Spanish Immersion Opens Doors to New Cultures and Possibilities!

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

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Cover Artist Anijah Huffman

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One of the authors, Owen Cole

1st Grade, Shelly Giron

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

20161123_1120593rd Grade, Kristin DeYoung

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

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

image-812524th Grade, Kelli Darciaimage-81333

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

5th Grade, Rebecca Chicklon

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

capturePuertas de inmersión by Dane DeVries

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

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

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

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

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

Rosewood Rocks the Read-a-Thon!

MIII8519 copyLast week, Thursday, Rosewood students and teachers took on the all day Read-a-thon challenge!  Organized by the Parents Club, the Read-a-thon was a fundraiser intended to raise money for the school media center “in a purposeful way”, according to first grade teacher and parent club board member, Kelly Osterink.  “We had a financial goal of $12,000 but more importantly, is that we do this type of event to get the kids invested in their own school.  They take ownership of things for which they do the work.”  Principal, Lloyd Gingrich adds, “Rosewood’s media center is literally at the very center of our school.  The doors are never locked, classes walk through it to get to other parts of the building throughout the day and kids have access to our books all day, every day.  Our Read-a-thon raised $11,781 to purchase new furniture and books to make our media center an even better spot to find a great book and curl up to read it.”

“The Read-a-thon was completely planned by the Parent Club.  We wanted a great fundraiser for our school and our purpose this year was to make improvements to our media center.  [In past years we had walk-a-thons and made improvements to our playground.]  A read-a-thon seemed perfect.  The Parent Club found sponsors for prizes and additional funding.  They purchased a new book for each student in the building [chosen by teachers] and created a bookmark to advertise the sponsors.”

MIII8584 copyThey had a very full day beginning with a kick-off assembly and a special visual of the furniture that will be purchased with the money raised.  The students also had the joy of being entertained by the Jenison High School Thespians performing book-themed skits for the assembly audience.  Throughout the day reading was the center of each activity with visits from various groups including the Institute for Cultural Communications which featured home schooled students acting out stories for grade K – 2.  High School students from West Ottawa came to participate in reading activities with the Spanish Immersion classes and Rosewood 5th graders had some quality time with their Kindergarten buddies for special buddy reading time.  The 5th and 6th graders were allowed to relax and spend the day in their pj’s while other classes enjoyed reading outside in the sun!  Special guest, Geronimo Stilton, surprised students at lunch and by 1:30 that afternoon all of his books were checked out of the library!

MIII8608 copyThe Read-a-thon culminated in a special assembly at the end of the day to celebrate not only a fantastic day of reading, but to announce the fundraising winners.  “All students who participated in the fundraising received special “coupons” for free treats from local vendors.  Their names were also put into a random drawing for prizes.  Then, prizes were awarded to the top student in each class, top three students in the building, and classroom with the most participation.”

Mr Gingrich was encouraged by the passions for reading he saw throughout the day:  “I loved seeing how students really got into their books and that they didn’t want to stop reading.”  As for Ms Osterink’s class, they were hooked immediately and asked if they could have another Read-a-thon the next day!  “I want to thank the parents and community for their support of our read-a-thon.  We couldn’t raise the money without them.  We appreciate how much the Jenison community (and beyond) support our school.  At Rosewood, we see ourselves as a family – teachers, students, parents, community – and through an event like this, getting the whole family involved, we are all working together to encourage reading and emphasize the importance of reading; we are working together to grow the next generation. ”  — Kelly Osterink

We love that Rosewood, and all of our schools, are instilling a passion and interest in reading!  Thank you, parents for planning this incredible event and thank you, teachers, for making reading fun!

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New Teacher Spotlight!

Introducing four more new teachers with Jenison Public Schools this year!

Keli Dykstra

Before bringing her skills and passions for Spanish Immersion education to Bursley Elementary, Kelli Dykstra was living and teaching in Costa Rica.  She was keeping busy teaching English immersion in a private, bi-lingual school in this Spanish speaking country.  Hoping to continue her career in language immersion and also return to a more permanent job in the States she came home to West Michigan.  She has loved to see the growth of her students both academically and socially and “Their bilingual abilities have blown me away.  I am very encouraged by their hard work everyday.”  Ms Dykstra adds, “I am adamant about the value of encouragement and pushing the kids to be the best that they can be. ”

Mary Lynn Randall

Mary Lynn Randall comes to the Early Childhood Center after four years of teaching in the Ludington school district.  Now, she spends her days with our Pre-K [or transitional Kindergartners]!  Her husband was commuting to work from Ludington to Grand Rapids and after they had their daughter they knew it was time to make a change.  She had heard good things about Jenison from her sister, Ashley Hankamp, who teaches art at  Bauerwood and Pinewood and she knew it would be a good fit.  Mary Lynn is encouraged by her students “eager minds and energetic spirits” and thoroughly enjoys being part of the Jenison family.  When Mary Lynn isn’t wrangling the energetic spirits of her Pre-K students, she is true to her farm-girl roots and enjoys spending time with her family in the outdoors hunting, fishing and scoping out good auctions.

Myca

Myca Belknap grew up traveling with her missionary family and never felt the need to “put down roots”, that is, until she found herself at Rosewood as the new 4th grade Spanish Immersion teacher!  Now she says, “I can already see that this is going to be easy because our little school already feels like family!”  Myca and her husband Dave, have four children and enjoy a very musical and artistic family with all of them displaying talents in these areas, “We love to “jam” in our studio/basement with our friends and their kids in the colder months, and enjoy our music acoustic style in our backyard during the summer and early fall.”  She has taught Spanish Immersion in South Haven and Forest Hills before coming to Jenison and says, “The family atmosphere, quality staff, good relations between educators and administrators, and high parent involvement are only a few of the qualities that to me spell “EXCELLENT SCHOOL, EXCELLENT DISTRICT”.   The more I explored, the more attractive JPS became.  I can truly say that I have “landed my dream job”!”

Myca wants parents and the community to know, “I am committed to my students’ development and feel so privileged to be trusted with the children in this community.  I take my responsibilities both with joy and care because [as a parent myself] I understand the hopes, dreams, and expectations that we have are born out of a deep love and desire for our children to prosper and be as successful and be as happy as humanly possible.  To this end, we all strive.  We make sacrifices.  We make the “hard decisions”.    We go the extra mile.  After that, we must trust their future [and ours] to the children we have loved and trained.  My trust is with hope, because I see a bright future in the students that I teach!”

Tyler Moran

Tyler Moran joins the Junior High staff after graduating from GVSU and teaching in various districts around West Michigan.  Now he teaches our 7th and 8th grade students with Cognitive Impairments and Learning Disabilities in the areas of Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Study Skills. He was attracted to JPS after volunteering a couple of years ago in Lisa Douglass’ classroom “and I realized what a great staff and student body they have here.  After the first interview, I knew it was meant to be.  I went home and told my wife that I need this job and that I can’t see myself working anywhere else!  I am truly blessed to have been even considered for this job!”  Tyler’s family is growing!  In addition to his stepson, Gavin, with his wife, Melissa, they welcomed a baby girl into the fold last month! He has enjoyed celebrating his students academic gains this year and is encouraged by their desire to learn — even in Middle School!  “I am ecstatic to be apart of the JPS family and I can’t wait to see what my future holds here at JPS.”

We are so thankful to add these teachers and their passion for educating to the Jenison family! 

New Teacher Spotlight

Introducing three more new teachers with Jenison Public Schools this year!

Beth

Before joining the second grade Spanish Immersion class at Rosewood, Beth Zuwerink was teaching in Rockford Public Schools.  She had taken some time off to raise her son and missed Spanish Immersion so she decided to return to the classroom this year.  “I am looking forward to helping my students grow as students and as individuals. As I watch my son grow and develop, I’m even more reminded of how special and unique each child is.  I feel blessed to be able to get to know each of my students and to help them realize their full potential.  And, of course, I am also looking forward to all those goose-bump moments that come as I watch my students’ Spanish language skills progress!”  Beth is ‘hugely passionate” about immersion education and Rosewood students are lucky to have her on their team!

Olivia Mwakanandi

Olivia Mwakanadi is a new Intervention Specialist at Bauerwood Elementary.  “My students have already made great gains, and it’s so encouraging to see that my teaching is helping them (as an intervention specialist). It’s encouraging to be present for the “lightbulb” moments in my kids.”  Olivia is working on her Masters Degree in Learning Disabilities at Grand Valley and was most recently subbing at Bursley Elementary which she enjoyed immensely.  Her first introduction to Jenison was during her student teaching in 2012 and I really loved the team atmosphere I sensed, and how caring the teachers and staff were, not only for each other but for the kids.” When I subbed for 6 weeks at Bursley, the feeling of togetherness and team atmosphere continued, and I just loved how welcoming everyone was and how comfortable I felt after only 6 weeks. I am thankful to work in such a wonderful district, and that I am so excited for the opportunity to teach here!”

Sami Duval

Samantha [or Sami] Duval is a new Fourth Grade teacher at Bursley Elementary.  Like Olivia, Sami spent her student teaching and a period of long term subbing in Jenison at Rosewood and Bursley.  “The first time I walked into the building I knew Jenison was a great place to be as I was surrounded by such a kind and welcoming staff.”  Sami also took some time coaching the JV Cheerleading team and as the assistant coach for the Varsity team.  So far this school year she is already inspired by her students:  “[They] are so kind and giving. They took Kid President’s Socktober challenge and they collected 680 pairs of socks to give to the homeless. Watching the joy in their faces as they counted socks everyday was such an amazing experience.”  When Sami isn’t teaching she is spending time with her husband, their dog, Rosco, and drinking Biggby coffee.

Thank you to all of our teachers for sharing their passion and talent with our community!

Spanish Immersion at Rosewood + Bursley

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Imagine sitting down to dinner at your favorite, authentic Mexican restaurant and having your 7 year old speak in fluent Spanish to the native speaker taking your order.  The waiter is so impressed that he returns to the table with the cook to hear your son or daughter speak easily in a second language.  For 200 students and families in Jension, this is their reality as their child [or children] are enrolled in the Spanish Immersion program at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools.

In just two months, Jenison families of pre-schoolers will begin lining up at the Administration Offices to hand in an application for their student to become part of program that includes grades K — 3 and next year, 4th grade as well.  “Recent brain research indicates that learning a second language is a powerful experience that helps the brain of a young child develop. The young brain will actually grow the connections needed to learn the language.”   [Source: Dumas, L.S. (1999). Learning a Second Language: Exposing Your Child to a New World of Words Boosts Her Brainpower, Vocabulary, and Self-Esteem/ Child February, 72, 74, 76-77.]

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“The main benefit is that our Spanish immersion students are learning to read, write and speak in another language as they learn everything else that elementary students learn in Jenison.  Research tells us that over time their academic skills and abilities will surpass their non-immersion peers due to this early learning of a second language.”
— Lloyd Gingerich, Rosewood Principal

Students immediately begin learning in a Spanish only environment and teachers will utilize a variety of creative techniques such as songs, choral responses and movement to help students learn and understand. Because of this focus on oral comprehension, students are ultimately able to begin using Spanish at their own pace.

A Rosewood 1st grader is escorted across the Bridge is in this special ceremony.

A Rosewood 1st grader is escorted across the Bridge is in this special ceremony.


Yesterday, the Rosewood class of first graders participated in an important ceremony: Crossing the Bridge.  This takes place mid-way through the first grade year and from this point on students are expected to only use Spanish in the classroom.  Until now, students know that they can fall back on English when they get stuck on a word they don’t know but that will no longer be the case.  Students will be expected to use the Spanish words they do know to explain what they mean or ask for the meaning of a word. They are crossing the bridge into speaking only Spanish!  It’s a very special day and parents and other Spanish Immersion classes were in attendance to celebrate and honor this milestone.

And as our students have experienced first-hand, learning a second language isn’t just about vocabulary; it comes with a broader knowledge and appreciation of the culture that comes with it.

“Our students sound ‘authentic’ in their Spanish because they learn from such an early age and learn to speak with an accent.  We have staff who represent Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Bolivia so students are exposed to different accents and vocabulary building a richer understanding of the language.”
— Rane Garcia, Bursley Principal
Graduates and Spanish Speakers!

Graduates and Spanish Speakers!

Parents can complete an application for their rising Kindergartner after the screening process is complete. Please note that they will only be accepted at the Jenison Center for the Arts from Monday, March 24 beginning at 7:30am through Friday, March 28 at 4:00pm.  You can learn more about this amazing program and download an application by visiting the Spanish Immersion website.

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jenison public schools, spanish immersion program

Jenison’s Spanish Immersion Program

If there were one thing I could instantly add to my skill set, without a doubt it would be the ability to speak another language. In our evolving global marketplace, effortlessly connecting with others from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities would be a priceless tool.

And while I may not know domingo from julio, I’m so proud to say that our Spanish Immersion students DO! Jenison kindergarten and first grade students at Bursley and Rosewood Elementary Schools spend their days listening, speaking, and learning in Spanish. And from what we’re hearing, they are bilinguals in the making!

Keri, mom to first-grader Alex, recently shared a story of her family’s mini-vacation to Chicago, where they ate at a Mexican restaurant. When the waiter (a native speaker) approached their table, he greeted the family with a friendly “Hola“; to everyone’s surprise, was answered by an eager six year-old.

Keri saw her son bloom when put in a real-life situation where Spanish was spoken. She heard him string sentences together and wondered if he could possibly be making any sense! The waiter assured her of his gains when commenting that he “wouldn’t have known the difference from a kid who grew up in a Spanish-speaking country.”

Mrs. Alferink works with a small group at Rosewood El.

Having started in 2010, Jenison’s Spanish Immersion program has grown to over 100 participating students and continually has a waiting list for interested families. Our reputation precedes us and we enjoy a diverse group of children attending as “school of choice” students.

With plans to add additional grades each year, JPS continues to demonstrate that we are preparing young minds for a world that is constantly growing and changing. Spanish Immersion is just one way that we are pushing boundaries and opening possibilities. 

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If you are interested in our program, please contact either of our participating elementary schools for more information:

Bursley Elementary: 616.457.220

Rosewood Elementary: 616.669.0011