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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Buddies on the Bus

Last fall, a conversation was started by a concerned parent. One that I’m sure many of you have experienced within your own family. How much technology is too much? And while devices and access to technology can be good (you’re probably reading this on a pocket sized device right now), how do we protect our younger students from dangerous activities and content, and promote positive alternatives to screen time? And as an administrator, how can we support best practices while our students are in our care?

After months of research and conversations, I am happy to support our Jenison transportation team as they have introduced a “No Electronics” rule for our elementary school buses. Our district decided to allow the students to keep their devices in their backpacks (eliminating the potential for lost/stolen items or inappropriate use); and saw this as the perfect opportunity to go one step further to give the students something different to occupy their time.

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Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 1.17.25 PMI’m excited that a simple yet impactful solution was born. Working with the Transportation team on this idea, Kristy Rogalla, JPS Director of Curriculum followed the ‘Classroom Library’ strategy and worked with Scholastic to provide 25 buses with bins of books for the students to read while on the road.  

The bin contains books from a wide range of reading selections, appropriate for Kindergarten through 6th grade. Accomodating all readers including comics/short stories, nonfiction and more  for even the shortest bus rides. It is exciting to continue to encourage a passion for reading and life long learning; we’re already seeing very positive reactions and an outpouring of parent support.

140798462e0b154610057ef1cc788fd81427c3daProviding books for all students has encouraged them to read to themselves or with their seat partner and teachers in the classrooms have been hearing about which books they are choosing while on the bus. Bus drivers report that students have been excited to board the bus and get the books they want! The book bins are available during the traditional before and after school bus routes as well as field trips and any other times the buses are in action.

MIII4628After implementing this program, one driver shared that it was the first time since the beginning of this year that the older grade students were engaging in conversation and actually getting to know each other rather than being glued to their screens. Overall, this change has created a calmer atmosphere as students are not clamoring over the seats to see what other students are watching, listening to or playing on their gadgets.

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Jill Brower, Penguin bus driver

Jill Brower, Jenison mom and driver of the Penguin bus for El Puente and Kids First, considers herself a concerned parent when it comes to technology and is grateful for the book bins. She loves to see the excitement on the kids’ faces when they get on to see which book they can get next – as they are swapped out weekly. Older students on her bus are embracing the concept as well – often bringing their own books from home and sharing with friends. She has had a great year with her students and she loves getting to know them and creating a respectful riding environment. She has introduced “Whisper Wednesdays” – so students can read aloud but only by whispering. “It sometimes lasts just a few minutes but the kids all get a kick out of it and some students ask if we can do Whisper Wednesdays on other days too! I love my students, we have so much fun and I’m happy to see them engaging each other more and diving into the books!”

One of my favorite outcomes of this change comes from the Penguin and the Dino busses who are reporting a grassroots ‘book buddy’ program starting to form. Older students showing interest in sitting up front with the younger kids to interact with them and read to them. Readers are leaders and readers are who we are in Jenison – whether we’re in the classroom or on the road!!

It is our fundamental belief that the successful education of our students is dependent on a positive partnership between parents, teachers, and administrators. When you think of all the obvious school partners and resources, please don’t forget the support teams and your child’s bus driver! I am proud that our transportation team and our 30+ daily drivers are every bit of an extension of the commitment I feel for our students in regards to their academics and mental health and wellness.

Get connected with all the news from Jenison Transportation.

Transportation Services Letter to Parents – New Electronics Rule

Learn more about our Jenison Classroom Libraries.

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Wildcat DECA Champions

 

 

Wrapping up the school year is always an exciting time as we see the culmination of a year’s worth of work. This week, we celebrate with the Jenison DECA team as they traveled to the International Career Development Conference in Florida. Not only did they represent our community well with their hard work and ingenuity, one group finished in the top 3 – the first in a decade for Jenison.

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Emma Scott, Alyssa Sumption and Mackenzie Sanders, Jenison DECA Team, School Based Enterprise – Retail (Cat’s Corner), came home with 3rd place in the International competition!

The Jenison High School Business program has partnered with DECA  for 30 years to further classroom instruction and enhance students’ preparation for college and business careers.

Mrs. Jordan Whittecar and Mr. Joel Hunt are JHS business educators and DECA advisors. Together, they led 140 students participating in DECA challenges and projects this year. Over half of those students advanced to the State Competition, and this week, the World finalists traveled for the chance to finish out their year with a final competition. 

Alyssa Sumption topped off her senior year and 3rd DECA experience by finishing in 3rd place with her team at the International competition. What a finish! She competed in School Based Enterprise for Retail Operations. She’s so excited to share this honor with Emma Scott and Kenzie Sanders. The paper was submitted for certification in January for the Cats Corner (school store in the High School), and they presented the Market Planning section in competition.

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Alyssa and her team preparing for the world competition in Florida this week.

“The biggest skill I acquired from DECA was real world marketing skills. After DECA I can make any print ad, create any promotional campaign, come up with a marketing communications plan or even properly run an organization social media account. After being in DECA, it’s safe to say I’m ready for whatever gets thrown my way in my future career in marketing.” Alyssa is looking forward to the future with great memories of the whole process. She is grateful for the priceless experience that is DECA.  

However, it wasn’t all work and no play. The students look back fondly on the memories of bonding with their classmates on this trip with trips to Disney and hanging out at the hotel pool!

 

Jason Hoffman enjoyed his first year in DECA as a senior this year working on a Virtual Business Challenge with a focus in Accounting. Competing with a presentation outlining preloaded accounting data which is given in a computer simulation window. Jason’s challenge was to find fraud and errors. These could include mis-charging customers, not paying taxes, or not reporting bank withdrawals. “DECA has prepared me with a lot of financial knowledge and rhetoric that will significantly help me communicate with others and find jobs. I learned about personal finance, networking, and accounting skills.”

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Jason Hoffman (right) competing at ICDC

He is proud that he was the first Jenison student to qualify for Internationals with a virtual business presentation. Jason’s only regret is that he didn’t participate in DECA sooner as he feels he could have learned so much and it would have really enhanced his high school experience. After school, he hopes to go to Michigan Tech for computer science and math.

I’m so grateful for programs, and the investment of our teachers to develop our students on all levels. Giving them the opportunities to expand their minds, grow their talents and discover new passions. Congratulations to all the DECA participants and finalists. We are all very proud of you!

Jenison students receiving recognition at the international level include:

Girschle, Zachary Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Luce, Parker Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Sumption, Alyssa School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Sanders, Mackenzie School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Scott, Emma School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Cosby, Kathryn Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Likic, Vanessa Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Molenje, Clarence Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Longstreet, Travis Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Voss, Jeffrey School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Olszewski, Danielle School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Graham, Johan School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Fisher, Lyndsey Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hansen, Lauren Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hoffman, Jason Virtual Business Accounting 11th Place Overall
Strick, Megan Professional Selling – Hospitality International Qualifier
Maurice, Owen Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier
Tease, Mady Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier

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Teams putting the finishing touches on their presentations before the final judging.

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Mr. Joel Hunt and Mrs. Jordan Whittecar escorted the Jenison DECA Finalists to the World Competition in Florida, April 25 – May 1, 2019

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Zachary Girschle and Parker Luce, Jenison Entrpreneurship Team with Mrs. Jordan Whittecar

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Travis Longstreet and Clarence Molenje, Jenison Finance Team

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Owen Maurice and Mady Tease, Jenison Integrated Marketing Team

 

 

 

 

 

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Joel Hunt, Mackenzie Sanders, Alyssa Sumption, Emma Scott, Jordan Whittecar

 

Silly Staff Supporting Students

Friday nights are great for family fun around our community, and April 12 was no exception! We have seriously smart educators at JPS who aren’t afraid to let their hair down and get silly for a good cause. Staff members of Sandy Hill and Kids First engaged in a good old fashioned basketball game – along with a few crazy twists. Brandon Graham (principal of the Jenison High School) and I had a great time – not to mention some of the best seats in the house acting as referees for the event.

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The Sandy Hill Hot Shots were really dominating the court until the last minute when the Kids First Krew had a come back and won by 1 point in the end! Families in the stands brought their posters and were cheering alongside the kazoo band. The players persevered through silly antics like playing with oven mitts, dressing up in costumes, swapping the basketball for a football! It was one surprise after another and the energy was high! The students really loved joining the staff on the floor for a full court dance party! The reason behind the fun was to bring awareness to and raise money for the Jenison Parent Liaison program.

140109493dc194d009e64a2e454cedb1ba36ac66.jpg“Our mission is to promote student success by building bridges between home, school and the community. Events like these are so amazing as we see time and time again, the community show up and take care of their own in a big way.” says Mary Veldink, Jenison Parent Liaison. “Funding for our services comes from grant money and the generosity of the community. We are constantly overwhelmed by the support of the community to make a difference for the Jenison families we serve.”

With a donation of nearly $2,000, Sara Melton, Principal of Sandy Hill calls the night a success. “We’re proud to be able to support the Parent Liaison program with this fundraiser as they do so much for the community, including Sandy Hill and Kids First families. We had such a great turnout! It was a tough competition and a fun night!”

If you would like to connect with the Jenison Parent Liaison team, you can learn more here: Meet the Jenison Parent Liaisons and check out their website. They also offer a monthly newsletter that is packed with family resource ideas. Currently, their largest requests have come for food, gas cards and mental health services/counseling. Going strong in their second year, I am incredibly grateful for this connection to our student families and for the loving outreach the Parent Liaison team.


Elise Meeusen – 3rd grader at El Puente, dressed up in her El Puente tee shirt and attended the game with her grandparents. “It was so fun seeing our teachers be so silly! They were playing basketball but shooting tennis balls and footballs – and we still won!”
Maelynn Gamble – 4th grader at Sandy Hill had a great time sitting with her friends Carmen and Harleigh. “I thought it was hilarious when they were trying to play with the tiny tennis ball! It was very funny! I busted out so many moves on the dance floor too. We had a great time!”
Julie Betancourt – Kindergartner at El Puente attended the game with her family.
“I had so much fun cheering for Mr. Gingerich and my teachers! They were doing the silliest things! And I can’t believe Mrs. Giere had to crack an egg on her head!”

ABC’s of Life

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

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

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Jocelyn Brown

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

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

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

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

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Adelynn Brown

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

Other staff and student favorite themes over the year include:

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

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

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

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

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ABC’s of Life by Little Truths Studio

 

BEE the Change!

One could say a seed was planted when Vanessa Tran chose a random topic for an 8th grade essay assignment a few years ago. She got to work researching the dwindling population of bees and how important they are to the ecosystem. The statistics astounded her as she learned about their contribution and common misconceptions. Thus the ‘pollination’ of a new passion.

Now a sophomore and member of Jenison High School’s student council, Vanessa decided to speak up and take the opportunity to lead a social awareness campaign. The student council committee has embraced her vision, spent months preparing their messages and tactics; and have recently launched their multiple platforms for spreading the word.


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Enjoy a great family night of fun and information to learn how you can BEE THE CHANGE!

Family movie night with concession sales (Showing Bee Movie and Spider Man Homecoming)

Local beekeeper Q&A conversations during the evening

Donation opportunities to help JHS build two hives to support a healthy, local bee population in partnership with Post Family Farm.


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Their primary goal is based on the fact that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is necessary for making change happen. The students have engaged social media tools to spread their message as far and wide, and as quickly as they can. With community involvement, they hope to spread awareness to over 10,000 students, parents, and leaders across West Michigan. Their message is simple: Bee a good neighbor and help save our pollinator friends! Check out their newsfeeds and join the conversation!

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The media community has taken notice as well. Check out local news coverage of the campaign: WWMT

This week, the students have also shared a goal of fundraising. The money raised will give them the opportunity to build two new bee hives to support a healthy, local bee population. These hives will be located at and maintained by the Post Family Farm.

Projects like these are so exciting as student council initiatives are almost completely student run, outside of school hours. I’m continuously impressed by our student body and their willingness to support other people’s passions. I hope you will support them in learning more and get involved in making our world a sweeter place!

It’s not surprising that they are well on their way to meeting their goal! They have been selling Post Family Farm donuts, tee shirts and buttons.

Students are using memes to spread quick bites of education.

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Outdoor Science Adventures

One of the best things about Michigan is the experience we have with the change of each season. In addition to outdoor recess in just about any weather, our Transitional Kindergarten class studies science and sharpens other skills while engaging in outdoor project based learning.

Through a valuable partnership with Ottawa County, our Early Childhood teachers plan their classroom curriculum to link up with Ottawa County naturalists and trips to local parks.

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These off site nature learning experiences are ongoing throughout the school year. They provide fresh air and great physical activity, offer a shift in learning and teaches them how to explore individually as well as be part of a group. Students are learning to notice things, compare and think specifically about all their senses. Often the school year starts with timid students as they may be riding a bus for the first time and are given the freedom to explore and learn from the world around them.

136300071d3ce24f3b6df4ba1a5a0c28762e8b0aThe students’ curiosity and questioning skills shine through while they are discovering nature. Teachers are often able to better relate to students who struggle with traditional skills in the classroom. They may begin to count objects in the woods (ex: sticks or rocks), or use pre-reading skills while looking at maps of the different parks. They are enjoying themselves and grasping learning in an alternative environment. These trips also help deepen relationships between teachers and students providing helpful context for when they return to the classroom.  

Our hardworking Jenison teachers aren’t afraid to engage learning on different levels for all students. As a result of this unique science program, these little learners have swelled in confidence and independence. No matter the season or the weather, excitement about these trips continues to grow, always looking forward to their next outdoor learning adventure.

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Teachers, Blake Smolen and Megan Thomas enjoy an outdoor science exploration with their students and paraprofessionals, Kris Andres and Mary Dejonge.

Mary Poppins Musical is ‘Practically Perfect’!

Yesterday was the first day of Spring; excitement was high and sighs of relief could be heard across the stage. Despite losing 10 days of working sessions due to bad weather over the winter, they made it – spring is here and they are ready to sweep you off your feet! 

The Jenison Thespians are proud to present their spring musical, Mary Poppins. It’s the broadway version of a quirky story about a flying nanny with her trademark long coats, umbrella with a parrot head and rosy cheeks. An irresistible tale known by many; Mary Poppins teaches children with patience, kindness, and a little bit of magic. Through numerous recognizable and unforgettable singing adventures, Mary and her friend Bert help the Banks family set things right – maybe more right than they’d ever been before. 

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In true Mary Poppins fashion, high school cast members surprised their Jenison elementary friends this week by popping in at their schools for a flash mob. Appearing out of nowhere, the actors performed a singing preview of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! for a stunned but excited lunchtime audience.

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The hard work and attention to every last detail by the cast and crew, along with countless adult volunteers, will not go unnoticed! You will be delighted with outstanding acting, stunts and artistic talent. The songs, dance steps and full live orchestra performance will leave you flying higher than a kite!

There are 4 more opportunities for you to catch this family friendly production this weekend. You will not want to miss it! Visit www.jpsarts.com for tickets

A huge thank you as well to the JHS direction staff for the Mary Poppins show. Director: Todd Avery | Music Direction: Sarah Hazel | Choreography: Emily Ambs | Orchestra Director: Dan Scott

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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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