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.

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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.

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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!

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The Grand Rapids Griffins are Serenaded by the Bobcat Choir!

miii2587The Bobcat Choir from Bauerwood cannot simply be contained by the borders of Jenison! Last week they traveled to VanAndel Arena to serenade the Grand Rapids Griffins, their opponents, the Iowa Wild and the hometown crowd with the National Anthem. They were supported by 300 Bauerwood family members who came to cheer on the choir and the Griffs!

miii2555Bauerwood music director, Diane Schrems, says that fifteen years ago the Bobcat Choir started signing the National Anthem at the Whitecaps games and then reached out to the Griffins as well. “Most recently Grand Valley contacted me to see if I would bring the Bobcat Choir to a Grand Valley Women’s basketball game.  It’s wonderful to get out into the community and perform for everyone.”

miii2559Rehearsals for the big performance have been taking place weekly after school on Thursday’s and the choir has watched post-game tape and agree they did a great job. Of course, they also got to stay for the game and had a wonderful time cheering with their family and friends.

“The kids gain a sense of school pride when we go out into the community and represent Bauerwood and Jenison Public Schools.  It’s important to share your talents with others in a meaningful way like singing our country’s national anthem.  Being a member of  Bobcat Choir builds strong character and commitment in our kids.  When we sing together we build a bond through the music that sounds and feels great.”

Even though the Griffs couldn’t pull of a win that night (they lost 1-2), the Bobcat Choir certainly won for their talent, courage and showmanship! Jenison is proud of you! Go Wildcats!

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Georgetown Township Gets Schooled by Pinewood 6th Graders!

img_3621Back in September, we told you about an amazing project being spearheaded by Lori Barr and her 6th grade Pinewood students to restore swimming to Maplewood Lake.  Well, we are happy to say that this year’s class has continued the tradition of trying to solve the real-world problems in their own neighborhood!

img_3598-1Last month, all of Pinewood’s 6th graders presented their research and solutions to the Georgetown Township board and not only were their township reps blown away by what they heard, they have asked for copies of their presentations for further review. Dan Carlton, Township Superintendent, told the students they have “raised the bar so high I can’t even reach my arm high enough to show you how high it is!” The township is setting goals this month and they wanted to read over the resources and recommendations in order to pursue them.

The township had been previously unaware of the mosquito issue at Woodcrest Park [where Maplewood Lake is located] but students’ surveys found that spectators couldn’t even tolerate a soccer game due to the quantity of mosquitoes.  Students presented ideas for fountains, aerators and bat boxes. Fountains would keep most of the mosquitoes off the water, aerators would reduce mosquito populations because they move and clean the water and of course, our native bat friends could sleep all day in their cozy bat boxes and feast on mosquitoes all night.

captureStudents also presented ideas for a “natural playground” with the help of Natural Playgrounds in Canada. Students said in their presentation, “We want a natural playground because, you would feel like you are in the woods. The experience just feels like you are literally experiencing nature. The wood feels nice and smooth on your hands. Unlike metal and plastic.” They also presented ideas for native flowers for aesthetics and native plants for preventing runoff. 

capture2Because of a snow day in December, students had to problem solve another real-world problem: being behind on a project. Mrs Barr asked them to think about what their parents might do if they are behind at work. One student reported that sometimes, her mom has to work through her lunch which seemed to be the best solution to this hardworking crew. They worked through their lunches, they gave up extra class time where they would typically have freedom to chose their own activity – they chose to work hard to make their presentations the best they could be because they knew the township really wanted to hear what they had to say.

img_3631Seeing these amazing accomplishments has been a joy for their teachers. Mrs Barr has been teaching for 33 years and says that the past five years have been the best. “Mrs Brown encourages us to try new things and I’ve never seen anything like it. It takes courage as teachers to try new things, but you can be creative, let the kids have the power chord and let it be a student led classroom.”

Check out the clip below of a handful of students on the Maranda show that aired this week! On the way back to school one student shared with Mrs Barr, “I really feel like we’re a family. This is a year of family.”

6th Graders at Pinewood: You ARE a family and you make us all so proud! We are cheering you on and cannot wait to swim at Maplewood Lake and play at Woodcrest Park because you made it safe and fun once again!

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Spanish Immersion Opens Doors to New Cultures and Possibilities!

The Spanish Immersion teachers at Bursley Elementary are going above and beyond to help their students incorporate their growing knowledge of the Spanish language into many aspects of their lives. Check out these four classes and their amazing lessons!

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Cover Artist Anijah Huffman

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One of the authors, Owen Cole

1st Grade, Shelly Giron

This fall, Ms. Giron’s class decided to publish their own book about their favorite animals and they went one step farther by not writing or printing it bilingually but only in Spanish! The class brainstormed lots of different animals, the reasons they like them and then wrote rough drafts and polished off original illustrations. With the help of Mr. Tamayo, the class parapro, their final drafts were completed! 29 copies of the book were ordered and everyone had a great time writing their first book together.

20161123_1120593rd Grade, Kristin DeYoung

Students across third grade created welcome cards and posters to welcome in refugees from other countries [coordinated through Bethany Christian Services] – our Spanish Immersion students created a Spanish version which will be used for Spanish speaking refugees who come in to make them feel welcome in a new country. Ms. DeYoung explained to her students that when she moved to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, natives of those countries extended this welcome to her and it helped her feel less nervous in a new place. 20161123_111935

We also created Spanish friendship cards/holiday cards to share with an orphanage in Mexico [where Ms DeYoung used to live and volunteer] to bring holiday cheer and kindness to the children living in the orphanage.  “Our Spanish Immersion students were eager to use their bilingual skills to spread love and kindness to other Spanish speakers both locally and abroad.  I’m so proud of them for using their skills to make the world a better place.”

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In Ms Darica’s class students work hard to incorporate their Spanish skills into all aspects of their curriculum.  They each have Spanish speaking pen pals that require them to write letters [a lost art?!] as well as read and translate the letters they receive. They are also learning and applying economic skills in Spanish as well!

5th Grade, Rebecca Chicklon

Students responded to the following quote: “¿Cuales puertas te abre el programa de inmersión?” / “What doors does the Spanish Immersion program open for you?” Students searched for their favorite doors from Spain and created GoogleDocs showcasing these doors and a paragraph answering the prompt. Check out a few of them below! [What a great way to practice your Spanish!]

capturePuertas de inmersión by Dane DeVries

Cuando hace inmersión hay muchas oportunidades para la vida real, Como: empleo,ayudando al mundo.

Si usa bien es un super poder y solo toma la tiempo de escuela. Yo hice porque quería y porque,y si no yo voy a ser en sandy hill. A mi me encanta a la inmersión porque es un reto para mi cerebro para saber más que un idioma.

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En la programa de inmersión   abra muchicimas puertas.  una puerta que abre es que tenemos un buen chanse de ir a un universidad más bueno .      

Podemos viajar a lugares hisbanoblantes y ayudar y mejorar el mundo. Tambien tenemos mas opciones de donde podemos trabaja y que trabajos queremos . Y si más tade queremos aprender otra lenguage sea mucho más facil . más tarde en la vida esta programa. Es cuando tenemos trabajo y tenemos familia vamos a estar muy felizes porque hicimos una  y  mejor vida que muchas personas no tienen. Entonces niños y niñas y digan a sus amigos, mamás y papás digan a sus amigo y abuelos y abuelas sigue diciendo a todos  sobre la programa de inmersión de español.

Thank you to our amazing Spanish Immersion teachers in Jenison for helping our students be successful in so many interesting ways! We’re proud of our students who challenge themselves every day by learning in a second language!

Pinewood Moms Serve Up Healthy Snacks!

img_8641Pinewood moms, Tanya Hawley and Emily Larsen, have set out to expand the snack horizons of our young students! After working with their child’s classroom teacher last year they sought and received a grant, along with enthusiastic permission from Pinewood principal, Rachael Postle-Brown, and are now serving healthy snacks once a month to the entire school!

Each month there is a featured vegetable that may not be very familiar to students but Tanya and Emily see serving these snacks as a way to help kids see that vegetables can taste good and be fun to try! In October they introduced pink and purple radishes and November’s snack was spaghetti squash served with marinara sauce.

img_8634Taking on a project of these size has not been easy but both Tanya and Emily bring valuable experience and passion to the program. Emily is a registered dietitian and Tanya say, “Emily has been able to add a ton of nutritional facts and information to our program. My focus is on connecting MI farms to families, and connecting kids to real food and farms, and where the food comes from. Emily’s focus on nutritional impact.  Together we make a good team, and we are passionate about helping our community make healthier snack and food decisions in their everyday lives.”

Tanya says that she notices that when some students are willing to try something new, their friends will try it too. Their goal is for kids to be exposed to new foods, broadening their horizons and helping them learn about healthy options. This is also an opportunity for kids to learn about local farms and where our food comes from. Parents are encouraged to participate at home and a handout is provided each month for the “healthy snack” lesson to continue. Kids are also asked to participate in a brief quiz that allows Tanya and Emily to track students interest in the food prior to trying it as well as afterwards. Tanya says that she is pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who are willing to try a new food (parent: take note!).

Teachers have been welcoming of the addition to their school day once a month and these moms hope that parents are taking advantage of the interest as well. Kids who insisted they didn’t want to try “something green” ended up liking kale chips and even last month’s radishes!

Thank you to these moms and the local farms helping supply the new foods! We hope the Pinewood students will continue to try new things and teach us all about what they’re learning!

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Bus Driver is Humble Hero: A Story to be Thankful For

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Joey, Miss Kristin + Ethan

Halloween is never a typical day on a bus to begin with but for one bus driver and her students, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

It was early on in Kristin Bredeweg’s usual Friday afternoon bus drop off routine when she was approached by fifth grader, Joey Bonacci, who calmly reported that his friend, Ethan Dahl, was choking and he couldn’t breathe.

Leaving her red lights on, Kristin ran to the back and saw that Ethan was indeed, unable to breathe. She grabbed him into the aisle, wrapped her arms around him and performed the Heimlich maneuver.  Nothing happened. Ethan still wasn’t breathing. Kristin lost her mom earlier this year and in a brief moment of desperation she asked her mom for help and gave Ethan one more push. Air rushed into his lungs and he fell back in her arms. He was going to be ok.

miii9093Ethan says that he had been enjoying a hard candy before getting on the bus and he thinks a shard of it was what got caught in his throat. Joey knew he was choking, rather than goofing around, because Ethan had been laughing and all of a sudden, he wasn’t making any noise. Ethan and Joey have been friends since third grade and, along with their friend, Isaac England, they are always together on the bus and acknowledge they are good friends.

Kristin radioed into the Transportation office letting them know that Ethan was ok but there had been a medical emergency and asked them to please contact his mom. She told Ethan she wouldn’t leave until he waved at her from the front window before she shakily pulled away.

Kristin had never performed the Heimlich Maneuver and wasn’t sure she was even doing it correctly but she did what she says, any of the JPS bus driver would’ve done. “You love them like they’re your own kids. They’re not just your bus kids. When they’re in my care, they’re my kids. I just did what his mom would’ve done.” 

“I’m driving that bus, not because it’s a job, but because I love my job. I stay on my route because I know my families, because it’s relationships built in the community. There’s communication and relationships built between [yourself] and the families you drive for that make it worth sitting in the seat. They know I love their kids like my own.”

Kristin and Joey, there aren’t enough “thank you’s” and hugs to express how grateful we are for you and your quick and selfless reactions. Ethan, we are so very thankful that you are ok and we trust that you’ll avoid hard candy from now on!

Bauerwood Goes Boo!

miii0192This Halloween, once again, our Jenison schools were filled to the brim with examples of creativity, personality and fun! The teachers and students at Bauerwood got to strut their stuff for parents and family members on their annual parade and celebrate with classroom parties.

Kylo Ren was a popular guest as were the princesses of Frozen. Mario and Luigi showed up and so did a few Transformers and other super heroes. Of course, a few scary characters were there too but thankfully, we had enough police officers, fire fighters and Ghostbusters to keep the peace!

Enjoy the many costumes and personalities of our Bauerwood kids and teachers! Thank you to everyone who contributed treats, party assistance and, of course, our audience members!

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