ABC’s of Life

Rosewood 4th graders Ben, Adelynn, Jaxson and Jocelyn surely have mastered the alphabet over the years. This year, they are being challenged to look at the ABC’s through a different lens.

Drawing inspiration from a piece of art hanging in his office, Rosewood Principal, Luke Ver Beek began a weekly school wide challenge. Beginning with morning announcements, he introduces a theme and encourages students and staff to embrace the alphabet in a new way.

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Jocelyn Brown

Jocelyn Brown was a member of the elementary cast of the recent high school musical, Mary Poppins. When the class was working on the theme “eXpress your gratitude”, she knew she wanted to write a letter of appreciation to her high school theatre mentor. “It makes you feel good because you know they will be happy when they receive your letter. I feel like this makes us more bonded. Of course, my teacher made me do it but when I started writing, I couldn’t stop and I didn’t have enough room!”

Jocelyn also remembered having good conversations with her mom during the “Forgive” theme week and they enjoyed dinner out and rollerblading for an “Unplugged” evening.

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Jaxson McBride and Ben Osterink agree that “Build” was the best week!

Jaxson Mc Bride loves to make stuff and draw. He really liked that he had an ‘assignment’ to play with his legos. “Sometimes I get busy, it was fun to be reminded of how much I love my legos. I also liked the “Try Something New Challenge”. I want to make plans to be outside more.” Ben Osterink likes to build forts and play legos. He even let his sister help him build a big lego house.

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Adelynn Brown

Adelynn Brown took the “Unplugged” challenge seriously and decided to spend time outdoors instead of watching television after school. “Sometimes watching too much TV can give you a headache so I’m glad I’m outside playing basketball more now. I play basketball on recess too so I’m glad I feel like I’m getting better. Sometimes my mom parks in the way of the basketball hoop so I climb our tree instead which is also fun.”

Other staff and student favorite themes over the year include:

V=Vote… Rosewood has two fish who call the library home. The kids really enjoyed voting on the fish names. There was also a good life lesson in the fact, that just because they liked one name, didn’t mean the majority did.

T=Try something new… Mr. Ver Beek did the announcements via video for the week. Teachers noticed students talking to their friends throughout the week about new foods, new activities, new games, even new friendships.

S=Stretch… Teachers and students were challenged to try yoga and mindfulness.

As the year is winding down, the Rosewood Wildcats have completed their alphabet challenge and are revisiting two letters per week. The staff and students have really enjoyed the ABC’s of Life project. I love that some weeks they were trying something new and other weeks they revisited some very good old fashioned basics. Thank you Mr. Ver Beek and Rosewood teachers for offering our students a well rounded study of the alphabet!
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Mr. Ver Beek eXpresses gratitude for teachers and staff with sweets and treats!

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ABC’s of Life by Little Truths Studio

 

Trading Textbooks for Broomball and Bunk Beds

Milestones abound with each school year and grade completed. Arguably, 6th grade seems to be one of the most exciting and transformative. For the last 20 years, leaving the classroom and going camping with classmates has been one of those much anticipated experiences for our Jenison 6th graders.

All students are given the opportunity to attend camp at some point during their 6th grade year. Each student comes with a unique life story; and we find time and again that the shared social and experiential education aspects of camp helps draw the students closer, allowing friendships to develop and compassion and understanding to grow.

1383307166f1e61842c61877dd33d4ec3d7faff9Although, this year’s Bauerwood trip was scheduled for the end of February and they started their camp week at 29 degrees upon arrival; the class experienced an amazing 4 days together with their classmates and teachers.

Bedtime came pretty easy at the end of some very busy days. Outdoor activities included broom ball, snow tubing, archery, team-building exercises and campfires. Indoor fun included ropes courses, group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball and so much more!

In true Wildcat fashion, our amazing Jenison staff goes above and beyond to invest in their students. Enjoying the experience alongside them, encouraging them to have fun and be fully engaged while they unplug from technology and escape the average routine of their every day lives. Some camp activities are just plain fun, while others are challenging and require that the students stretch themselves and give their best effort. All while in a supporting environment – getting to know each other (and themselves) better with each task they accomplish.

Many students are stretched beyond their comfort zone, often making the experience a pivotal moment for students as they grow leaps and bounds in self-confidence. If you know a Jenison 6th grader, share in their excitement and ask about camp!

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The Bauerwood staff had a great time connecting with their students at camp.

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The junior counselors are former Bauerwood students. The current Jenison High School students were very excited to partner with the teachers and Grace Adventure staff to create an awesome camp experience like they had when they were 6th graders.

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Lansing Lessons for 4th Grade

Challenging concepts taught solely within the four walls of a classroom can often leave students uninspired and disengaged. Our community of 4th grade educators understand that, and one of the highlights of their year is taking advantage of real life learning through an exciting field trip to Lansing.

In preparation, the class studied a preview of what they would be experiencing during image1-3the trip. This included: a review of the three branches of government – how they work, how they differ, an overview of Michigan congress members – how bills are developed and passed, some focus on the current governor, and an overview of the time periods of Michigan history. Setting the stage for the visit increased the impact of the trip tenfold as students consistently made (excited) solid connections from the classroom to the tours of both the State Capitol building and the Michigan History Museum.

Many students have never been in such a historic building before and were in awe of the architecture and ornate decorations that all have symbolic meaning. When students discover that the floor in the rotunda is made of glass, they are often a little intimidated, but docents quickly put their mind at ease: the 976 squares of glass are held in place by a cast iron frame, making the floor strong enough to hold over 40 tons of weight! They also find that the best view all the way to the top of the dome can be found by laying flat on your back.

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The students soaked in the breathtaking view 180 feet above them. The stars on the top center are actually the size of a human hand.

Students were really excited to learn that our state politicians actually do work in Lansing and that it wasn’t just a fancy building for show. The group had the chance to go on the senate floor and spend a few minutes asking Senator Roger Victory some questions about his job.

Representative Luke Meerman was in the office that day as well, and he gave students some wonderful advice about never giving up on their dreams.

 

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Bursley 4th graders standing on the floor of the Senate with Senator Roger Victory, member of the Michigan Senate for the 30th Senate District

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Bursley 4th graders with State Representative Luke Meerman, member of the Michigan House of Representatives for the 88th District.

After the Capitol tour, the group went to the Michigan History Museum. Students were intrigued by the history of  “logging” in Michigan and spent time debating logistics of how it was transported before cars and trucks. Other favorite museum exhibits include feeling what a horse and buggy ride was like, feeling animal pelts from the fur trade, walking through a mine, and interacting with an early 1900’s classroom. Students take back valuable information and experiences from the trip and draw on those as they dive deeper into Michigan History and Government in the coming months.

I’m so thankful that experiential education through real world exploration is a reality for our students. These hands-on experiences help our students gain perspective and develop critical thinking skills along with academic learning. These are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime and strengthen their understanding in the classroom. 

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There are nine acres of hand-painted decorative art throughout the building, sharing stories from Michigan’s past. It’s a lot to take in!

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At the Capitol, the students had the opportunity to see where legislature meets for session.

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The students enjoyed a successful Lansing trip!

 

Surfing with Sharks

img_1691In January, the fifth grade ACT students got busy diving into their exciting new learning exploration; and I’m quite pleased to report it goes much deeper than that popular earworm song that has swept the nation!

They were introduced to their ‘Surfing with Sharks’ unit and transformed themselves into Icthyologists (ik-thee-OL-o-jist). ACT Teacher, Dr. Julie Clark, aims to provide a rich environment of full immersion in their topic and these few weeks of being a “person who studies sharks” has been an exciting and engaging experience for all. Not to mention, this is an opportunity that most students wouldn’t have exposure to until high school or college!

One of the first activities included “adopting a shark” from the Ocearch website to track and watch throughout the unit. The class also read the book, Shark Lady, a true story that highlights the life and work of Eugenie Clark, a renowned ichthyologist known for both her research on shark behavior and her dedication to changing the common misconceptions people have about sharks. 

This was a great way to lay the groundwork of learning about these fascinating, and often misunderstood, creatures. After spending some time introducing their “adopted” sharks to the class through a short Google Slides presentation, the students enjoyed an opportunity to watch an Eyewitness movie about sharks in class.img_1689

Taking their research a little bit deeper, the students set off to learn about a specific species of shark and create a Weebly website on which to display what they learn. They also used Khan Academy to begin some computer coding lessons; skills they would use to include their own animation that they create using Java Script.

Current events informed the unit as well; students recently watched this news story about how research into the shark genome is helping scientists with cancer research. They have 50% more DNA than we do, and because of this, the shark’s DNA is constantly repairing itself to prevent gene mutations that can cause disease, like cancer. Helping students to see the relevance of their study and connecting those learnings to real life inspires students to become activists and learn more.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 5.09.02 AMThe shining moment of wearing the Icthyologist ‘hat’, is the dissection at the end of the unit. In order to be prepared for this, the class spent time learning about the external and internal anatomy of the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). To start, the students learned about the anatomical directions that scientists and those in the medical field use when referring to different areas of an organism’s body. Then spent time exploring the shark’s internal, external anatomy and special sensing mechanisms (helping them detect movements in the water). Students were also challenged to put together a three-dimensional model showing the various internal organs. All of this laying the groundwork for a successful dissection.

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img_1690Dr. Clark loves to push the comfort level of her students in the name of learning new things,  and for some, dissection day itself was a challenging experience. As the classroom transformed into a laboratory, she takes the opportunity to remind the class of the ACT theme this year: Challenge Accepted!…being committed to finding learning in all experiences, and ultimately, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. The challenge was accepted and curiosity took over.

All of the shark specimens that were dissected were females, thus, students learn about reproduction in these animals as well. Spiny Dogfish sharks are ovoviviparous — meaning that the embryo develops from an egg inside the mother and is nourished by the yolk sac, not the mother, but the mother still has a live birth.  With parent volunteer helpers, the students took their knowledge and identified the body parts they had studied and were so excited to find the surprise of little shark pups when they were dissecting! One group found 5 baby shark pups! As sharks do not chew their food – students also discovered a fully intact fish! After they completed the students could also do some extra exploration on the gills and eyeballs.

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Intact Fish – Baby Shark (Doo Doo) – Yolk Sac

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I am thankful for devoted educators like Dr. Clark, who strive to open the minds of students to an array of learning possibilities, while challenging them to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Our academically talented students are constantly provided learning opportunities that present them with the chance to explore, create, problem solve, and above all, try new things. I am so pleased that we have continued to invest in providing unique and thought-provoking learning opportunities for these children. It is always very exciting to see what she has going on in her classroom. Learn more about ACT here.

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Cultivating a Love for Reading

There’s often talk about how teachers pour so much time and energy into decorating and designing their classroom experience. While some may think this is simply for fun, there is deep purpose and intention behind every detail. We know in order to stay true to our mission to build generations of lifelong learners, a love for learning and a culture of literacy must be developed as a foundational principle right from the start. So it should come as no surprise to hear that the recent addition of our Classroom Libraries is much more than a Type-A pleasing, color coordinated, neatly organized, book-nook tucked in the corner of the classroom.

Kristy Rogalla, our District Curriculum Director and a team of our teachers and literacy coaches, have been working behind the scenes on a multi-year journey to provide each and every classroom with a mini library of its own. Many hours were dedicated to the selection process, ordering, receiving, and cataloging long before they were delivered and teachers could start their organizing fun! Efforts started at the elementary level, and the focus continues to grow and expand into classroom libraries for all kids, in all classrooms.

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1st graders in Kelly Osterink’s class at Rosewood Elementary enjoy choosing their own books for independent, structured reading time.

Two years ago, the team began to build robust classroom libraries and has worked to add to them this year, with future plans to continue. Considering state education expectations; book selections have been targeted for high interest books, at a range of reading levels (meeting students where they are) and choices that include fiction, non-fiction, science and social studies. Diversity is a key focus so students can see themselves in books and find reading enjoyable and relatable. The team also plans to add more interactive read-aloud choices for teachers and student books to support the work in Units of Study for Reading. 

132669468cd79bec71be52823f973543ea171940.jpg“The development of the classroom libraries also helps for when new teachers are hired or teachers move grade levels. This allows for rich student experiences with a variety of texts in whichever classroom family they may belong.  Equity is important in this journey.” – Kristy Rogalla, JPS Director of Curriculum

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 John Scholma’s 4th graders from Bursley Elementary have been devouring new books from the classroom library.

We have heard great stories of success with all the books that have become available. Our teachers have responded gratefully for the resources and have seen a love for reading that is organically growing. Students of all ages are engaged and motivated to read, not necessarily for a reward, but for the love of reading. We find the Classroom Library project to be an uncomplicated way for us to invest in our students daily and further our mission of building generations of lifelong learners. I applaud the efforts of Kristy and her team over the last few years and look forward to seeing this foundational program grow and evolve; setting our students up for success at school and in life.

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Harry S. Truman

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Some of Jane Brown’s High School English Students; we have seen students of all ages growing a love and passion for reading with all the books that have become available in the Classroom Library program.

 

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Junior High Spanish Immersion students in Clare Chamberlin’s class have really enjoyed their classroom library to sharpen their second language skills. 

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Lots of planning, ordering and sorting work is done before our amazing JPS teachers get their hands and creative brains busy on their custom classroom libraries! These pictures are from this past summer; High school shipment being organized and new Units of Study curriculum ready for delivery.

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Watch D.O.G.S. clean up the yard

Seeing our families take pride and invest themselves in the Jenison student community is a pretty regular occurrence but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing of beauty. The passion so many parents have to bring new ideas to life and support their students is always encouraging.

Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a nationwide school volunteer program that was designed to encourage dads and other male role models (stepfathers, godfathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and neighbors) to get more involved in their children’s education; starting with spending a day volunteering at school.13316621a4b739bc6f77be779208087253774ae8

During a normal day on ‘watch’, the men may be reading and working on flash cards, playing at recess or eating lunch with students, patrolling the school entrances and hallways, assisting with traffic flow and any other assigned activities where they actively engage with not only their own students, but other students as well. There are many touch points throughout the day where these men add value to young lives, help them feel known and model taking pride in themselves and their school. It is a sacrifice of time for any volunteer to spend a whole day in the school but the kids love their presence and look forward to their involvement when the DOGS are on campus.

The Watch D.O.G.S. program has been up and running in JPS for some years now but Daniel Bush, coordinator for the program at Bauerwood wanted to pull people together to give something more back to the kids. He recently arranged the first fall clean up day for Bauerwood Elementary on Saturday, November 10.

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In preparation for the big day, volunteers worked behind the scenes to get the community involved. They took down the outdoor basketball backboards: cleaned, primed, sanded and painted them. Students then had a chance to decorate them with a paw print and sign their name. The rest of the work on clean up day was dedicated to removing unsightly brush and tidying the mulch. However, it wasn’t all grueling work, the DOGS and their pup helpers had plenty of fun with donuts, lunch and snowball fights!

Thank you to the many minds, hearts and hands, in the school and community that made these projects happen – giving our kids something to be very proud of! They accomplished a lot on that day and I love that our schools are setting the bar for other communities in the area. Check out the coverage from Fox 17 they received!

Playground Project Supervisors from Bauerwood: Chad McKinney, Brett DeBoer, Skyler Hall, Eric Kass, Max Gamble, Greg Smith, and Daniel Bush

Special Thanks to our Sponsors:

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“Watchdogs always strive to bring our students up… even if it is a simple act of showing interest in their recreation at school. The Watch D.O.G.S. may have championed this clean up effort but we had a lot of MVP’s that were there to support us… it is great when everyone jumps in and helps!” Daniel Bush, Bauerwood dad and TopDog. 

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Fox 17 was on site to capture a great story about the Bauerwood Family.

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Watch D.O.G.S know how to work hard and play hard!

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Thanks to Pater Bobcat Services for some help with the heavy lifting!

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Spreading 15 yards of donated mulch from Integrity Tree Service.

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Kid Cat Approved! Thanks WatchDog dads!

Bauerwood hosts ‘Donuts with Dads’

It’s definitely a sweet time of year when the air turns crisp and we get to enjoy a few remnants of the summer sun. After the back-to-school dust has somewhat settled, fall brings with it many special opportunities to savor the important people in our lives. I just love seeing our elementary schools encourage these special connections by hosting events like “Donuts with Dads”.

Recently, the Bauerwood students and their special father figures were served a simple donut, juice and Biggby coffee breakfast before the start of the school day. Even if it ended there as just a fun thing to do, that would be fine, but there’s more to it. It may not be a huge amount of time but the students clearly appreciate the opportunity for a few quality minutes with their breakfast buddy. They are often seen beaming with pride as they walk into school hand in hand. They love sharing their daily world with someone who loves them and is proud of them. We also see this encouraging connections between more parents and with the school as well.

We’re so appreciative, on behalf of our students, that our gyms get filled when parents have the opportunity to show up for their kids. That’s amazing and that’s just the sort of village we have in Jenison. This year, Bauerwood had another great turnout and fellow dads served over 480 people!

Enjoy these sweet moments and be on the lookout for ways you can brighten someone’s day with a little bit of quality time… and maybe a donut!

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KidCAT Players Inspire

On the surface, it may seem like another celebration for the football team but look closer and you’ll see an initiative bringing a community together and modeling some pretty amazing attributes.

The KidCAT program started about 10 years ago when a teacher had the idea to foster a connection between the elementary students and the high school, with community events such as football games. It’s not always natural – especially for families who don’t know any players personally; however it has grown to be something that the varsity players and the elementary students look forward to each year.

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Sully Russ is one of 20 seniors on the team this year. He enjoyed sharing a visit with his Bauerwood friends. Go #24!

Early in the football season, classroom teachers adopt a player; sometimes a teacher is able to choose a player that once sat in their elementary rooms. The teachers and players alike, really appreciate having the opportunity to reconnect. This year, all 43 Varsity players were paired up with an excited classroom of little Wildcats ready to keep this tradition going. Teachers guide the young students in thoughtful exercises as they get to know their KidCAT player, then share notes, cards of encouragement, and small treats throughout the season.

And the Varsity guys get to give back as well. They are able to be a positive role model; sharing their character and work ethic in return. On the big day of the KidCAT football game, all the players go visit their elementary friends and spend some time with them. When the players arrive, the kids are star struck and in awe like a celebrity has entered their little world! It’s awesome to see the guys having a good time with some silly questions and leading the way for future generations as they promote literacy, community and kindness. As October is Anti-Bullying Month, we are proud to watch as the football team has also joined the Stomp Out Bullying, anti-bullying campaign this year. I’m proud of the leaders we have in this team.

The grand finale is when the students and their families rally to cheer on their KidCAT player at the Varsity football game. At game time, students are grouped in sections with their schools and it’s so fun to see our young fans totally engaged in the game while they cheer for their Wildcat. 

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Senior, Kyle Nott leads the pack through the student tunnel at the KidCAT game, October 12. Photo Courtesy of Damion Van Slyke Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [Sandy Hill]

This summer, in an effort to celebrate the amazing teachers at JPS, we will feature one each week and their decision to make our schools their professional home. We are thankful for their boundless creativity, pursuit of their own education, and passion for not just their students, but the entire school they serve. We hope you will enjoy learning more about these incredible men and women as you enjoy your own season of rest and fun!

Cognitive Impairment [CI] Categorical teacher, Betsy Norton:

Jenison is my home and where I grew up.  I had an excellent education and experience as a Wildcat and I choose to teach here and raise my kids here!  We have recently moved back to the area and we are so pleased to be settling back into our hometown with pride and an eagerness for our kids to continue their growth as students, athletes and community members.

I think Jenison is a different school district because Jenison has an amazing support system for kids with disabilities. The special education staff is absolutely incredible. They have such a passion for creating a quality environment for all kids.  Jenison is where I developed an interest in teaching kids with special needs through the CAL tutoring program in high school. I did my Student Teaching in Jenison, and it is so good to return [after being in many districts] to the supports that were my foundation in Special Education.

My building exemplifies this by supporting our self-contained program like a family.  Sandy Hill teachers open their doors to our students and treat them as their own.  The networking, communication and “Kids First” attitude is evident every day at Sandy Hill.

I look forward to enjoying my time with my family over the summer.  We will be regulars at the ball fields, neighborhood pool and hopefully find some time to hit the local beach towns.  

Next year, I look forward to continuing my career at Jenison and getting to know more teachers and families in the community.  I hope to continue the growth of a Parent Group we started this year, and possibly starting a Special Olympics/ Unified Sports team at Sandy Hill with my amazing teaching partner, Katie Bremer.  

Thank you, Mrs Norton, for your dedication to our schools and community! We’re thrilled you’re on our team!

Mrs Norton was chosen for this story by Sandy Hill Principal, Sara Melton

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [Rosewood]

This summer, in an effort to celebrate the amazing teachers at JPS, we will feature one each week and their decision to make our schools their professional home. We are thankful for their boundless creativity, pursuit of their own education, and passion for not just their students, but the entire school they serve. We hope you will enjoy learning more about these incredible men and women as you enjoy your own season of rest and fun!

1st Grade teacher, Danielle Sampo:

I choose Jenison because this was the community I was raised in and the school district I attended.  I wanted my children to have the same experience that I was fortunate to have.

I think Jenison is different school district because it provides opportunities for all students to grow and learn while having a safe, caring community around them.

My building exemplifies hard-working, caring, selfless teachers who go above and beyond for their students. I consider my colleges my family who are always their to support and encourage one another. This positively impacts the students we work with.

I look forward to summer because I love to re-connect with my two boys and my husband all while doing what we love – boating and spending time up north as a family.

If I wasn’t a teacher I would probably be a social worker/counselor working with at-risk children because I love making a difference in the people’s lives. I would teach them that their challenges do not define them as a person but only help to mold them into who they are today.

Thank you, Ms Sampo, for your dedication to our schools and community! We’re thrilled you’re on our team!

Ms Sampo was chosen for this story by Rosewood Principal, Lloyd Gingerich