Mele Kalikimaka is the Thing to Say!

When Rosewood music teacher, Karen Ambs, told fellow teachers she was thinking of starting an elementary Ukulele Club, she was met with a fair amount of skepticism.  But she knew something they didn’t: the ukulele is hot right now and she was right. She was at capacity with 33 students that first week in March. And now, eight weeks later, while they have lost a handful of students to Little League, the Ukulele Club is going strong with 26 students!

Last fall Karen attended a music education conference at Hope College and learned about the benefits of using the ukulele to teach instrumentation to young students. She learned that it is an easy instrument to teach and learn and students see a relative amount of success early on. But rather than introduce the instrument for classes right away, Mrs Ambs wanted to familiarize herself more thoroughly with the instrument and test it out in a club setting first. She saw that ukulele’s were catching on with students so she started asking students what they thought of meeting as a club. She only received positive replies, so they kicked things off in March!

Students were able to learn quickly. “If you know four chords, you can play 100 songs” and Mrs Ambs adds that one of the great things about the club is that everyone is able to play at their own level when practicing songs together. Sixth grade ukulele club member, Molly Jones says that the club is “so much fun” and because “we’re all learning together, if you make a mistake, it’s no big deal.” Fifth grade ukulelist, Conner Van Dam, joined because he wanted to add another instrument to his repertoire which currently includes the viola and next year, the baritone. He, along with Gavin Louckes [also 5th grade] say that, even though they didn’t know how to play the ukulele, they weren’t worried about trying something new. “If you never try it, you never know!” they said.

The club is open to 3rd – 6th graders at Rosewood and Mrs Ambs says that when students were learning chords in the beginning, it worked out well to have the younger students sit near the older students to watch and learn. This mentorship happened organically and Mrs Ambs was very pleased to have this be a byproduct of the club experience.

While some students were able to purchase ukulele’s in order to be part of the club, that isn’t an option for everyone. In order to give everyone an opportunity to learn the instrument, Ms Ambs is seeking grant funds to help out. A few years ago we told you about the great work of the Jenison Public Education Foundation and Mrs Ambs is hoping for a grant from them in the form of a complete classroom set. The potential for this grant, along with other possible resources will ensure that Rosewood student has the opportunity to learn ukulele in music class!

If these curious and talented students have inspired you to learn to entertain family and friends with this Hawaiian classic, Mrs Ambs has some words of encouragement for you! “It’s a very, simple, easy way to pick up an instrument and be successful with it. Yet, if you want to make it more challenging, you can go beyond four chords and learn picking patterns and melodies”. Still feeling unsure? Molly reminds everyone to “do something you enjoy!” and that just might mean picking up a ukulele!

Thank you, Mrs Ambs, for finding fun, creative ways to engage our students in learning about the wonderful world of music! Congratulations to these awesome Rosewood students for trying something new! We hope to see you at the Talent Show!

There’s Nothing Quite Like 6th Grade Camp!

If you grew up as a JPS student, chances are good that you attended 6th grade camp! For at least the past eighteen years, each school in the district has set aside 4 days each year for the 6th grade class to spend at a camp in the area.

The students take part in various activities such as ropes courses, horseback riding, biking, archery, team-building exercises, campfires, and group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball. They also spend time with the students in their cabins to continue to build and develop peer relationships.

6th grade teacher, Heather Chatfield, is the Camp Director for Bauerwood and says the Tuesday to Friday camp experience at Grace Adventures is an important experience for the students to learn new skills, unplug, and enjoy being together. Of course, the students can’t go alone so each school depends on volunteers. Bauerwood typically takes 9 – 10 teachers from the building plus 6 – 12 junior counselors who are willing and enthusiastic high school students eager to make camp amazing for every student, just like it was for them.

In order to make camp a meaningful experience for these rising junior high students they are encouraged to expand their comfort zones and be brave. “We focus on this time being a team building experience. We also look at it as a way to get students to challenge themselves to do something new.” When students are encouraged by their peers and feel safe to try new things, they feel changed and teachers see an improvement in their demeanor and self-image. “We have so many kids that come back from camp feeling more confident and successful.”

Other wonderful benefits of camp is the opportunity for students to put down their devices, engage with their friends, and be challenged in new ways. “6th grade camp is a time for kids to “unplug” from today’s technology that is readily available. They are able to be physically active for four days. They have to communicate and push themselves more than ever before. The teachers love the experience because we get to know our students even better during this week at camp!”

Thank you to all of the teachers and high school students who attend camp and make it amazing for our 6th graders! We know that these experiences are helping to shape them into strong, confident, junior high students!

JPS Teachers Rock!

Across the country, teachers are being celebrated with Teacher Appreciation Week and National Teacher Day! At JPS we know that our greatest assets are our amazing teachers and the passion, creativity, and knowledge they bring to their classrooms each day. Sandy Hill Principal, Jon Mroz, appreciates the time set aside for this important acknowledgement. “Teacher Appreciation week provides the opportunity to say the extra “thank you’s” that are sometimes difficult to get to during the busy times of the school year.  I can think of many examples at Sandy Hill where teachers step right in to help because they see the importance of supporting all students, staff, and families around the building.”

We all know that our teachers work hard to teach the curriculum and do everything they can to help students achieve their academic goals, but teachers at JPS [and around the world!] are doing so much more as well. “The staff at Sandy Hill are extremely hard working and I can think of many examples where they may help a student in the hallway, on the playground, or anywhere in the building, even when that student is not in their “homeroom.” We have a focus that all students at Sandy Hill are our students, and every adult is responsible for helping every student grow. A couple of very specific stories [from a very long list]  when teachers are going above and beyond are: providing their own gloves or coats to a student when their hands were cold, bringing in or buying clothing for a student in need, buying snacks for students in need, reaching out to and partnered with community members to figure out ways to reward/recognize students, and donating or finding ways to get items donated for families’ daily needs.”

Because we all learn better in a positive, supportive, holistic environment, our students excel when our teachers are aware of and devoted to their students overall well-being. Mr Mroz adds, “There are many examples at Sandy Hill when students experienced an immense amount of positive change because of their amazing teacher[s]. Many students have not only shown tremendous growth academically, but socially and emotionally as well. It is always rewarding to see the gains a child can make with their confidence both in and out of the classroom resulting from the connection they have made with their teacher.”

If you are appreciative of the work your child’s teacher is doing, you know a teacher in your neighborhood, or you are living proof of the devotion of a teacher, it is always a great time to say, “THANK YOU”! As a former teacher and current administrator, Mr. Mroz knows the impact of these not-so-simple words. “The “Thank You’s” go along way to teachers as well, so they can have the reminders of the positive impact they are leaving, and it also models the gratitude we try to instill on our students as well.”

[This writer would like to kick things off by saying “thank you” to my high school English teacher, David R. Harchick, who taught me to love literature, not be afraid to critique writing even when it’s a classic, be the best I can be, and to never fix my hair or makeup in public.]

Additionally, Mr. Mroz recommends to parents that they keep the lines of communication with teachers open. “Students and parents can also show their appreciation by having open lines of communication with teachers. This allows teachers to have as much knowledge possible about their students to meet each students’ individual needs.”

To our incredible JPS teachers we want to remind you that the work you do is valuable beyond measure, even if you can’t see it right away. “Many times, the impact you make is not going to be seen until a students’ time in your classroom is done. It is compared to watering a seed a little bit at a time, until one day, the student begins to make personal connections that creates relevancy, and they begin to grow and flourish.”

Thank you, teachers, for all you sacrifice for our students and the ways they flourish because of your dedication. May you always remember,
“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

Groundbreaking Celebration for New School!

Last Monday evening, not even the gray skies couldn’t keep spirits down as the Board of Education and Superintendent, Tom TenBrink, broke ground on the new school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

The Early Childhood Center [ECC] and Spanish Immersion program currently housed at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools, will both be housed in the new building located near the corner of Baldwin and 28th Ave.

The new school – Jenison’s first new school since 1970! – will be a two-story, LEED certified building with 36 classrooms. It will also include modern security features as well as, assisted listening systems in each classroom, two playgrounds and two full-size ball fields.

Becky Steele, Rosewood and Bursley STEM teacher was on hand to capture student Samantha Eriks tell those in attendance what the new school means to hear and future Spanish Immersion students. Becky says, “Samantha has been a Bursley Spanish Immersion student since kindergarten, and is headed off to the Junior High in the fall.  Her fluency [as well as her poise, confidence, positivity, kind and helpful heart…the list goes on and on] certainly speaks volumes about the quality of the language immersion education that students get in JPS.”

This is a very exciting season for JPS and we can’t wait to monitor the progress and celebrate when our students and staff are filling the halls!

Rosewood Principal, Lloyd Gingerich, along with SI teachers!

ECC Principal, Lee Westerveldt, joined by two ECC students

Star Student Spotlight: Cordiela Sorrelle!

Pinewood fourth grader, Cordelia Sorrelle, is a girl of many talents, combined with a sweet, humble, and kind heart. Cordelia was nominated for this mini-series on Star Students by her principal, Rachael Postle-Brown, who says that Cordelia “always does an amazing job and is so humble”.

Aside from her regular schoolwork in fourth grade, Cordelia is involved in the chess club, robotics club, ACT, the after school reading program, and loves STEM.

She joined the chess club at the beginning of the school year without ever having played a game before. She “thought it looked interesting” because, “I like to think of strategies and tactics”. She enjoys playing board games but she especially loves those that involve strategy. Cordelia says she’s a good chess player but she hasn’t beat her dad just yet, but knows she will one day. [Look out, dad!]

Cordelia is also a member of ACT which is a weekly educational program for third through sixth graders who qualify. “In ACT we solve problems. Right now, we’re learning about things to build a mini-golf course. First, we learned about pentominoes. [Readers: if you need a quick math lesson, check out the Wikipedia link telling you what a pentomino is. Go ahead, we’ll never tell.]  Then, we made a tabletop mini-golf course to see where the ball will go”.

Cordelia is in ACT with other qualifying fourth graders from two other JPS elementary schools. She is proud to be in ACT and decided to apply because of what she believed about herself and her abilities.  “ACT is for people who are academically talented so I thought, why don’t I take the test because I think I’m smart.” She says that ACT is a safe place to be and feels like her fellow students support each other. “I like that other people there are smart too so people don’t judge me about it.”

But Cordelia’s love for learning doesn’t stop there! She is also a member of the after school reading club where, Monday – Thursday, she finds a comfy seat in the library and reads a book of her choice for 45 minutes with other book lovers. Her favorite book right now is Land of Stories, a series about twins who go into fairy tales. Cordelia has loved reading, “since I was born” and is not only a fast reader, but always has a book in her hand.

Cordelia also decided to join the robotics club this year and says that she liked building robots. Her 4 person, all girl elementary team [which included her older sister] competed in robotics events made a forklift but after they found that other teams were copying it, chose to destroy it and build a new one. Cordelia was the youngest member of the team and when asked how she feels about people who think robotics, chess, and STEM are better suited to boys she says emphatically “I say, girls can do anything that boys can do.” When asked how it make her feel when people say those things, she gives us all a lesson in self-confidence: “I don’t really care about what they say.”

Adding to her already impressive resume, this spring Cordelia will take her talents to the softball field for the first time. Her friends are doing it so, “I thought it would be cool if I did it too.” She didn’t want to be unprepared so she took a softball clinic “to see what it was like”.  At home, she tries her best to take care of her three dogs but they don’t make it easy for her. “When I get home, it’s like they haven’t seen me in a thousand years and they jump all over me.”

Cordelia, I think it’s safe to say, we’d be excited to see you too! You are the true definition of a star student and we cannot wait to see where your gifts, talents, and kind heart take you!  We’re proud to call you a Wildcat!

6th Graders Keep Kindergartners Safe!

When you’re a Kindergartner, it can be intimidating to navigate the big, busy halls at school! But fear not, young ones! The 6th grade safeties are here!

At each Jenison elementary school, there are a dedicated group of 6th graders who fulfill a variety of protective roles for our Kindergartners. Kevin Gort, 6th grade teacher at Bauerwood and Leader of the Safeties says, “The roles range from helping Kindergartners get to their correct buses to standing out at the crosswalk in freezing cold temperatures waiting for the crossing guard to stop traffic on Bauer Road so the kids can cross safely.”

There is a process to becoming a safety and it begins in 5th grade with a presentation by current safeties sharing what they like and don’t like about the position, qualities you need to succeed at being a safety and why they chose to fulfill this role. If a 5th grader is interested they complete an application and 5th grade teachers are given a chance to weigh in as well, with remarks such as “turns homework in on time”, “has integrity”, “is kind of others”, and “respects authority”.  Even specials teachers are given the opportunity to voice their opinion on applicants because they get to know students in a unique environment, over multiple years. Once the roster is selected, training begins.

Mr Gort looks for three things in a potential safety: integrity, empathy, and willingness to problem solve. These three qualities show that a safety can be trusted to act appropriately, even when an adult may not be present, which is a major piece of responsibility for a safety, especially when it comes to managing disagreements between other students. “There is not a lot of glory or awards associated with being a safety, but many student safeties will tell you that the reward is in those Kindergartners’ hugs and smiles that are given or in the few thank you’s from parents and/or staff members that are said to a safety as they hold the door open. ”

If you think the Kindergartner doesn’t know or appreciate their safety, Mr Gort says, think again. “I am always amazed at the bonds the safeties make with the little ones they take care of.  I do not think these safeties know how important they are and how their Kindergartners look forward to seeing them everyday. One story in regards to how impressionable a safety is to a Kindergartner happened at 6th grade camp.  I was with a Junior Counselor, who is in high school, and a 6th grade student walked right up to him and said “you were my safety when I was in Kindergarten.” Both the high school student and the 6th grade student began talking about what bus they transported to, the other students in the line, etc.  I was amazed that this memory stuck with this student for so many years. ”

Because the qualities of a good safety [problem solving, integrity, and empathy] are valuable, lifelong skills, the role of a safety carries on well past 6th grade. “When students move on with life after being a safety my hope is that they find other ways to serve in this world.  Helping others without having to be recognized or rewarded is a quality that seems to be missing these days.  Having a selfless servant heart is something to strive for everyday and a great place to start is finding a way to help another person.”

“If I could challenge the Jenison community…no matter what building you live by or whether your kids attend school, it would be absolutely awesome if you would thank a safety for faithfully serving their school.  You would make a safety’s day if you went out of your way just to say thank you.

Thank you Mr. Gort! We’ll start the “thank you’s” right here: THANK YOU 6th grade safeties across the district! Our schools and our youngest elementary students are better and safer because of you! [Now, entire JPS community, it’s your turn to tell a safety “thank you”!]

Dads and Daughters Take a Spin Around the Dance Floor!

Last weekend, the gym at Bauerwood was transformed into a tropical luau for the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance! This year, 280 girls and the men in their lives that serve as fathers (grandparents, uncles, cousins, brothers, friends – anyone!) danced, took selfies, drank fruity umbrella-adorned punch, and had an amazing time!

Last year, committee co-leader, Jean Houghton, talked to other moms about the possibility of bringing the dance to Bauerwood after experiencing it at Bursley before their family moved. It took this dedicated group to plan, organize, decorate, and now, in its second year, it’s the second highest fundraiser for the school! This year, the dance generated about $1000 to school expenses.

There was a DJ spinning the tunes and he also led a limbo contest, and, according to Jean, the dance floor was filled the entire night. “The girls are so excited to be there, they have big smiles, and are happy to be there with their dads.” The girls received a Hawaiian lei when they arrive and a carnation when they leave to cap off their “wow” experience.

This year, the committee was able to provide limited sponsorship to families that needed financial assistance but they plan to increase their capability in this area for next year. “No student should be left out because things are tight at home”. [So if you’re wondering about next year, make sure you talk to your child’s teacher when the time comes around!]

Jean feels that this type of event is important for families because it “shines a spotlight on the girls’ relationship with their father figure. They are encouraged to feel beautiful, they feel important on that day, it gives them confidence, and makes a special moment to share with each other.” She added that it’s encouraging to hear from teachers and other parents how excited their daughters are before and after the dance. “They can’t stop talking about it!”

This is clearly a special treat for our daughters and their dads and we are thankful that parents take this time to make special memories with their kids! [Moms! Be watching for Mother – Son Bowling at your school!]

Thank you to the dance committee: Alyssa Fennema, Candace Bennett, Jean Houghton, Liz Opatic, Sara Reilly, and Missy Brandt!

Parents make all the difference and this event is so much more than a fundraiser! Thank you to all the dads and daughters who brightened the gyms around Jenison with your beautiful smiles and amazing dance moves!

#JPSReads Update!

Guest Reader, Janet Schultz, at Sandy Hill!

We first told you about #JPSReads earlier this year and phase one is now complete! To kick things off in mid-January, District Media Specialist, Jan Staley, and Literacy Coach, Janet Schultz, presented the plan at each elementary school with a slideshow, magic tricks, and Q & A. Students were provided with a participation sheet to set a personal goal that correlated with their grade level. Once their goal was met, they received a cling-on paw print to display in a window of their home. Every family member could participate and once a goal was met, you could set a new goal!

This could be your house if everyone is reading!

Teachers and principals across the district encouraged students to meet their goals and share what they were learning as they read and explored new genres and topics. Ms Staley was encouraged by one elementary school, in particular saying, “The principal did a fabulous job keeping the excitement going.  He interviewed students every day who had met their goals, asking favorite books, places they read, etc.  This school also had participation contests within the grades.  This excitement from the principal and teachers spread and the number of student goal forms were the highest in the district.” Numbers are still coming in from the Junior High and High School but so far, there is record of over 1300 participants!

Guest Reader, Deputy Eric Smith at Pinewood!

March is Reading Month across the country and #JPSReads is hitching up to it for phase two! Please check out the March Reading Month Calendar here. Students can be challenged with a new reading task each day and be entered to win the grand prize at the end of the month!

Finally, phase three of #JPSReads will take place at the end of the school year and, while there are still some details to arrange, it will involve a secret “Paw Patrol”! Staff members from the district will be driving around the neighborhoods looking for homes with multiple #JPSReads paw prints displayed and they will receive prizes!

Ms Staley says she loves hearing the stories from students about how their entire family has been involved with #JPSReads, even turning in goal sheets for their grandparents! “The students often have reading incentive programs that they are working on throughout the year, but the exciting thing about #JPSReads is seeing them get excited about their parents reading!! It really has touched many families in our community!  Over and over again, our volunteers, and parents that have come into our buildings have mentioned that their whole family is having fun with this, they love reading and working toward this goal together.”

Guest Reader, Superintendent, Tom TenBrink

“Reading is not just a “school subject”, that it takes a community’s commitment to raise our readers. We want to continue our district’s vision to build rich literacy skills at home as well as at school. Research proves that Readers are Leaders! Reading helps relax us and keep our minds active and growing. Reading also improves our thinking abilities, people skills, and helps us master communication in order to effectively collaborate and lead others. Grab your favorite books and start reading today!”

If you have questions about any of the phases of #JPSReads please ask your child’s teacher! Thank you to all of the families that are participating and we can’t wait to see more paw prints!

Guest Reader, Deputy Steigenga, at Bursley

Students Practice Mindfulness

img_2631Maybe you’ve been hearing the term, “mindfulness” in conversations and been curious about its meaning and implications. You aren’t alone! Mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular practice for people of all ages and the benefits are far-reaching and long-lasting.

Erika Betts, School Social Worker at Rosewood and Sandy Hill attended a conference on mindfulness in the fall of 2015 and “fell completely in love with the concept”. Since that time, Mrs Betts has read multiple books and attended additional conferences on the subject and recognizes the practical benefits. “What I love about it is that it addresses so many problems that we see in the classroom on a daily basis with students; difficulty focusing and paying attention, impulsive decision making, difficulty with emotional regulation including anxiety, anger, and low frustration tolerance”.

img_2627Electronics and technology have become so integral to our daily lives and there are various levels of consequences as a result. “In some cases kids are spending hours on these devises each day, and because of this, they are used to such a high level of stimulation and frequent gratification.  Then, once the devises are turned off, they become easily bored and irritable because “real life” can’t compete with that level of excitement.  Mindfulness helps to teach kids how to slow down and pay attention to small things, teaches them how to regulate their breathing, and also increases their problem solving skills, their ability to think critically, as well as to control their impulses.”

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-11-35-17-amBut what is mindfulness? Mrs. Betts explains it as creating a balance between your brain and body chemistry.   “Research tells us that when people [kids or adults] become emotionally heightened, the thinking portion of their brain actually shuts down, and the emotional part of their brain takes over.  That is when the “caveman instincts” of fight, flight, and/or freeze come into play.  In this state people tend to react quickly, without thinking through possible consequences that could occur.  What the repeated practice of mindfulness does is allows our body to calm more quickly when we are emotionally charged, in order for us to be able to think through best responses to stressful situations. “

Mrs Betts led two seminars for a handful of teachers at Rosewood and Sandy Hill and some of those teachers have begun incorporating mindfulness into their daily routines. One of those teachers is Luke VerBeek and he reports that after being invited to the seminar, and doing some of his own research as well, he decided it would be beneficial to his 6th grade students. “We [students and teachers] have so many expectations and extracurricular activities happening in our lives that keep us rushing from one activity to another.  Mindfulness has given us permission to stop, slow down, and only worry about being present.  It has allowed us to not worry about events in our lives that have happened in the past or that may happen in the future.

img_2632Taking time out of every day to practice intentional breathing, mindful body posture, and a quiet mind gives Mr. VerBeek’s students the chance to slow down in a very busy world. They have also taken the tools of mindfulness in the classroom to other aspects of their lives as well. “My students have used mindfulness beyond the allotted time we have dedicated in our classroom.  Many have mentioned how they have used it in their sporting events while shooting free throws or serving the volleyball.  One student even mentioned how it has helped her with her anxiety.  They use the breathing techniques we have worked on in class to calm them down and focus on the job at hand.  Mindfulness has allowed my students the freedom to slow down, if only for a few minutes every day.”

Mrs Betts says, “Mindfulness can also help us to clear our heads so we can just focus on one thing at a time instead of having our minds full of so many distractions all at once.  This not only helps us when our emotions take over, but it can help our abilities to listen to others [their teachers, their parents, etc], to organize our thoughts, while taking tests, while working with classmates, etc.”

If you’d like to try mindfulness at home you can check out the book, “10 Mindful Minutes” by Goldie Hawn. You can also watch this three minute video to learn more:

Finally, for an example of a practice for kids, we recommend the video below:

Thank you Mrs Betts, Mr VerBeek, and the many other amazing teachers in Jenison teaching their students the importance of mindfulness! We’re grateful for this knowledge and skill that will support us throughout our whole lives!

Sandy Hill Third Grader and His Class Teach the World About Love and Laundry

miii3995At elementary schools all around the country there are kids earning points and rewards for trying to improve their behavior or work on particular skills. The rewards are usually specific to the student’s interests such as additional technology time, reading with a friend, eating lunch with their teacher, etc. but these average rewards were not enough for one Sandy Hill third grader. Kamden VanMaanen wanted more. Kamden has a unique interest in laundry detergent and one of his teachers, Olivia Kool, found a way to capitalize on that passion and make life a little easier at home too.

miii3989

Mrs. Kool, Kamden & his rewards

“Kamden started off by earning ipad time which did not seem to be a big enough incentive for him. As his classroom teacher Mrs. Ryan and I got to know Kamden better, we quickly learned about his love for Gain laundry detergent. Students with autism often have high interest areas and Gain detergent is something that Kamden is passionate about and talks about on a daily basis. He has even gotten many teachers and students to switch to using Gain for their laundry. He can tell you everything you would ever need to know about laundry detergent and the different scents. When I noticed that the ipad time was not really an incentive for him, I started thinking about what could we do differently to help him have good days at school. One day, I asked him if he had a good day would he like to earn some Gain laundry detergent. His face lit up when I asked him this. The first couple of days I went out and img_3509-1bought laundry detergent and he was highly motivated to earn that reward. Mrs. Ryan and I definitely noticed a difference with Kamden when he was earning the laundry detergent.”

Kamden’s mom, Amanda, decided to continue the reward at home and was also buying Gain for Kamden, which was adding up for both mom and teacher! This fall Mrs. Kool got an idea: “I wrote a letter to Meijer and Procter & Gamble. In the letter, I told them that I was a special education teacher who had a 3rd grade student who was obsessed with Gain laundry detergent. I told them how he tells everyone that Gain is the best detergent because it “has a wonderful scent and makes you open the world of fragrance.” Mrs. Kool told the companies in her letter that Kamden earns ipad time to watch Gain commercials on YouTube and asked if they’d be willing to send detergent samples as his rewards.

img_3402-2-2

Kamden dressed as a washing machine for Halloween!

“About a month later I got an email from Michael Kadzban the Buyer for Laundry and Cleaning Supplies for Meijer. He told me that he and Todd Vishnauski from Procter and Gamble secured some Gain supplies for Kamden along with some other things for him. They personally wanted to come meet Kamden and drop off the goodies they got for him. Michael and Todd were amazing! They brought tons of Gain samples for Kamden as well as Gain t-shirts, notepads, water bottles, and an official certificate from the Gain team.”

img_3503Michael and Todd “were amazed at how well the students in Kamden’s class embraced Kamden’s passion for Gain detergent and how happy the students were to see the excitement in Kamden’s face when they came to their class.  Todd from P&G said it best when he told the class that the makers of Gain have a term for people who love their product. These people are called Gainiacs. That is what Kamden is, a true Gainiac.”

img_3507Amanda VanMaanen, Kamden’s mom is grateful for the support of the teachers and staff at Sandy Hill for their love and care for their family. “Kamden was thrilled to have Todd and Michael visit him in the classroom. He couldn’t stop grinning and talking about it constantly for a long time. He told every person he knew about it. I think it was wonderful to get his class involved. They were all so excited for Kamden and it made his love of detergents a little more relatable.  I think Kamden felt so proud and excited to spend a little part of the day sharing his favorite topic with everyone. The staff has been so supportive of his fixation, even sending pics of their detergent purchases.  Mrs. Kool went above and beyond to send out the request and to set this up for him! It certainly helped with our budget for supplying laundry detergent incentives for Kamden too. We are so proud to be a part of a school that truly cares for and supports our son!”

Kamden loves his teachers and friends and he really likes science. He says he loves all the subjects in school except math, which many of us can relate to. He thinks that Mrs. Kool is a good teacher because “she’s really nice and she does nice things for me like asking the guys [from P & G and Meijer] to come to school.  She’s a good listener and she likes laundry detergent too. She has a cool down corner that I really like.”

img_3493Sandy Hill principal, Jon Mroz, knows that Kamden’s story has already impacted the students in Kamden’s class and the entire school. “This story is important to share because Kamden is an amazing young guy, with a one-of-a-kind personality.  With the help and support of the Sandy Hill teachers, we have seen a tremendous amount of growth with Kamden in many areas over the years.  Kamden’s story has allowed other students an opportunity to understand that everyone has differences, and that we can accept those differences with an open mind and open heart.”  

Thank you Mrs Kool, Mrs Ryan, Mr Mroz and the many other teachers, staff members, and students that have gotten to know Kamden and supported him. Your love and encouragement of Kamden has made a huge difference for this amazing student and his family!

miii3982