duval received a well deserved recognition when she was nominated for a reward from Biggby West Michigan and EightWest. It is great to see families in Jenison nominate Sami (and other JPS teachers) for ‘Teacher of the Month’. Sami loves building a strong community in her classroom and her priority is that every child has a safe, fun, and positive environment to grow in! She received $500 to use how she thinks would most benefit her students. Thank you Sami for your relentless commitment to your students!


New Game

Bauerwood students were so excited to have a new activity on their playground this fall. The Bauerwood Family Network was able to provide the funds for a new ‘9-square in the air’ game while a special thanks goes out to the Sherman and Gillespie families and All Area Plumbing for the installation. The teachers seemed almost as excited to teach the kids this classic game!

Bursley Elementary Welcomes New Teachers

I am excited to introduce another group of dynamic teachers who are new to Jenison Public Schools this year. It’s great to welcome folks from within our community and outside the area. A big thank you to principal Holly McGoran and the entire Bursley Elementary School team for a successful beginning to this school year and your daily commitment to show up and finish strong! Our children are blessed to spend their days with you.


Samantha Anderson

We welcome Samantha Anderson to her first year at JPS as a 6th grade Teacher at Bursley Elementary. She is so proud of her students and what they have been able to accomplish together in the short (and somewhat unconventional) year we’ve had so far. The hardworking reputation of our Jenison teachers grabbed her and she’s excited to add her name to the list of those that go above and beyond for her young Wildcats.

Outside the classroom, she spends time as a student herself at Grand Valley State University working towards a Masters of Education in Instruction and Curriculum. Samantha also works with children through ABA therapy. You can also find her enjoying the great outdoors year round in water, snow or by the campfire.


Madison Baker

Madison Baker is an Extended Traditional Kindergarten teacher at Bursley Elementary. Her students are learning from home with her as their dedicated online teacher. Growing up in the area, she knew that the values and mission of Jenison Public Schools aligned with her own so she is very excited to start her full time teaching career with us. She has been impressed with the resounding theme of cohesiveness among the Bursley staff members – knowing that she has support around every corner.

As Madison is also personally passionate about mental health, she could see herself working in that field if she wasn’t a teacher.


Sarah Faasse

Sarah Faasse is as a Kindergarten Extended Traditional teacher at Bursely Elementary. Her family chose to move to Jenison for her own children’s education. She appreciates the size of the district and the programs we are able to offer. Between four children, her family was involved in the special education and spanish immersion programs.

She previously spent 10 years teaching. Volunteering in the classroom for her own children for the last 7 years eventually brought her back to the classroom full time. After classes to update her teaching license, she joined the collaborative teaching ranks of JPS. She can’t imagine doing anything else, teaching is one of her greatest joys and no matter what capacity she finds herself, she will always be teaching something!


Kady Hernke

Kady Hernke comes to JPS from a local community where she spent 7 years teaching. She is excited to teach 2nd grade at Bursely Elementary this year.

Kady sensed that Jenison is a community full of people who want what is best for the students they serve. And she is excited to join our district as we strive to provide students with an excellent education while also developing their character.

An outdoorsy booklover, Kady enjoys arts and crafts and spending time with family and friends, and especially her young son.


Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson feels lucky that she had the opportunity to fill substitute teaching positions in the Jenison District last year. This meant she was able to experience the comfortable, team focused atmosphere within the teaching community. It was also one of the reasons she chose to officially start her career with us. In joining Bursley Elementary as a 5th grade teacher, she looks forward to continuing the friendships and great working relationships she has enjoyed with so many colleagues. 

When she’s not teaching, she might be taking in a sporting event in-person or from the couch with her snuggly cat. She also enjoys time with friends and occasional trips to the east side of the state to visit family. Given the role athletics have played in her life, she might have chosen a career in sports management field if she wasn’t a teacher.


Becca Kelly

Becca Kelly chose Jenison because of our commitment and clear emphasis to ensure each student is able to achieve success, and that lasting relationships are encouraged with students and their families. 

A lifelong Michigan resident and Michigan State University alum for Bachelors and Master’s education degrees, Becca is excited to join Jenison Public Schools this year as a 5th grade teacher at Bursley Elementary School. She previously taught 3rd grade for 6 years.  In her spare time she enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and being outdoors. If she wasn’t a teacher, she thinks it would be fun to work as a museum curator! 


Tara Kortman

Tara Kortman joins Bursley Elementary this year as a 4th grade teacher. She chose Jenison because she shares the priorities of relationships in learning, a strong focus on literacy and support for staff and students. She grew up in Hudsonville and is now happy to move back to the area with her husband and 2 young sons, after teaching 10 years in Saugatuck.

When she’s not teaching at school she loves taking walks and spending time with her sons and the family golden retriever. If she wasn’t a teacher, she would enjoy being a stay-at-home mom.


Jennifer Merritt

Jennifer Merritt attended Rosewood Elementary and is a proud graduate of JHS. She and her husband (Calvin Merritt, new Sandy Hill 5th grade teacher) live in Jenison with their 4 children who also attend JPS. She previously taught Kindergarten in Grandville.

As a student and a parent of JPS students, she already knows and loves the district. In these early days of her teaching experience at Bursley, she says it is evident that the Jenison district watches out for, and takes care of one another. She appreciates the environment created between staff and students, remarking that is such a positive, respectful family atmosphere. 

When she’s not teaching 6th graders, or attending/coaching her kids’ events you might find her shopping, baking or just enjoying some downtime with her family.


Jalynn Mitchell

Jalynn Mitchell is starting her first year with Jenison Public Schools teaching 2nd grade at Bursley Elementary.

The staff support and the students’ big hearts have made a great first impression. Jalynn appreciates the family culture of Jenison and highly values intentional, positive relationship building.

She loves to go to the beach, watch Hope College basketball, and practice yoga. If she wasn’t a teacher she would probably be an event planner.

Sandy Hill New Staff Spotlight

Sandy Hill Elementary has welcomed two new teachers and embraced them with open arms. We’re excited to put their passion and experience to work for our students.

Hannah Plawski

A first year teacher, Hannah is very excited to be off to a great start in her teaching career with 3rd graders at Sandy Hill Elementary. The reputation of Jenison Public Schools and the community drew her in and we’re so glad to have her. She has already enjoyed her students and the cohesive community with her new colleagues.

Hannah enjoys spending time outdoors, running/being active, and spending time with family/friends. If she wasn’t a teacher, she would probably be teaching fitness classes or traveling the world. 


Calvin Merritt

Calvin is no stranger to Jenison or the wonderful world of 5th graders. He spent 20 years teaching in Grandville, but has always been a Wildcat at heart. He is a resident, alumni and parent of children in the Jenison district.

As he leads a 5th grade class at Sandy Hill Elementary, he has been overwhelmed with how welcoming everyone was and he really appreciates the respectful, positive, family atmosphere. He feels the commitment of colleagues watching out for each other and taking care of one another. 

A few hobbies Calvin enjoys are cooking, yard work, spending time with family, and coaching baseball/softball.  If he wasn’t a teacher, he might take that yard work hobby a little more serious and own a lawn care business with his son.

Pinewood Pride Updates

This school year has presented many challenges to traditional teaching methods but the Pinewood team has forged ahead with giving their students every opportunity possible.

Our teachers are the best and are really showing their relentless spirit this year! Among many other unique ideas: outdoor learning and reading sessions have been a welcome break by students in all grades. Michelle U’Ren’s 5th grade students were able to visit the Gerald R Ford Museum virtually and they really enjoyed the very timely lesson of learning about the importance of Character in Campaigns.

A few weeks into the school year, Pinewood Elementary students received a great donation of new playground toys donated from local church, Chapel Pointe. We are grateful for all of our community partners.


Introducing Judy Ko

Formerly a youth pastor, Judy Ko became a JPS substitute teacher in 2018, returned to school for her teacher certificate and completed her student teaching this past spring. This year, she is taking the position of 5th grade long term substitute (for Kristen Carpenter) at Pinewood Elementary. Growing up in Jenison, and raising her kids here, she describes this as her dream job.

She has fallen fast for her colleagues and students, appreciating their friendly help and welcoming attitudes. When she’s not living her dream with her students at Pinewood, she enjoys being outside and spending time with friends and family, taking walks and bike rides. If she wasn’t a teacher, she could see herself being a stunt driver!

Rosewood New Staff Spotlight

Rosewood Elementary is proud to welcome some amazing teachers this year. It’s always exciting to attract new talent to our district as well as see Jenison teachers take on a new challenge and shift to a different post. Check out the new additions to the Rosewood teaching team.

We are thankful for each of them and everything they bring to Jenison Public Schools!

Stacey Miller

Stacey starts her 5th year teaching as a Special Education Interventionist at Rosewood. In the first few weeks of school, she has been impressed by the kindness and respectful attitudes of her students. She comes from the Grand Rapids area and chose Jenison based on the reputation of the district. Stacey enjoys traveling to see friends and explore their new diverse cities. She also loves reading, drinking coffee and loving on her young niece.


Kelsey Wolffis

Kelsey officially joined the Jenison District this fall after spending time at Bauerwood for her student teaching and a long term substitute position at Sandy Hill. After these experiences, she couldn’t imagine officially beginning her career anywhere else and we’re excited to have her in the role of Special Education Interventionist at Rosewood. She has really enjoyed the inclusive team atmosphere at each school and is looking forward to getting to know her students better. A few of Kelsey’s hobbies include basketball, volleyball, and painting. If she was not a teacher and the ocean was not so far away, she might have been a marine biologist studying ocean animals.


Amanda Maxted

Amanda kicks off her 17th year of teaching in an Extended Traditional post for Third Graders. Extended Traditional students are learning from home with a dedicated online teacher. Amanda and her students are embarking on a new type of learning this year and we’re grateful for her efforts. Amanda loves spending time outdoors, hiking, kayaking, rock hunting, and reading. She loves horses and if she weren’t a teacher, she might have been a large animal vet.


Cindy Schenkel

The Rosewood Kindergarten teacher position gave Cindy a reason to return back to her hometown. She taught for 18 years in Indiana and is happy to be back. She wanted to be a teacher ever since she was in Kindergarten herself. When Cindy is not at school she enjoys spending time with family, bike riding and spending time at Lake Michigan.


Randi Alferink

Randi is no stranger to JPS as she has previously filled teaching positions at Bursley and Rosewood; in Spanish Immersion and General Education. After a few years home with her son, she is now choosing Jenison again and is excited to become reacquainted with the “Let’s work together” attitude that exudes Rosewood Teachers. Randi is now a Spanish Specials teacher at Rosewood.

In her spare time, she is learning a third language with her son through LAMP Words For Life (a program used on a communication device for those who are unable to speak or those who have difficulty speaking).


Melanie Lason

Melanie is not exactly new to Rosewood but after 6 years of short substitute teaching posts, we’re happy to add her as a long term 2nd grade teacher. She has chosen Jenison because she feels decisions are made with a perspective of what is best for the kids and she really appreciates the sense of unity among her colleagues. She truly has a passion for kids that even if she wasn’t a teacher, she is confident she would still work with kids in some capacity. Her hobbies include reading, sewing, and camping.


Kari Reynolds

Kari taught for 18 years before joining Jenison Public Schools at Bursley in 2019. This year, she comes to Rosewood as a sixth grade Extended Traditional Teacher. As someone who may have been a starving writer instead of a teacher, she is pleased with the district’s commitment to quality literacy instruction through reading and writing workshops and has been very excited to join the welcoming staff of Rosewood. Kari enjoys cooking, traveling with her husband and children, writing, and reading great books. 


1st Grade American Citizens

January party decorations aren’t typically red, white and blue but this was no regular class party. Selene and Elisea Vella, born in Sicily, Italy had become American citizens and first grade Bursley Elementary teacher, Amy Hage didn’t let the opportunity pass for this unique celebration.

The girls moved to the United States as infants with their parents. They joined other family in the midwest, have settled here nicely and since, become big sisters as well. 

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As the girls are underage, they had already assumed American citizenship. However, after 6 long years of waiting, the girls were very excited and a little nervous to travel to their appointment in Detroit to receive their card of proof. The day after their appointment, Selene and Elisea celebrated with their classmates with plenty of red, white and blue goodies. Students had fun learning a little about their country and acknowledging this exciting milestone. 

Selene and Elisea’s parents feel they have found a gem of a community in the Grandville/Jenison area to raise their family and they love Bursley Elementary School. I am thankful that Amy Hage and the Bursley team has been a shining example of the helpful, kind and committed professionals we have at Jenison Public Schools. 

Although Selene and Elisea do not remember their home country, they are very excited to go visit family members and explore their city this coming summer. I’m sure they will have amazing stories to report when they get back to school in the fall. I look forward to having them be a part of our community for the coming years!

 Congratulations Vella Family!

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Imagine. Explore. Create. Repeat.

No matter the age, students have a courageous and contagious level of creativity and they love to put that passion into practice with hands-on experimentation. While this is encouraged in the traditional classroom where possible, specialized environments give them a chance to take it to the next level.

These environments are called Makerspace. These spaces allow students to take what they have learned in the classroom and extend their learning in a very unique, explorative way. The Makerspace environment is tapping into their imagination in a different way, according to their own interests and creativity.

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Upon attending a conference in Grand Rapids in 2018, inspiration sparked a team of Pinewood Elementary School teachers. The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning conference (MACUL) exposed them to other districts who had these types of spaces. They too wanted to encourage this type of learning and make it available to their students so they decided to write a grant that was offered through MACUL.

The grant from MACUL allowed Pinewood Elementary School to implement a Makerspace as part of their extended library time for all grades. It is housed in the library which makes perfect sense as this sort of learning is a natural extension of books! Since the beginning of time, we’ve experienced librarians creating interactive content to engage children and augment their learning.

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While in the Makerspace, students are able to explore various learning tools and resources structured to inspire creativity and hands-on learning. The ultimate goal is to have a variety of consumable items that students can use to tinker and create their own masterpieces. Different activities can be added to the rotation to spur fresh exploration. Some incorporate technology while others are purely ‘old-fashioned’ analog exercises.

Pinewood teacher Andrea Pattison oversees the Makerspace and loves watching the students be creative, build, and collaborate with classmates with the age appropriate activities and tools that are in the space. The students’ only negative review is that they never have enough time! The kids do a fabulous job respecting the space and the special tools. She also has a team of Makerspace Champions comprised of 5th and 6th grade students who help organize and run the space.

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Pinewood Makerspace: (foreground) 3-D Printer and student using the Osmo tool with an iPad while classmates build and create in the background.

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Students are able to learn how to maximize the Makerspace through the Pinewood Makerspace Website, created by district ACT teacher, Julie Clark. How-to videos and website resources help them make the most of their time in the space and give them options to use outside of school as well. Julie has also gone on to complete an additional grant request for new tools for the Makerspace through the Jenison Public Education Fund.

JPEF has been funding best teaching methods and innovative ideas from JPS educators for over 20 years. Since 1995, JPEF has funded more than 162 programs valued at over $200,000, for the students of Jenison. It is so great to have them partnering with our RELENTLESS, world-class educators to bring these ideas to life.

It is exciting to see the students engage their thoughts and ideas with courage, while facing risk of a mistake. I see huge benefits as these experiences are preparing their brains to see opportunity in a challenge, and is giving the world builders and tinkerers who are not afraid to try and ask, what if?

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Zome Tool was added to the Makerpace through a generous grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation. Zome Tool is a building set with connectors and straight struts. This allows the students to create a multitude of shapes.

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Osmo is a tool that uses augmented reality in conjunction with an iPad. Students can explore with tangrams, numbers, words or interactive drawings. 

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Global School Play Day

Five years ago, the first annual Global School Play Day was celebrated as the kick off of a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about the necessity of unstructured play. This week, Pinewood students were counted in the 563,283 students from 75 nations who participated in a Play Day at school.

4486d8_3e2294f6fb754a5b8c894c0ac0aef6d2~mv2_d_2441_1959_s_2If you walked into some of these classrooms yesterday, you might have thought “all play and no work” was happening. However, this unstructured, self guided play is allowing our children to develop socially, emotionally and hone problem solving skills. Play is an important part of learning and these are necessary skills that will be used for the rest of their lives.

Global School Play Day gives the students an exciting opportunity to let play take over the classroom for a day. Teachers encourage students to bring toys from home to share with their friends in class. They leave the devices and battery operated fun at home (which is easier for some). It also encourages some of the older kids to reacquaint themselves with toys and hobbies they haven’t enjoyed in a while.

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Teachers and staff arrange the day and invite the toys, but nothing is organized beyond that. Children receive no adult instruction on how to play the games or who to play with.

Shanna Richey, Pinewood Kindergarten teacher enjoyed supervising her students and observing a special kind of leadership emerge from some of them. “Their faces just lit up as they were able to lead in sharing their toy. Some students had to explain how to play a game from home. It was so much fun watching each child find ways to share and play with others. I have had some very shy kids blossom on this day because they are able to lead in a new way of sharing their toy.” 

While some students found a new game or toy they really enjoyed, and some even found a new depth of friendship through this experience – everyone agrees, they can’t wait for next year’s play day! Play is a way of communicating and connecting so let me encourage our students and families to keep this sort of play alive!!

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Cards were fun for the older kids, they had fun teaching each other different games.

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Cross age learning buddies! Pinewood 4th grader (Brower) and Kindergardeners (Machiela) took this opportunity to play with and learn from each other!

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Classic games are always a hit!

 

Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D. is a research professor at Boston College. His current work focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today’s kids do not play enough and this has impacted them negatively. In the past 60 years, quality unstructured play has declined, while society sees a gradual increase in anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.

Santa’s Elves on Bus 12-17

While her job title is ‘bus driver’, Kristin Bredeweg takes her role as a teacher and ‘family leader’ just as serious as her safe driving record.

Kristin has been driving her route for 8 years and works hard to create a family atmosphere on her bus. She takes the time to get to know her students and seeks to take advantage of teachable moments. She also looks forward to bringing them together with a special project during the holidays. 

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This year, she organized a campaign to collect toys that would be delivered to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital downtown Grand Rapids. Encouraging our students to think outside themselves; they were impacted by the thought that some children would be spending their holidays not at home around the tree, but in the hospital.

Friday, December 20, students were dismissed for the holiday break at half day and they headed to the bus garage to complete their secret santa mission. Students retrieved the collected toys that had been stored there and filled up bus 12-17 with everything from Lego sets, to books, crayons and stuffed animals. They collected hundreds of items and it was especially exciting that the Bauerwood students were able to take a trip on their bus and participate in the delivery.

Countless JPS teachers and staff members bring students together for special holiday projects like this. I’m so proud and am always amazed how our community takes advantage of the opportunity to spread joy and happiness.

Check out the local news story on WZZM.

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