Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JJHS]

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!

Math teacher, Jason Gort:

“I choose Jenison because I believe we have a great community of teachers, administrators, students, and community members!  We also have great programs in place for the fine arts, athletics, and many extracurricular activities.

I think Jenison is a different school district because we do a great job promoting and presenting all the efforts of our students within our hallways, gymnasiums, and our Fine Arts Center.  Jenison is a large school district that offers an exceptional education, along with a rigorous courses to ensure our students are ready for the next step.  

My building exemplifies this by being a tight knit community of educators that support all students that walk through our hallways!”

Of course, like all of us, Mr Gort is enjoying the break from school. “I look forward to summer because I love to…go camping, visit the beach, spend time working on house projects, hanging out with my kids, and doing electrical work!”

He is also looking forward to starting his 15th year of teaching and getting to know the new 7th graders! But, if he wasn’t teaching, he’d be your “go to guy” because of his love of the outdoors and working with power tools and trucks.  “If I wasn’t a teacher I would probably be… in the construction field, a walking mailman, or a garbage man!”

When asked what his students would be surprised to learn about him, shared some truly shocking information! “Something my students would love to know about me is that I have been shocked by electricity over 100 times in my lifetime!”

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

Mr Gort was chosen for this story by Junior High School Vice Principal, Heather Breen

 

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

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!

Science teacher, Alice Putti:

“I choose Jenison because it is a supportive and caring community that values values education.  There is a tremendous amount of parent support at home and in grades K-12. I think Jenison is a different school district because from the administrators to the parent volunteers, meeting student needs are the priority.  Student success is important to everyone in the district.

This attitude is exemplified in the ways that every teacher and administrators spends countless hours working with students in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities.  

This is summer I am looking forward to attending conferences and running summer workshops for AP chemistry teachers.  Teaching is my passion but I also love to learn too. During the summer I attend chemistry education conferences, so I can learn new content or teaching strategies. I am part of the Biennial Conference Committee and help plan a national chemistry education conference that runs every other year in various locations around the country. In addition to teaching at JHS,  I also am a consultant for College Board and I run workshops to help train AP chemistry teachers. Most summers I run 2-3 workshops and they are usually four days long.”  

This coming school year marks and important milestone for science at JPS. “Next year will be the first year that elementary school girls who participated in the Girls in STEM club will attend high school.  I am looking forward to seeing them in the building and learning if the program has made a lasting impact on their lives. The last three years have been a tremendous success for Girls in STEM and I hope this will continue in the future.  

Be a guide for a company that leads hikes/bike rides etc or a guide for a city tour or historical location.  When on vacation, I love to go on tours and learn about the area, history and culture. As a guide, I would be able to share my knowledge with other people. [Sounds kind of like being a teacher, huh?]”

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

Mrs Putti was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr. Brandon Graham

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

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!

Math teacher, Caroline Clement:

I was born and raised in Jenison – and I love Jenison.  My husband Dana was also raised here, and we are graduates of Jenison High School.  We are very proud of the education that we received at Jenison High School, and how the educators and the curriculum have shaped who we are as human beings.  We learned many lessons during our time here – both academically and life lessons from some of our legendary teachers during the 70s and 80s.  I want to continue that legacy during my time here at Jenison.  We have raised two children who have also graduated from JPS, and they are also very proud of their experiences here.  They received a great education, have created lifelong memories, and their time here has helped build a foundation for the rest of their lives.

I think Jenison is a different school district because of the community that the teachers build with the students.  I taught previously in another district, and it was a great experience that I enjoyed very much.  But Jenison High School has created a climate where the teachers are not friends with the students, but are friendly with the students.  The culture is one of respect, and the students and teachers are able to effectively work together in a friendly and comfortable climate.  Everyday I look forward to coming to teach my students.  I thoroughly enjoy their attitudes toward school, toward their teachers and toward their peers.  I attribute this to the climate and culture that has been created since Kindergarten.   I  also believe Jenison is unique because of the academic focus.  We are driven to be the best, so that when our students graduate, they can have many doors open to them.  The teachers invest a great amount of time in creating curriculum that is beneficial to all of the students.  Also, the teachers truly care about the performance of their students. There is constant sharing of ideas between teachers to help improve the academic successes of our students.  Teachers are willing to give up personal time to work with struggling students to help ensure their success. 

My building exemplifies this by being visible in the hallway, working with students during lunch and after school and showing a true interest in the students’ lives.  Teachers are always visible in the hallway, allowing us to chat with students in between classes.  It allows us to speak with current students and past students in a more casual manner.  We also care about our students lives outside of the classroom.  Teachers are very visible at sporting events and concerts and plays.  We like to know how our students our doing in sports, the arts, and at their jobs. Also, there are many student led clubs that are monitored by the teaching staff to ensure that all students can find a place at Jenison.

I look forward to summer because I love to read.  During the school year I am busy prepping for my job and I also coach swimming for seven months, so I do not have the opportunity to read as much as I would like.  During the summer, I read as much as I can.  I teach Summer School  and do some part-time coaching in the summer, but I love to read in my spare time.  I write down names of recommended books from my avid reader friends, and I try to read as many as I can during the summer months.

At the end of every summer I look forward to the start of the new year because of the opportunity to meet new people.  My job remains similar every year because I teach similar content areas, but I am fortunate that my job also changes every year because I get new students.  This is a job that allows me to form new relationships every year, and that is a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I do get sad at the end of every year too, because those relationships, especially with seniors, are coming to an end.

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would probably be a lawyer.  In my mid-twenties I was a banker, and I decided to make a career change.  I was choosing between law school and education, and I chose education.  My husband always tells me I should have been a lawyer because he believes he has never won a fight in our 28 year marriage!

There are a lot of things that my students don’t know about me:  I am a first generation American.  I am varsity letter winner from the University of Michigan for swimming.  I took organ lessons for 11 years and have played in churches and in weddings.  Lots of little odd and interesting things in my life.

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

Mrs Clement was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr Brandon Graham

Summer Series: Teachers Choose Jenison [JHS]

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!

Spanish teacher, Lindsey Remley:

“I choose Jenison because the schools are a main priority for the entire community. I once heard a life-long Jenison resident say that Jenison IS​ the schools. He was referring to the fact that families here faithfully support the schools. I see this in parent-teacher conference conversations, packed gyms for Pink-Out games, and sell-out shows for plays. My family and I are moving into the Jenison school district this summer because we want to be part of the community and take advantage of the Spanish-immersion program.

I think Jenison is a different school district because of how much every​ teacher cares so much about every​ student that enters the building.

One way my building exemplifies this by leading the charge to implement diversity training. This year, high school staff has been meeting with families, attending speeches, learning about implicit bias, and working towards being better educators for our increasingly diverse student population.”

When Mrs Remley is not encouraging students to persevere to learn a second language, she enjoys spending time with her family. “I look forward to this summer because I get to be home with my young children. I have a daughter who will be three in April and a son who will be one in May. I feel rushed during the school year but in the summer, I’m able to slow down and spend precious time walking to the park, eating homemade popsicles, and just hanging out with my kids.”

If Mrs Remley wasn’t teaching, she would have probably pursued a career in journalism “If I weren’t a teacher, I would probably be a journalist because I love to talk to people, hear their stories, and write concise, grammatically accurate pieces.”

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

Mrs Remley was chosen for this story by High School Principal, Dr Brandon Graham

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

It was a beautiful day as the Jenison Class of 2018 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas last Thursday. We are so proud of all of our graduates! They have all displayed perseverance in difficult times, hard work to meet their academic, athletic or performance goals, courage to try new things, encouragement to others, joy in each high school milestone, and grit when things got tough. We look forward to hearing about all the ways you impact the world on your journey and we are proud to call you Wildcats for life!

Thank you to our teachers, support staff, and administrators for all the support and encouragement you have given these students to prepare them with an excellent education for wherever life takes them!

Go Wildcats! 

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face until we meet again. – abridged Irish blessing

Junior High Honors Night!

Last week students from the Junior High were honored for their academic achievements! Their teachers, administrators, and parents stood by proudly as students accepted their awards.

Some awards are given based on the student meeting particular academic benchmarks, but others, like the Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award, is given to students who are nominated by their teachers for making strides in areas that includes areas outside of academics such as marked improvement in behavior. And while some awards mark one-time victories, the Exemplary Achievement Award has a two year requirement period.  In order to be chosen for this prestigious award students volunteer through community service, be on the honor roll every marking period and be involved in a club or team.  The student athletes award winners are required to participate in four seasons of a sport, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, have zero Level Two disciplinary issues and have all ones and twos work and class conduct marks on their report cards. Phew! That’s a lot of hard work!

Honors were given to students for achievement in the following areas:

  • M-STEP Award
  • Principal’s Outstanding Educational Improvement Award
  • Perfect Attendance
  • Honor Roll
  • Presidential Academic Awards
  • Science Olympiad Team
  • Student Council
  • Reading Award
  • Spelling Bee Room Finalists
  • Above and Beyond [awards for Art, Life Skills, Tech, Music + Student Athletics]

All of the students awarded at Honors Night should be excited about their accomplishments, not only during their junior high years, but for the years that prepared them as well. Throughout their elementary and junior high years they have displayed strong character, strength, and perseverance. They’ve demonstrated time management skills and the ability to problem solve. And they’ve made the decision over and over again to never give up. All of them have worked hard, possibly working through a subject or project that wasn’t their strong suit to succeed and be recognized by the teachers that care about them so deeply.

Thank you to our creative teachers who continuously go above and beyond to make sure our Jenison students are learning in a way that works for them but is also challenging. These stellar students may not be done with their educational journeys, but they have certainly set the bar high for themselves that those around them.

We’re proud of you, Junior High Honorees! These are the life skills that will take you into high school and beyond showing the world the value of a JPS education!

 

 

Jenison Celebrates Autism!

According to the latest information released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 59 children has Autism in the United States [April 26, 2018].

Incredible ECC teacher, Tricia Maday + a student

Here at JPS, we do all we can to learn the unique needs of our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum and support them to have productive, challenging, and fun days at school just like every other kid! One of the ways that kids and families are supported is through the Autism Family Network which exists to serve the districts in the more eastern portion of Ottawa County.

Kristen Gray, JPS Teacher Consultant for students on the Autism Spectrum, says, “Autism Family Network was created when Jennifer Breen, who had previously been a board member of Autism Support of West Shore, observed that families from eastern Ottawa County participated in meetings and special events less frequently than those families who resided in western Ottawa County.  While events have been organized to be easily accessible to families in Jenison, Coopersville, Hudsonville, and Allendale, AFN welcomes all who would like to attend.  The majority of families involved are from Jenison, Coopersville, and Hudsonville, however we also have members from other districts in Ottawa County and a number of districts in Kent County. ”

Parapro Extraordinaire, Diana Zeitunian with a student

In an effort to support and engage the families they serve, Autism Family Network hosts a wide variety of opportunities such as bi-monthly parent seminars on a variety of topics*.  “There are also monthly family fun events, which allow families to try activities, most often free of charge, without the concern of a meltdown or spending money should a child not want to participate.”

Finally, to support parents who often rely on each other for advice, a listening ear, an understanding nod, or any form of support, monthly parent gatherings are scheduled at places like Panera, where parents can gather to talk.  “During the summer and school breaks, the locations of the parent gatherings may change in an effort to accommodate parents who may struggle with child care.”

Stupendous 6th Grader, Monae William

Parents who would like to join the mailing list should visit www.myautismfamilynetwork.org.  Joining the email list does not commit a family, but does ensure updates will be received regarding future events.

One of the ways that the Autism Family Network supports families is through an annual event called, “Celebrate Autism”. While the specifics of this even change each year, the purpose remains the same. “This event is an opportunity for families to celebrate Autism and what it means to the AFN family as a whole. One of the highlights of the event is the distribution of the Essential Piece Awards. These awards are given to individuals nominated by families involved in AFN. Each year, families have the opportunity to nominate one person who has made a difference for their child. During the event, nominees are recognized and given a personalized plaque thanking them for contributing to the Autism community.”

This year, six JPS employees, 1 current student, and 1 JPS retiree were selected as award winners!

Monae William – 6th grader at Bursley
Kate Walker – Teacher in ASD program at Bursley
Sara Hayes – Teacher in ASD program at Bursley
Tricia Maday – Teacher in ASD program at the ECC
Jenny vanBiljon – 4th grade teacher at Sandy Hill
Diana Zeitunian – Paraprofessional at the Junior High
Salena Corner – Social worker at Rosewood, Bursley, and Bauerwood
Les Rowsey – Retired vocal music teacher from the high school – now teaching individual music lessons

Thank you to these amazing JPS team members! Our students on the Autism Spectrum are more successful because of you, but our district and our JPS family is better too! If you see one of these  incredible people around school, be sure to tell them “way to go” and, of course, “thank you”!

Brilliant Bursley teacher, Kate Walker + a her student

Super Social Worker Salena Corner with a parent

Sensational Sara Hayes + a student

Magnificent Music Teacher Les Rowsey + a student

* Currently, these seminars take place at Jenison Junior High, in the media center, on Thursday evenings.

Star Student: Colton Ritsema

Senior Colton Ritsema isn’t one to brag. But he should – even just a little. As he walks down the hall, teachers and fellow students alike, call out to him and offer high-fives as he passes.

Colton was nominated as our High School Star Student by his principal, Dr Brandon Graham. Colton is involved in DECA, the LINKS program which pairs a general education student with a special education student throughout the day, he is on the basketball team and works in the school store as part of his advanced marketing class.

Colton recently chose to attend Concordia University in Ann Arbor where he will continue his basketball career. He is looking forward to being away from home, “but not too far.” and he believes the opportunities that college will bring are worth the adjustment of leaving home. He is still deciding a major or direction but is considering education or sports marketing.

He believes a leader is strong in their beliefs, is willing to listen to others, has good communication skills, and is teachable. [Another star student who is wise beyond their years!] He loves to read and spend time outdoors. While he doesn’t see himself as a successful fisherman just yet, he enjoys trying. He believes his friends would say he is kind, fun to be around, and easygoing. Colton lives with his parents and his sophomore brother Josh. He also has two goldfish names Viking and Billy who have defied the odds and lived well into goldfish old age. [Colton is not sure if they will join him in a pursuit of higher education.]

Colton feels prepared for college but will miss the “great teachers at Jenison and the relationships you develop.” He also notes that the “atmosphere at Jenison High School is one of balance between hard work and fun and this is something he will also miss. He would like Mr Abram Brosseit of the history department to know that he thinks he’s an “exceptional teacher” and if he becomes a teacher one day, he knows he will draw on his experiences with Jenison teachers as inspiration and a valuable resource.

It’s hard to imagine a better high school representative of a star student!

Congratulations Colton! Your hard work and humble spirit are an encouragement to everyone who knows you! May your time at Concordia continue to prepare you well for an amazing future! We’re proud you’ll always be a Jenison Wildcat!

Star Students: Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock, + Christine Duch

Christine Duch, Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock

Jenison Junior High Vice Principal couldn’t select just one star student this year. There were too many to choose from so she skirted the “rules” and nominated three: Taya Jenison, Hannah Paddock, and Christine Duch.

They are all eighth graders this year and are involved in so many activities it’s hard to image they also go to class, but of course they do!

All three of these hard-working ladies are involved in student congress, be nice, choir, they give the morning announcements every day, and all served as ambassadors for the Chinese Winter Exchange Program. Additionally, Hannah pays volleyball and participates in 4H. Christine plays basketball, softball, and is planning on joining 4H.  Taya also plays softball and basketball, plays the tuba in the band, participates in 4H, and is in theatre [most recently she played Skipper the Penguin in Madagascar!].

While they each have different connections to each other outside of school [Taya & Hannah attend the same church, Taya & Christine played basketball together], the three of them became friends last year in seventh grade.

Hannah admits to being “very, very unsure” about going into Junior High two years ago. But, with encouragement from her parents and teachers, and a helpful orientation process she felt more comfortable. Christine adds that junior high “isn’t as bad as you think it will be. You get to choose your electives which gives you more responsibility.” All three are excited about next year and heading across to the High School. “There’s more classes you can take like business and working in The Green Bean which sounds really fun”, says Taya. Christine is looking forward to the opportunities at the high school, and being prepared for college.  Taya hopes her future after high school includes a degree in Agriculture from MSU so she can own her own farm one day. She would also like to exercise her love of being social by working as a receptionist, she says, giving a nod to the amazing people who manage the Junior High office. Hannah sees a future as an athletic trainer and Christine hopes to be a teacher or coach. “I like kids and I feel like I have the personality to be a teacher who can handle the kids who need extra help.”

Mrs Breen nominated the girls because of their leadership qualities but how do the girls perceive leadership? Christine says that a leader is someone who “takes someone else under their wing and takes the lead when no one else wants to.” Taya adds that being a leader means you “be yourself and stand up for others.” Echoing that idea, Hannah says that she sees leadership as “doing what is right and standing up for what is right.” These ideas are clearly informed by their participation in the anti-bullying program, be nice. Hannah says that being part of be nice means that she seeks out someone who might be alone [especially at lunch] and invite them to join her, and Taya says that be nice is about kids helping others.

They all know their teachers have worked hard to prepare them for high school and beyond. Taya would like to acknowledge that Mr McCarty is an amazing teacher. He teaches social studies and she admits this is not her “strong suit” but Mr McCarty makes it fun and interesting. Hannah would like Mr Ohman to know that he makes math easier and clear, even though she “absolutely dislikes math”. Christine adds that Ms Gerber also makes math fun even though it’s the last hour of the day!

During their time with the Chinese Winter Exchange Program, all three girls helped individual students visiting from China for two weeks. They were together during the entire school day, introducing them to their friends and trying to get to know them. They were able to learn about the differences in Chinese and American schools, the impact of China’s One Child Law, and what it’s like to live with heavy pollution in China’s major cities. They all learned about Chinese culture and different ways to communicate when there was no common language.

It’s clear that these students are leading the way as they head into their freshman year! They are looking toward their futures, learning to value differences in others, and working hard to take advantage of all JPS has to offer.

Congratulations Taya, Christine, and Hannah! You are definitely all superstars with bright futures! Your hard work and commitment to learning all you can is inspiring! We’re proud to call you Wildcats!

Star Student: Amaya Rodriguez

When Sandy Hill principal, Sara Melton, was asked to nominate a Star Student it didn’t take her long to select Amaya Rodriguez!

Amaya is a 6th grader who is heavily involved in school life. She serves as a safety, helping to keep our youngest elementary students safe and taken care of, she was selected for the honors choir and works with a younger student with special needs.

She reports that her favorite subject is math because, “I’m really good at it.” She is also a talented artist who loves to draw people she sees in her mind and Amaya is also beginning to practice photography with her phone which she uses to take pictures of landscapes and then draws illustrations from the pictures.

Amaya would like to give a shout out to Mrs Messinger, her 4th grade teacher, because she remembers that Mrs Messinger requested to have Amaya in her class after seeing her play soccer at recess with the boys. “I’m not really a “girly-girl”; I don’t like to wear dresses but I love to play soccer and football.”

Amaya lives with her mom, younger brother, grandma, grandpa, and their dog Shiketa. She takes her inspiration for being a star from her mom, and she has learned to “be really strong”, “be a leader” and “know my boundaries”. [Maybe Amaya could help us adults with these!] She knows that being a leader isn’t easy but important. “A leader helps other people do their best. They look for the best people to work with and be friends with.”

She is looking forward to next year and braving the halls of Jenison Junior High – she’s actually been looking forward to this since the third grade! “In third grade, school became my second home and getting to junior high meant I was closer to my future.”

Amaya plans to pursue a future in music, going to college and majoring in piano performance and vocalization. She wants to encourage other students that “it doesn’t matter if you think you can or you can’t. The best think you can do is try your best.”

It is easy to understand why Amaya was selected to represent Sandy Hill and all JPS elementary students this year. Adds Mrs Melton, “Amaya is a unique individual who has a huge heart.  She is inquisitive, sincere, and a hard worker.  She brings great energy and encouragement with her.  We appreciate Amaya and know that she has a bright future!”

Congratulations, Amaya! Your kind spirit and confidence are an inspiration to all of us and we can’t wait to see where they take you! We’re proud to call you a Jenison Wildcat!