Meet Our New Parent Liaisons!

Last school year, veteran Bauerwood teacher, Angela Tracy, had an idea. She wanted to know if there was more that could be done for students and, specifically, their families, who were in need of some extra support, especially if that help meant students would have more success in school.

Ms Tracy wrote a proposal and after some bumps in the road, the Parent Liaison program was born! Ms Tracy, along with part-time help from Pinewood 3rd grade teacher, Mary Veldink, are Jenison’s parent liaison’s and have been excited to get things rolling with this school year. The mission of the program is: Building bridges between home, school, and community to promote student success for all families of Jenison Public Schools. But what does that look like?

Ms Tracy and Ms Veldink will meet with parents who are looking for help in making connections with school such as: communicating with teachers/administrators, assisting with meetings at school, Kindergarten orientation, Jr High and High School transitions, parent volunteer opportunities, making calls and home visits,  and connecting parents with each other. If families need assistance connecting to resources outside of school, the parent liaisons are here for them as well! These resources include help with a crisis situation such as a need for food or clothing, housing, help with attendance or tardiness, dealing with a family illness or death, divorce or separation or substance and/or physical abuse.

There are three branches that have taken shape with the program thus far. The first branch is program development where Ms Tracy and Ms Veldink work on developing systems and sustainability. They are developing school-based teams and helping teachers and staff understand their roles. The second branch is administration where they are collecting data and planning for evaluation of the program. Finally, the third branch is case management where they are meeting with Jenison families [15 so far this year] and connecting them to health insurance, housing and food resources, and support organizations such as Ele’s Place and Gilda’s Club.

Ms Tracy says, “The JPS mission statement is “All students will grow intellectually, emotionally and socially while becoming lifelong learners”. The parent liaison program arose out of recognizing the need and desire to help families to create homes that encourage growth and learning and I was finding more and more kids coming to school — and their families who were in need of support.”

Other Ottawa County schools have already launched similar programs including Holland, Zeeland, Coopersville and Grand Haven is in the process.

“It’s been really encouraging for Mary and I when families get connected with the right resources. They’re encouraged and feel supported.”

If you would like to reach out to one of our Parent Liaisons on behalf of your family, they invite you to email them:
Angela Tracy: [Bauerwood, Sandy Hill, Rosewood, ECC, JIA, and Jenison High School]
Mary Veldink: [Pinewood, Bursley, and Jenison Junior High]

Thank you to Ms Tracy and Ms Veldink for coming alongside all families and students in Jenison and helping to ensure that all students can come to school ready to learn!

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Welcome to the Family!

This summer has witnessed a flurry of excitement surrounding the addition of several new faces to the JPS staff. Necessary in large part to fill the newly state-mandated all-day kindergarten classes as well as provide for new Spanish requirements, these teachers are ready to dive in with high expectations and goals fixed on student success. Several special education teachers and our new Jenison High School athletic director, Todd Kolster, round out the group pictured below on Orientation Day.

While we won’t spend time here going in depth with all nineteen of them, we’d like to introduce you to a handful of these extraordinary individuals who will begin shaping lives in our classrooms over the weeks and months to come.

[ Pictured from left to right above: Blake Smolen, Jenna Wiley, Dennis Kaboos, Tara Eparvier, Katelyn Kielezewski, Brittany Douglas, Rachel Eriks, Tami Scholma, Shanna Richey, Lindsay Smith, Ashlee Stansbury, Becky Chicklon, Angela Trace, Todd Kolster, Alison Bydalek, Brandon Bosch, April Windemuller, Travis Sands, Kendra Krestan. ]

1. Lindsey Smith is a graduate from Grand Valley State University with a Major in Psychology-Special Education and a Minor in Elementary Education; she also holds an endorsement in teaching students with emotional impairments. Lindsey will be teaching 1st grade at Pinewood this fall and is “very excited to meet my students and get to know their personalities and start building relationships.”

A little known fact about Lindsey is that she grew up on a dairy farm and loves anything related to Holstein cows! She and her husband will be celebrating their one year anniversary this month and have a cat named Neko. Be sure to stop in and welcome Lindsey next time you’re at Pinewood!

2. Blake Smolen is another Grand Valley Laker-turned-Wildcat! Blake has a degree in Special Education and is endorsed to teach both emotionally and cognitively impaired students. He also provides some flexibility in that he is additionally certified to instruct grades K-5. Blake comes to us from Grand Rapids Catholic Central where he spent 2011-2012 as their resource room teacher. This background makes him a great fit as the Intervention specialist at our Early Childhood Center.

Mr. Smolen is “looking forward to getting into the classroom and making a difference in my students’ academic lives!” Though he is too humble to trumpet his accomplishments on the field, a little known fact about Blake is that he played football at GVSU (and did so with excellence!). Please say hello to him if you find yourself at the ECC this fall!

3. Alison Bydalek is a GVSU graduate who spent 6 years teaching in both a cognitively impaired classroom and 3rd grade classroom in Kenowa Hills Public Schools.  She has a Masters Degree in Learning Disabilities and returns to the classroom after spending several years at home raising her four children.

Alison is” looking forward to establishing relationships with students and staff…and embraces this opportunity for making a positive impact as well as fostering a love for learning with the students I will work with.”  Mrs. Bydalek has been married for 14 years enjoys swimming, skiing, traveling and many outdoor activities with her family.  She is proud to be both a parent and teacher in our district. A warm welcome to you, Alison!

4. Shanna Richey earned her BA from Bethel College and comes to us from Shelby County Schools where she taught 3rd grade and 4th grade. She is most looking forward to “meeting my students and getting to know the people in the Jenison community” when she joins us as a 1st grade teacher at Pinewood Elementary.

A little known fact about Shanna is that she was the National Champion in college golf! (feel free to contact her for your next scramble!) She and her husband Troy will celebrate their first wedding anniversary this October. Please introduce yourself to Shanna and welcome her to Pinewood.

5. Angela Tracy is a proud graduate of Hope College and Western Michigan University and is re-joining our family after having worked at JPS from 1995-2001, and then briefly leaving to serve as a Minister of Children and Families at Fellowship Reformed Church from 2008-2012. Angela joins us as another Intervention Specialist at Bauerwood Elementary.

Angela shares, “I can’t wait to get back in the schools and start teaching and collaborating with faculty, staff, children and parents to help every child reach his and her fullest potential!  I am extremely grateful to be part of a district and building that is committed to each other and their community.”
A little known fact about Mrs. Tracy is that she lived in Germany for a year with her family when she was 10. She currently lives in Holland with her husband and three children, ages 6, 9 and 10. We’re so glad to welcome you back, Angela!