Jenison Food Service Continues to Serve

As the mandated school closure was announced one week ago, we were all thrust into unprecedented times. Immediately, the Jenison Public Schools administration team, teachers and staff brainstormed plans to make sure our local families would be cared for during this time. A major concern was making sure that daily meals would not become an obstacle.

On a typical school day, Mary Darnton, Director of Food Service and her team in the Jenison Food Service department will serve around 130 breakfasts and nearly 2,000 lunches. At the onset of the schools being closed in response to COVID-19, Mary and the team were faced with a few challenges that needed to be solved quickly.

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Jenison Public Schools food service meals are proudly prepared on site in each school building with about 90% of the meal items served hot and fresh. As they planned to host socially-distanced distribution sites; it was imperative that the meals served during the closure were 100% cold items.

The meals served still adhere to the USDA outlined meal pattern that includes a prescribed combination of whole grains, proteins (for lunches), fruit or vegetable (both for lunches) and milk. The month’s scheduled menu changed overnight and creative problem solving kicked in. The food safety and sanitation approved staff is now lovingly preparing the meals ahead of time at the Central Kitchen and using perishable items as soon as possible. They are working with other partners in the community to donate what might not be able to be used in time, and food orders continue to trickle in from approved commercial suppliers.

foodhandout-1foodhandout-9As the distributions began this week, the sites have remained calm with much appreciation expressed from the families. We’re off to a great start and anticipate the demand to increase in the coming days. I’m so grateful for Mary and the entire Jenison Food Service Department for their quick thinking and eager attitudes as they put this program into place so quickly . 


Jenison Public Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for children in need during the statewide school closure. Packaged breakfast and lunch is being made available through our food service program to any child ages 0-18 (or up to age 26 with special needs). The details are as follows:

FREE BREAKFAST & LUNCH

Friday, March 20 and Beginning Monday, March 23, families may pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays. This encourages less travel, minimizes social contact and allows a pick up of free meals to cover multiple days.

Time:  11:00am-12:30pm

Locations:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison

  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison

  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison

  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison

As many JPS students employ school of choice; the Jenison buildings may not be the closest to their home location. This is a statewide program, with no proof of enrollment required. Families may visit any distribution site in any school district. Anyone is welcome to drive up or walk to any site and may pick up meals for the number of children who are at home.


For families who are in need of food and can’t get to any of these four locations, please email me at ttenbrin@jpsonline.org and we will get food delivered directly to your homes. Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding this distribution program.

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JJHS Thespians Celebrate Diversity with Honk Jr. Musical

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The highly esteemed Jenison Public Schools Theatre program is back again with a story that will warm your heart on the coldest of winter days!

Honk! JR. is a celebration of being different that is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its wit, charm and deeply moving message. The Jenison Junior High School cast, crew, and production team have worked extensively creating an amazing production and are thrilled to share this timeless story with you.

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The story you will see presented on stage has endured and evolved since the original published in the 19th century, but has remained as endearing as when it was first read and enjoyed in Denmark.  It continues to be relevant, as its themes are those of growth, understanding, and acceptance.  

Most of us can relate and have probably felt like the Ugly duckling at one point or another. Comparing ourselves to those around us, wondering why we couldn’t be more talented or more admired. Perhaps, wishing we could change something about our unique selves in order to better “fit in” with the world around us. Some may even have experienced very ugly circumstances because of our differences. 

Performances will take place at the Jenison Center for the Arts

Evening | January 23 and 24 | 7:00pm

Matinees | January 25 and 26 | 3:00pm

Tickets | $12 adults | $8 Senior Citizens | $6 Students under age 18 

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I promise, you and your family will be filled with joy and pride as the main character finds the strength to hold his “head up high” and be himself. He reminds us that each and every individual has something very special to offer the world.

In the end, it is not Ugly’s surprise transformation that is the most remarkable. The more significant shift occurs within his community. When Ugly makes the decision to return to his family who rejected him and the poultry who picked on him, he opens the door for reconciliation and forgiveness. By enthusiastically accepting him in the end, they dedicate themselves to celebrating differences. With Ugly’s return, they find strength through individuality rather than division.

I’m always impressed with the teamwork and community mentality from the directors, students and thespian parents. Many junior high students are new to the stage but we see each and every single member of the cast and crew embrace their unique role – playing their part to the best of their ability. You will feel uplifted and inspired by their performance, and I hope you will celebrate and encourage the ways in which each of us is “different” and unique. (Click here for the full photo gallery.)

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Break a leg, cast + crew! Once again, we are amazed by the hard work and dedication of the Jenison Thespians and can’t wait to see your latest production! You can get your tickets for this weekend here!

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Introducing the Jenison Junior High Theatre Directors

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Carol Johnson (Choreographer), Julie Oosterink (Director) and Sarah Hazel (Music Director)

Carol Johnson is Director of Orchestras at Jenison Junior High, and loves being a part of the Jenison theatre program. Over the past seventeen years, she has served on the director team for over a dozen of Junior High and High School musicals as choreographer, vocal director, pit orchestra director, elementary director, pianist, and violinist. She also helps direct a youth musical each summer at her church. Starting in early childhood, she loved spending countless hours on stage as a dancer, instrumentalist, vocalist, and performer in many musical theater productions in her hometown.

Although, this is Julie Oosterink’s first year directing the JJHS Musical, she is no stranger to the stage or the Jenison Theatre program. As a Jenison student she studied theatre through electives, participated in the props crew and also sang and dance in the high school musicals. She found a love for directing during Festival of Plays. In 2018, she joined the JHS staff as an English Language Arts team member. She is thrilled to join the JJHS theatrical team this year and looks forward to celebrating the magic of theatre with Jenison students as they share their talents with our community.

Sarah Hazel is also a proud Jenison alumni, who graduated from JPS in 2011. Her love of theater began at a young age performing in musical productions at church. In high school, Sarah found her niche in the theater program both on and off stage. Sarah earned her Music Education degree at Western Michigan University and is now a full-time private voice instructor at JPS. She has been working with the Jenison Theatre program since 2016. To be a part of Jenison productions once again, this time as a music director, has been so enjoyable and very nostalgic. She feels very blessed to work with a team of teachers, students, parents, and volunteers that is so passionate about the arts.

Honk, Jr. Performance Photos

Check out the photos to get a peek at a show you don’t want to miss! Click here for the full photo gallery.

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Click here for the full photo gallery.

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Let’s Talk Vaping

There is no sugar coating the truth: real danger is lurking behind the sleek design and sweet flavors of e-cigarettes. The use of these devices and the vaping trend has been named the most serious adolescent public-health crisis our country has faced in decades.

Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is the fastest growing trend among teens. According to the 2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey, 1 out of every 4 teens has used a “vape” in the past month. While updated study results will be forthcoming, the rapid growth of this trend suggests that the new numbers will paint an even more harrowing picture for the families in our community.

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Nationwide data and graphic source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019

 

At Jenison Public Schools, we are proud to offer a world-class education that prepares students to achieve their goals and chase their dreams. This means that we are focusing on developing the whole child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Which is precisely why I feel this topic is well worth the attention. Providing information for our students to make the best choices for today and their future is the right thing to do.

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David Stults developed popcorn lung after exposure to dangerous food chemicals. He is now informing students about the dangers of similar vaping substances.

Partnering with the Jenison Parent Resource Center to inform and educate, Dr. Brandon Graham welcomed speaker and vaping awareness advocate, David Stults. Dave spent the bulk of his day with us for student assemblies that occurred earlier today. There is also a free townhall event for parents this evening who are interested in more information. If you are unable to attend tonight’s event, please reach out to Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition for possible upcoming dates.

This is where we need to start – knowledge is power. When you know better, you can do better! This information will be vital in revealing the truth about the results of our students’ choices – and help parents know how to join the conversation.

Student Assembly Today:

Nearly 1,600 students (grades 7, 8, 9 and 10) went to the Jenison Center for the Arts today to participate in a presentation about the unknown truth and major health risks of vaping. Every moment of interruption to their traditional school day is worth the information gained.

David Stults, who is retired from GE became passionate about warning people of vaping dangers after being diagnosed in 2009 with bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known as “popcorn lung.’’ This is an incurable and possibly life threatening disease. Dave had been exposed to a chemical that was activated into a vapor during the microwave heating process. This same chemical is now commonly used in vaping products today. Life for Dave might be different today had someone warned against inhaling – or warned that the popcorn contained any hazardous chemicals. He has since become recognized as an expert in the field of vaping and has spoken at dozens of schools and to more than 25,000 students in 2019. His goal is to fight back while informing this generation of students and their parents.

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Stults aims to portray the real-life picture of what the chemicals do. He may look like a healthy person standing before them but he lets students know that their choices could be setting themselves up for an incurable disease with 40% lung capacity sooner than they might think. 

During the presentation, Dave asked 1/3 of the students present to stand. This represents a nationwide average of the students who have vaped. He acknowledges that the students may think this is a fun and social thing to do, but quickly educates that they are voluntarily inhaling and possibly becoming addicted to a deadly cocktail. The chemicals in e-cigarettes plus the nicotine present makes addiction and lifelong bodily harm a very real possibility; and it can happen quicker than you think.

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2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey. We must change this perception! 

This 1/3 of students standing also contains the students who may be vaping on a regular basis and could already be addicted. Vaping pods have as much nicotine in one pod as 200 regular cigarettes. Which is a staggering number and almost impossible to keep track of. With a regular cigarette, it is lit, smoked and discarded. With the vaping pod, there is no way to know how much is actually being ingested. Every push of the button brings another hit, and when it can be done with minimal disguising effort such as inside the school bathroom or even the classroom – the frequency is likely to be much higher. 

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The numbers of students vaping looks different among the age groups in the assemblies today. The influence of this information among the younger kids will hopefully be strong enough to encourage them to never even try it. The older students may be faced with a different take away – now that you know better, what will you do? If you have students or grandchildren in 7-10th grade, I urge you to ask them what they learned today and open the dialog.

Free Town Hall Tonight:

Tonight, there is a free local town hall that is meant for parents, educators, youth pastors, community members – anyone who works with our youth. A one time presentation from experts like Dave Stults may make an impact on our students, but lasting change comes from continuing the conversation through support and reinforcement at home. As adults, we cannot afford to lack understanding regarding this trend or be flippant about these dangerous choices.

While Dave addressed our students today, he had this to share with parents: if you discover your child is vaping or addicted to vaping, it’s not time for discipline and disappointment, it’s time for connection and support. Help them navigate a life change within a positive environment. While these devices are fairly new, their reach is far and wide and hitting our young people harder than the temptation of the traditional cigarette. Also, far less research has been done on the full affects on the body and the challenge of quitting may be greater. More advice on quitting can be found here.

It really is scary to think of the health issues our students might have to deal with and the path this sort of possible addiction could lead them. I sincerely hope the result of these sessions is less use and a more informed community. Young adults who are able to make healthier choices while encouraging friends with positive influence. As well as a more aware and better informed parent community about the unintended health and addiction consequences that can result from vaping.

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HELPFUL INFORMATION ABOUT VAPING:

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Graphic Source: The Real Cost, US Department of Health and Human Services

 

Language Arts and Life Skills

Jenison Junior High students are combining key components of Language Arts studies with a journalism focus to sharpen powerful life skills. The 8th grade students invited community members to help them hone their listening, speaking and writing proficiency.

Packed with students and friendly interviewees, the JJHS media center was abuzz with conversation. Students were prepared to practice natural speaking and active listening but it also required them to do some quick thinking on their feet. Taking quick, succinct notes was also a challenge.

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Dawn Dykstra shares her perspectives on Jenison as a former student, a current parent, and a current teacher.

Mr. Dustin Morley, 8th grade Language Arts teacher, is excited for this new kind of learning experience, citing that this is pushing kids into an area they may not be overly comfortable with, but gives them valuable practice for these crucial skills. Students rotated stations in the media center conducting multiple interviews. After the class hour concluded, the students worked to complete the project with a feature story about one of their special guests.

I was honored to be among the group sharing my experiences through natural conversation. The students asked some really great questions, taking the discussion in interesting directions. I’m glad our teachers are always looking for creative ways to provide authentic learning experiences. And I’m very encouraged to see the next generation embracing face to face interaction and learning to be active listeners, critical thinkers and contributing citizens of the future.

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Matt Kroon graduated from JHS in 2000; he shares about how the area has changed, including the addition of Rivertown Mall.

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Jamie Scholten discusses how the cost of things such as gas has changed drastically. 

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Doug Smith, a retired JJHS social studies teacher, uses sports props to engage students and talk about his experiences. 

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Kara VandenBerg shares about her work with dogs, including Bernie the golden retriever. 

 

 

JPS Partnering with Parents

Our district’s highest priority is the care and education of the children in our community. Everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by staff that is committed to fulfilling the district’s mission which is, “to ensure that each and every student grows intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially in a safe and caring environment.” Not only do we have the best-of-the-best taking great pride in the curriculum, quality of instruction, extra-curricular activities, and beautiful facilities that are available to support our students; my colleagues are consistently collaborating with each other, and engaging with parents to help children find success now and in the future.

1254344780175e62ac9fd57a668510fa5024ca78Those collaborations can happen by focusing on the school work at hand and beyond. The Jenison Parent Liaison program has provided family unit support for students with a steadfast commitment over the last few years. I’m so excited to see it continue full steam ahead with some very compassionate and enthusiastic people leading the way. As Parent Liaisons representing the Family Resource Center, it is their mission to help families be successful at home so that students can be successful at school.

The Family Resource Center can be of assistance with mental health support, food insecurity and clothing, navigating insurance processes, as well as supporting teachers and families through crisis (death, grief, loss). They also offer programs for homework assistance, leadership and character development. 

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Mary Veldink (left) has been a 3rd grade teacher for 23 years but has been involved with the Jenison Parent Liaison program since its inception. Mary is now a full time Parent Liaison and assists Pinewood Elementary, Sandy Hill Elementary, El Puente, Jenison Junior High, and the JIA. Beth Morey (right) has been with the district for 11 years as a speech pathologist in the ASD program. She is also a fully dedicated Parent Liaison and will now support Bauerwood Elementary, Rosewood Elementary, Bursley Elementary, Jenison High School, and Steam Tech families in her new role. They both support ECC families.

They are so pleased to be able to connect so many families with the resources they need to make life a little smoother. Recently, they saw many community families join for the 7 week ‘Meet up and Eat up’ summer food service program. It was exciting to have numerous high school sports teams also come alongside them and serve food and play with the kids during that time. 

The Family Resource Center was also able to assist with family scholarships for camping vacations at Spring Hill. And when the summer was winding down, they were handing out backpacks and supplies where needed.

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Sue Hetfield and Jodi Huyser, Jenison ECC PreK teachers and ECC Family Outreach leaders were given a match-making vision to change the lives of preschoolers and their families.

I would also like to introduce another program for the PreK families, The ECC Family Outreach. This program came from two very passionate preschool teachers who had a shared vision based on the needs they see everyday. They have worked tirelessly based on the belief that it is essential to make a home-to-school connection as soon as possible. Matching families with resources and making families successful at the beginning of a child’s school experience has the potential to change the trajectory of that child’s life. They are offering monthly sessions to engage with parents regarding topics such has healthy habits, budgeting, outdoor safety, healthy eating and literacy.

The problem solving passion that is behind both the ECC Family Outreach and the Family Resource Center is a strong characteristic of our #BeRelentless community.  I’m proud of the hard work that has transpired to bring our families support when needed. When we’re doing what’s best for our students and families, we can’t go wrong. Please check out some family resources below or ask your school principal to learn more about these programs.

If community members would like to help the Family Resource Center support other Jenison families, there are ongoing collections of gently used, in-style, in-season clothing for community partner, Threads Clothing MinistryOther donations of activity gift cards for families to spend time together on weekends or school holidays are very helpful as well (Rebounderz, Bowling, Movies, Zoo, etc.).

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NHA Parenting Class Advertisement

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ECC Family Outreach

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4-H: Swine Summer School

When Hudsonville Community Fair week rolls around, many people are enticed by the food, thrills and grandstand entertainment. But the 4-H experience is another very exciting and educational component. Currently, the Hudsonville Community Fair is the center for over 3,000 4-H exhibits – reflecting the strong agricultural roots of our community. 

You may have wandered the livestock barns to visit the animals, but have you ever considered the amount of work these young people have accomplished over the course of the summer to prepare for fair week? And did you know, some of them are Jenison students who don’t even live near a farm?

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These Jenison families were hard at work this summer with project pigs for 4H. Arianna and Ava Jenison, Taya Jenison, Ryerson and Jameson Kass, Gavin and Grayson Roby, Ally and Ellie VanTimmeren , Hannah and Rylie Paddock, and Christine Duch.

 

Since 4‑H began more than 100 years ago, it has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. They strive to engage youth in urban, rural or suburban communities to reach their fullest potential through experiential learning and the development of practical skills. Jenison teachers and parents have seen the benefits of this program first hand and they love that their students are getting a new perspective outside of their typical school and social circles.

This year, a collection of Jenison students (1st grade through 12th grade) spent much of their summer working on a 4-H Swine project. The process starts in May when the students look for a pig to purchase. They weigh about 40 pounds and reach around 300 pounds by fair time. Since some of them don’t live on a farm, housing the pig somewhere is a consideration as well. The students have much to learn and many decisions to make in order to raise their pig the best they can before the showmanship competition at the Fair in August. They are required to understand all components of the project, fill out paperwork correctly, give their pig the proper care including appropriate weight gain, grooming and being clipped well and making sure their skin is in the best shape possible.  

During the upbringing of their project pig, the students make observations, ultimately presenting them in a notebook for review as part of their final presentation. Christine Duch is a 10th grader at Jenison High School and was glad she could channel some of the learnings from her art teacher to creatively express information during the notebook portion. Using her art skills helped her feel more confident about the project. 

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Grayson Roby with his pig, Duck. (L) When he brought Duck home. (R) When they went to the fair.

Jenison High School Assistant Principal, Julie Roby enjoys seeing her boys take on this great responsibility and work hard all summer. They have also created great bonds with friends they have met through the 4-H program in the past years. “My kids are gaining life skills – they have learned how to self-advocate. They are by themselves when they give their sales pitch to local businesses (to secure a buyer), they are by themselves in the show ring, and they shake hands with adults after the auction and the pig is sold.  They have developed a confidence in their ability to represent themselves.”

Hannah Paddock is a 10th grader at JHS who has exhibited for 7 years, her 5th grade sister, Rylee joined 2 years ago. Mr. Ohman and Mrs. Hinkle are both Jenison teachers who have left an impression on Hannah – they have been so supportive and always stressed a ‘have fun and give it your best effort!’ kind of message. Hannah has appreciated that and applies that thinking to her fair projects. “It doesn’t always work out as we may wish but as long as we do our best and have fun with the process, it is always worth it in the end!

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Hannah Paddock, Christine Duch and Ally VanTimmeren watching Taya Jenison show her pig.

Some of our Jenison students have come away big winners for their efforts at the fair. The Paddock family won Grand Champion (best of the entire show) 4 times during their 7 year 4-H career. Multiple awards were received within the group this year as well including Ava Jenison, 2nd place; Rylee Paddock, Reserve Champion Junior Showman, Grand Champion Barrow (overall) and 1st place in individual class; and Hannah Paddock, 1st place in individual class.

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This is Ava Jenison’s 5th year showing pigs at the Hudsonville Fair. She received a Second Place ribbon this year for her work with her pigs, Annie and Willie.

In the 6 years Arianna Jenison has been participating in 4-H, she and her parents have learned more than they ever thought they’d need to know. They’ve given shots and taken care of other animal emergencies. One year, they were faced with a case of pig pox (like chickenpox for pigs!). Arianna enjoys the showmanship day, meeting new people outside of school and the satisfaction of hard work. She has also learned a great deal of financial responsibility with all that comes with raising a pig. 

The students all agreed – they love the work and they come to be really fond of their swine friends, however, it’s a lot of stress wrapped up in a week of excitement. While they’re a little relieved it’s over, they’re looking forward to starting again next spring and making many more great memories at the fair!

It’s exciting that our Jenison students are pushing themselves with determination and perseverance; and representing our school so well! I’m proud to see them taking advantage of the 4-H experience!

When you head to the fair next year, make sure to take time to visit the 4-H exhibits and ask those hard working kids some questions. There’s something for everyone and the student exhibitors love to share what they have learned.

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Senior Arianna Jenison with her pigs, Kim and Kanye. She has participated in the 4-H pig project for 6 years.

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Shown with her pig Sully, is Rylee Paddock, a 5th grader at Rosewood Elementary School. This is her second year participating in 4-H. This year, she received multiple awards: Reserve Champion Junior Showman, Grand Champion Barrow (overall) and 1st place in individual class.

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Shown with her pig Winston, is Hannah Paddock, a Sophomore at Jenison High School. This is her 7th year showing at the fair. This year, she received 1st place in individual class.

Retiring Teachers – Class of 2019

Final music concerts. Conference competitions for spring athletics. The final day of regular classes for our seniors is tomorrow… just a few of the many indications that we are screaming down the homestretch of this school year. With all the excitement that comes with closing the books and looking forward to a well deserved summer break, there are bittersweet moments.

As we soon graduate over 300 students, we also say goodbye to 7 amazing teachers who have acted as champions for your children and led the way for their students, literally for generations. This June, I wish the best to a group of teachers who represent 236 years of wisdom and experience. If your students have had the privilege to study under these teachers, I encourage you to reach out, wish them well and thank them for their deeply dedicated careers.

  • Eileen Maday
  • Linda Reimink
  • Steven Waters
  • Karen Ambs
  • Paula Riordan
  • Brenda Meade
  • Sandra Johnson

Eileen Maday

High School Reading Specialist, English and Social Studies Teacher

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Eileen is the Reading Specialist at the High School and also teaches English and Social Studies. In a few weeks, she will conclude 30 years of teaching – 9 years with Holland Public Schools and 21 years as a Jenison Wildcat. Her favorite memories of teaching are the moments when students have a realization of their potential, master an important skill, achieve a goal, or feel supported through a difficult time. Her favorite book to teach in literature classes is To Kill a Mockingbird as she feels there are so many powerful messages that will always be relevant to young people.  

If Eileen were not a teacher, she believes she would most likely have had a career with a social service agency, working with children in the foster care system. Her family has grown through foster care and the adoption of two of their children.

This summer, Eileen and her husband Tim will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Tim recently retired after 30 years as a firefighter and Eileen is looking forward to more time together. They enjoy traveling, hiking, cycling and spending time with their 5 children and 7 grandchildren. They have exciting plans to hike in all of the national parks and spending time in Europe soon.

“My parting thought is one of gratitude to all of my colleagues.  It has been a honor to work with so many gifted educators who have inspired me with their dedication and sustained me with their friendship.  I am truly thankful.”   ~ Eileen Maday

Eileen, we are truly thankful for your commitment to our students over the years and we wish you the absolute best as you travel to see all the places you have taught about through the years.  

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Eileen Maday with  our Multicultural Advancement Scholars group attending the Calling All Colors Conference at Grand Valley State University.  This is a group she has  sponsored with several colleagues over the past few years.

Linda Reimink

High School Physical Education and Health Teacher

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Mrs. Reimink with some 3rd hour freshmen following a fun and challenging work out.

Linda is a Physical Education and Health teacher at the high school. She has worked for 32 years to teach students the value of fitness and overall health. Helping them develop healthy habits and encouraging good decision making – hoping to set them up for a great future. She enjoys being active herself and loves that her additional role as the Varsity Women’s Golf team has incorporated that as well. In her spare time, she enjoys helping lead worship at her church and reading. Some of her favorite books include Educated, The Help, Water from My Heart, Chasing Fireflies, and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

She’s had the chance to build many great relationships over the years and working with colleague, Kari Kossen every day is icing on the cake. Another highlight of her career is when a student works hard and reaches a goal (running farther and longer than they ever thought possible). She feels that she and the students generally have a good time together and loves the daily laughs they share.

If she was not a teacher, Linda would probably be employed in the corporate wellness field. Actually, her retirement plans may include some part-time work in that arena. She loves the idea of being involved in a mentoring program for college students. Linda and her husband Ron have two grown children and 2 granddaughters. Retirement for her also means more time to travel, spend with family and friends, and will probably include baking for them.

Thank you Linda, for your dedication to send our students into the world with a bright and healthy future ahead of them.

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Mrs. Reimink and her Jenison Varsity golf athletes.

Steven Waters

Junior High Choir Director

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Mr. Waters has enjoyed teaching and seeing the JH students progress during their choir career.

Steven proudly completes his 23rd year in Jenison this year, rounding out his accomplished 35 year teaching career. Prior to his time as Jenison Junior High Choir Director, he taught Elementary Music, Band, and Choir K12 in other districts.

He is fueled by the hard work the students give him daily, and the feeling of chills when the group wrestles with a section and eventually gets it just right. He shares the immense excitement of the students when they sing a 4-part chord in tune. Experiencing all those firsts with the students and watching them grow and progress through their choir journey is something he will never forget.

As much as Steven has enjoyed the hard work of planning and preparing students for concerts, he and his wife, Jeanna look forward  to attending concerts together – especially at Christmas (a notably very busy time for music teachers).

They have three children, three grandchildren and one more grandchild due in June. They are thoroughly enjoying this phase of life and looking for more of life’s simple pleasures, including backyard cookouts, gardening and outdoor adventures. Steven will also continue making music as he participates in the worship team at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

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Mr. Waters directing his 23rd and final junior high concert, at the Jenison Center for the Arts.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work in the Jenison Public Schools with all the wonderful Jenison Families over the past years! Each year has been filled with many blessings on a professional level because of my wonderful students and my exceptional colleagues. I’ll miss hearing the excitement in the voices of the kids as they come into the choir room each day or when they come to the concerts. I’ll miss all the great laughs and tears with the students AND with my music teaching team.

I count myself fortunate to have been here doing what I love so much with people that I love.” ~ Steven Waters

Steven, thank you for using your mastery of music and love for people to point our students toward a successful future. We wish you a beautiful, musical future!

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A student grabs a selfie with Mr. Waters at the conclusion of his final choir concert.

Karen Ambs

Music Teacher for Sandy Hill and Rosewood Elementary Schools

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Mrs. Karen Ambs

Karen Ambs is one of our energetic, big-idea music teachers in the district. Her primary role is lead music teacher at Sandy Hill and Rosewood. She came to Jenison with 4 years of teaching under her belt including kindergarten physical education, typing, library tech, theatre, and art. That diverse beginning set the stage for a passionate, creative career here.

She has also spent time leading the elementary honors choirs for her schools and working on the choreography for the Junior High musical productions. After 32 years of teaching, she is anticipating a more flexible schedule to spend time with her husband and two grown children. She also looks forward to teaching private voice and piano lessons and tapping into her full potential as a recently self proclaimed “gym addict”.

She also has a passion for performing and volunteering with local community theatres. If Karen was not a teacher, she thinks she would involved in a non-profit of some sort.

She experiences bright moments daily when her students discover their own love for music but the memory of listening to one of her young students (who is in our CI program and largely “non-verbal”) sing incredibly beautiful solos will be forever in her heart.

“Don’t forget to take care of each other, and yourselves too. It has been a true honor to serve and teach alongside the amazing educators at Jenison Public Schools.” ~ Karen Ambs

Thank you Karen, for your contagious enthusiasm and tireless service. You have encouraged generations of students to love music and the arts, and our community has been blessed by that.

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Mrs. Ambs is often the first to teach the students to play an instrument.

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Mrs. Ambs with Sandy Hill music students

Paula Riordan

Bursley 3rd grade teacher

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Paula Riordan has been teaching at Jenison for 30 years, in second and third grade classrooms. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. She and her husband have four grown children, all of whom are married. She is excited that her family continues to grow with beautiful grandchildren that she looks forward to spending more time with – including a planned family trip to Disney World. Paula and her husband are also devoted Notre Dame fans and are anticipating attending at least one game each season.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching for me are the relationships I have developed with both staff and students over the years. It’s such fun to have former students stop by my classroom to visit. I sometimes don’t recognize high school or college students by face because they have changed so much, but their names are etched in my brain and it brings back a flood of memories.” ~ Paula Riordan

Thank you Paula, for your dedication to a very fun age group of students. Your guidance and persistence helped build strong educational foundations for many young Wildcats!

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Brenda Meade

Bauerwood 3rd grade teacher

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Brenda Meade counts herself very lucky to have completed her student teaching at Bursley Elementary before she even graduated. Twice as lucky that there was a position at JPS for her upon graduation! Now, 33 years later, after she and her husband, Joe put their own three children through JPS – she still loves spending time and making memories with her Bauerwood 3rd graders daily. 

When you spend nearly your entire adult life in a community, it’s hard to pinpoint a most favorite memory, but a few might stand out. Such as the time a student’s backpack was moving, and when she asked him to open the zipper, out popped the head of a kitty cat. Another time, a mother duck and her ducklings wandered in from the courtyard at Bauerwood Elementary and decided to visit her classroom. The memories are plenty but making relationships is the best part! It’s exciting that she still has contact with many past students – from recent years, all the way to her early years of teaching.

During her time away from school, she enjoys camping, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Photography is something Brenda has always been interested in and she looks forward to developing her skills with some classes with her free time in the future. Another fun hobby she enjoys is refinishing thrift shop furniture.

“Thank you to the students, parents, and my JPS family for allowing me to have my dream job for the past 33 years.” ~ Brenda Meade

Brenda, we are so thankful you have been a part of the Jenison community for this phase in your life. We wish you the best as you have more time to pursue your interests and keep building relationships.

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Sandra Strobel Johnson

High School Social Studies Teacher

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At the age of 21, Sandra unknowingly discovered that she wanted to share her love of learning. She took a student teaching position and she knew the direction of her life had changed forever.  

She will tell you, “I have never looked back. Forty-four years later, I still love my work with young people, trying to ignite passion and encourage truthful self-reflection. I truly get a “kick” out of high schoolers.  I will miss the daily interaction with my wonderful, sometimes challenging, young adults. Many have left an indelible imprint on my brain and soul. Others have pushed me beyond my planned presentations to think more deeply and question more fully.  My life has been enhanced by their presence in it.”

“Few have been blessed with a job that provided joy, laughter, even some tears, as well as intellectual inquiry, and a chance to share with amazing teenagers my passion for psychology, sociology, and CAL (education through cross-age learning).  Teachers are required to write yearly goals. Throughout my career, my first goal was always to simultaneously engage my students’ hearts and brains while allowing them to discover their unique contribution to the world. As I told them frequently, no two people have the same finger prints.  Even identical twins have different prints. I do not believe this is an accident. The world is awaiting their own unique touch.”

“To my many students, it was an honor and privilege to serve as your teacher.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude and sadness that this chapter of my life is coming to a close.” ~ Sandra Strobel Johnson

“I hope I have illuminated my small corner of the world with intellectual curiosity, passion, and a love of learning, enabling my students to shine their internal light on their corners of the world.  The future lies in their hands. I am proud to be an educator nurturing students and deepening their commitment to enhance their world.”

Sandra, thank you for pouring yourself into your students and your willingness to let them fill you as well. We wish you the best as you find time to travel, read, learn even more and spend time loving on your two daughters and two grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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JJHS presents Seussical the Musical, Jr.

A few weeks ago, the Jenison Junior High Thespians traveled to our elementary schools to give students a sneak peek of what was to come in their show, Seussical the Musical, Jr. While they used limited props and were unable to travel with their amazing set, this is always a fun experience for the actors and audience alike and sparked great excitement.

Since then, the finishing touches have been finalized and the JJHS production officially opens the curtain tonight! Led by Director – Holly Florian, Music Director – Sarah Hazel and Choreography Director – Carol Johnson; this group of dedicated and passionate students (on stage and many hidden behind stage) have demonstrated amazing team work and put their talents to work creating something very special.

The story on stage begins with a small boy, with a big imagination. With assistance from the Cat in the Hat, an inspiring and peculiar story will unfold; transporting viewers into an imaginative, colorful, and playful world. At first glance, Horton is just a jolly and friendly elephant, but soon he exhibits a dedication to his beliefs with inspiring determination. Director, Holly Florian embraces this theme and says: “In a year where young people have committed to making their voices and beliefs heard on a National and International level, Horton’s story has been a reminder of the power of listening carefully, and not being afraid to speak up in the face of injustice.”

136804905aecb19948c2b14793d449147828c32a13680527681ae838fca1bfffc5d630c0f4652fd8This show will be a hit for all ages, as many of us grew up reading Dr. Seuss and his stories remain a classic for students today. Ms. Florian captures the essence of the joy behind this show for her and the students saying, “His stories allow the reader to be transported to a magical world where anything is possible and even the “smallest of smalls” can have a role in making a positive change in the world.”

Treat yourself this weekend and make time to witness this spectacular show! I promise, you will leave your seat inspired to follow in Horton’s footsteps and make the world a better place! Show times are January 24 and 25 at 7:00pm and January 26 and 27 at 2:30pm. Tickets are available 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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