The Grand Rapids Griffins are Serenaded by the Bobcat Choir!

miii2587The Bobcat Choir from Bauerwood cannot simply be contained by the borders of Jenison! Last week they traveled to VanAndel Arena to serenade the Grand Rapids Griffins, their opponents, the Iowa Wild and the hometown crowd with the National Anthem. They were supported by 300 Bauerwood family members who came to cheer on the choir and the Griffs!

miii2555Bauerwood music director, Diane Schrems, says that fifteen years ago the Bobcat Choir started signing the National Anthem at the Whitecaps games and then reached out to the Griffins as well. “Most recently Grand Valley contacted me to see if I would bring the Bobcat Choir to a Grand Valley Women’s basketball game.  It’s wonderful to get out into the community and perform for everyone.”

miii2559Rehearsals for the big performance have been taking place weekly after school on Thursday’s and the choir has watched post-game tape and agree they did a great job. Of course, they also got to stay for the game and had a wonderful time cheering with their family and friends.

“The kids gain a sense of school pride when we go out into the community and represent Bauerwood and Jenison Public Schools.  It’s important to share your talents with others in a meaningful way like singing our country’s national anthem.  Being a member of  Bobcat Choir builds strong character and commitment in our kids.  When we sing together we build a bond through the music that sounds and feels great.”

Even though the Griffs couldn’t pull of a win that night (they lost 1-2), the Bobcat Choir certainly won for their talent, courage and showmanship! Jenison is proud of you! Go Wildcats!

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Bus Driver is Humble Hero: A Story to be Thankful For

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Joey, Miss Kristin + Ethan

Halloween is never a typical day on a bus to begin with but for one bus driver and her students, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

It was early on in Kristin Bredeweg’s usual Friday afternoon bus drop off routine when she was approached by fifth grader, Joey Bonacci, who calmly reported that his friend, Ethan Dahl, was choking and he couldn’t breathe.

Leaving her red lights on, Kristin ran to the back and saw that Ethan was indeed, unable to breathe. She grabbed him into the aisle, wrapped her arms around him and performed the Heimlich maneuver.  Nothing happened. Ethan still wasn’t breathing. Kristin lost her mom earlier this year and in a brief moment of desperation she asked her mom for help and gave Ethan one more push. Air rushed into his lungs and he fell back in her arms. He was going to be ok.

miii9093Ethan says that he had been enjoying a hard candy before getting on the bus and he thinks a shard of it was what got caught in his throat. Joey knew he was choking, rather than goofing around, because Ethan had been laughing and all of a sudden, he wasn’t making any noise. Ethan and Joey have been friends since third grade and, along with their friend, Isaac England, they are always together on the bus and acknowledge they are good friends.

Kristin radioed into the Transportation office letting them know that Ethan was ok but there had been a medical emergency and asked them to please contact his mom. She told Ethan she wouldn’t leave until he waved at her from the front window before she shakily pulled away.

Kristin had never performed the Heimlich Maneuver and wasn’t sure she was even doing it correctly but she did what she says, any of the JPS bus driver would’ve done. “You love them like they’re your own kids. They’re not just your bus kids. When they’re in my care, they’re my kids. I just did what his mom would’ve done.” 

“I’m driving that bus, not because it’s a job, but because I love my job. I stay on my route because I know my families, because it’s relationships built in the community. There’s communication and relationships built between [yourself] and the families you drive for that make it worth sitting in the seat. They know I love their kids like my own.”

Kristin and Joey, there aren’t enough “thank you’s” and hugs to express how grateful we are for you and your quick and selfless reactions. Ethan, we are so very thankful that you are ok and we trust that you’ll avoid hard candy from now on!

Bauerwood Goes Boo!

miii0192This Halloween, once again, our Jenison schools were filled to the brim with examples of creativity, personality and fun! The teachers and students at Bauerwood got to strut their stuff for parents and family members on their annual parade and celebrate with classroom parties.

Kylo Ren was a popular guest as were the princesses of Frozen. Mario and Luigi showed up and so did a few Transformers and other super heroes. Of course, a few scary characters were there too but thankfully, we had enough police officers, fire fighters and Ghostbusters to keep the peace!

Enjoy the many costumes and personalities of our Bauerwood kids and teachers! Thank you to everyone who contributed treats, party assistance and, of course, our audience members!

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#JPSReads!

1448499790-4841895-james_giant_peach_ticketsWhen Junior High theatre director, Holly Florian, chose James and the Giant Peach for this year’s winter performance fifth grade teachers, Michelle U’Ren knew that she wanted to read the classic story aloud to her class. She knew it would help them appreciate the show even more to be familiar with the story.

But it didn’t stay specific to Ms U’Ren’s class! It didn’t take long before a district-wide project was born! Other teachers were interested in reading the story to their classes as well and and soon, Holly, Michelle, and Jan Staley, media specialist, were organizing the first ever district-wide read aloud, which came to be known as JPS Reads!

All of the teachers are encouraged by the response so far. “The feedback from teachers, students, and parents has been really positive.  Perhaps the most exciting part is hearing the connections being made at home!  There are many stories of families discussing James and the Giant Peach during dinner and younger kids begging older siblings to tell them what happens next in the story.

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Story brainstorming in Mary Veldink’s 3rd grade Pinewood classroom

When Ms Florian was considering scripts for the junior high performance she was excited about the visual and production challenges posed by James and the Giant Peach. “[It] stood out to me right away as being a fantastic option – the story is so wonderful, and the stage version has many featured roles, which gives lots of students a chance to show off their performing skills. It will also be a technical challenge! Figuring out how to create a giant peach that rolls off the cliffs of Dover and into the Atlantic ocean is going to be a creative challenge for the entire production team.”

Not all teachers had a copy of the book but thanks to a grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation, those teachers were provided a copy. Even our Spanish Immersion classrooms are reading the story in Spanish! In order to empower teachers, weekly emails are sent to participants offering suggestions for activities and ways to connect with other teachers in the project.  Each individual teacher can choose which activities they would like to implement within their own classroom. Lori Barr, Pinewood 6th grade teacher, is engaging students’ writing skills by having them write blog posts with their thoughts and questions. Check out their Letters to Ms Florian here

If you have ever wondered if reading at home matters, it does! “Statistics have shown that a powerful predictor of reading success is having a parent who personally reads aloud to their child 5–7 days a week. Our community read aloud, JPS Reads, will hopefully ignite the joy of reading and the community bond it builds within the classroom family…the hope is that this will then be talked about and become part of our individual family habits also.”

Congratulations to all the teachers, students and families who participated in the first JPS Read Aloud! We can’t wait for the play this January!

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*Photo courtesy of goldstar.com

Say “Hi” to New Teachers!

This year we welcomed 23 new staff members to the Jenison family! Here you can meet some of them and feel free to say “hi” in person when you cross paths!

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Anna Flood  |  Burlsey, 6th Grade

“I grew up in the area and have always heard amazing things about Jenison. As a new teacher to the district, I have noticed the strong community and support that surrounds education. I am excited to grow with my group of 6th grade students, and watch them use their abilities to be successful.”

 

mcelweeAlexa McElwee  |  Bursley Interventionist
“I have grown up in this community.  Living in Hudsonville, attending GVSU and now working in Jenison, I have seen this community from so many sides.  From being a child, to a student, and now as a educator.  This community stands behind you and support you in every way.  When I graduated the one thing I knew I wanted in the school I worked for was a huge community involvement.  When I accepted my position in Jenison, I knew I was going more than a community, I was joining a family.  Jenison is such an amazing school district who wants the best for the students and their families.

On the first day of school I was feeling like most students do when they walk in the door, nervous, anxious and excited.  I definitely had first day jitters.  I was nervous for joining a new team and for meeting new students who have never seen me before.  By the end of they day I was getting high fives and lots of hugs from all the Kindergartners as they walked by my room to head to the bus.  To see their faces light up each morning when they see me in the hall or working with them makes me so excited to see the relationships that are being formed.  This is going to be a great year.”

vandebergJosh VandeBerg  |  Sandy Hill, 4th Grade

“My family and I are very excited to return to the area!  My wife Amanda and I are from the area, but moved to Florida 9 years ago. We have 4 children Ben (10), Abigail (9), Hannah (6), and Levi (3).  All of our extended family lives in the area and my children are thrilled to live by their cousins.

I am a big believer of living in the community that I teach in.  Jenison is an amazing place to live and raise a family.  The schools are top-notch and we can’t imagine a better place to be. I am so excited for this school year because everyone that I work with truly cares about each other.  The district leaders, the team at Sandy Hill, and everyone I meet throughout the district is amazing. Jenison has a lot to offer its students.  I am currently involved in the robotic’s program and we have a blast using what we’ve learned in the classroom to solve a problem.

willieMaura Willie  |  Elementary Music

“I was drawn to JPS because of their excellence in music. I love how the district and community supports the arts in their schools. So far, I’m most excited for the year because of all of the collaboration I’ve seen. Everyone I’ve come into contact with has been eager to help each other and work together. ”

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Jenny Huizenga  |  High School Math
“I was drawn to JPS because my children attend JPS and I love the schools and the community.  I am excited to be teaching in the community where I live.  The staff and students are amazing at Jenison and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and get involved. “

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Bridget Ehlich  |  Bursley Elementary, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“I was drawn to JPS by the reputation it has in the Greater Grand Rapids area as forward educators. I am excited about the year because I have already felt welcomed by the community and can tell that this is a good place to be as an educator.”

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Dustin Morley  |  Junior High ELA
“I first heard about Jenison Public Schools while I attended Grand Valley State University ten years ago and heard nothing but good things about the district and community ever since. After moving from the Detroit area to West Michigan I was very excited when a long-term substitute position opened at Jenison Junior High. The building and district felt like home for me from the first interview for that position.  After being a long-term substitute for a year and a half, I couldn’t be happier to now be a full time teacher at Jenison Junior High School. I’m particularly looking forward to getting more involved with the school and community this year.”

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Rachel Nichols  |  ECC Special Education

“I was looking for a district that wanted to everything possible to benefit their students. I talked to some friends and they all were so pleased with Jenison and what they are doing.  So far it has been great everyone has been so friendly and welcoming it has been an amazing start to 2016/2017 school year and I am excited to continue!!!”
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Anna Siegel  |  Pinewood + Sandy Hill Special Education

“What drew me to JPS is the success of the district and the sense of community. I am in two different elementary buildings throughout the day this year, and so I am excited to interact with many different staff and students this year!”
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Kristen Dantonio  |  Pinewood, 5th Grade

“I was drawn to Jenison because I was told that it was a district that cared about people. It is a district that puts relationships first and I knew that I wanted to be part of that. I am most excited to get to know my students and coworkers at Pinewood. It has been a great year so far and I am excited to see how those relationships will grow.”

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Christina Salinas  |  Rosewood, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“The wonderful Jenison community and Spanish Immersion program drew me to JPS.  This year I am excited to see students continue to grow in their literacy skills in Spanish and English.  I am also excited to work with the supportive teachers and staff at Rosewood Elementary. I have learned so much from them already. Their dedication and passion for teaching is contagious!”

We’re so thankful for all of our teachers and all that they do for our students and families! Thank you to the new teachers for bringing your talents and passion to Jenison!

Summer Series: Student Writing Samples [2nd grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

The Mystery Dog   

by: Julia Smith

Ella loved practicing for the school talent show with her dog, Bella.  Bella could jump over a three foot tall human.  That human was Emma, Ella’s sister.  Bella was the most talented dog or human in the whole school.

One Monday Ella, Emma, and Bella were out practicing for the talent show when her mom said, “Time to come inside for lunch.”

“Coming,” Ella said.

She put Bella outside on her chain and went inside for lunch.  When there were no people in sight, not even any neighbors, someone came and took Bella.  Bella tried to get away by biting that person but the criminal didn’t put Bella down.  Whoever took her, brought her to a basement.  Bella was smart, so she started to come up with a plan.

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Meanwhile, Ella was looking for Bella everywhere, but she could not find her.  She was very scared.
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Bella looked at the person who had taken her and thought “I recognize that face.”  When she got a closer look she realized, “It’s George.”  It was time to put her plan into action.  Bella barked, barked, and barked as loud as she could.  George’s mom quickly ran downstairs to investigate the noises coming from the basement.

She saw Bella and shouted, “George Mark Shield, you return that dog right this minute.  You are grounded!”

George had to go to Ella’s house and explain that he took Bella.  He gave her back to the excited Ella.  Later Ella and Bella won the school talent show!

The author, Juila Smith, is a rising third grader at Bauerwood Elementary.  She is 8 years old.  She has 2 sisters, 2 wonderful parents, and a dog named Rudy.  She enjoys doing crafts, reading, swimming, and writing. Her sample was selected by her 2nd grade teacher, Ms Sabrina Kind.

Summer Series: Student Writing Samples [1st grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

 My Own New’s
By Connor Merritt
[Please note: all writing is as Connor originally penned it. No edits have been made. Limited illustrations by the author.]

Today a cran escaped from the cran-box. The gards could not cech black cran. Who will cech black cran?

CaptureChapter 2 The Big Fall
Black cran ran a long time! Then he fell off a cliff! It was a very big fall!

Chapter 3 Mr. Visser
When the cran landid he saw Mr. Visser! The Mr. Visser rescyud black cran. Blak cran got arrested.

Chapter 4 A Long Life
Black cran spent 7 months there. He was very bord. He had terrible night mares. What a long life!

Chapter 5 Fire Cran
After 2 days in jail, the wall was browk! Fire cran did it! Black cran got out of jail!

Capture2Chapter 6 Fire Cran Move’s
Fire cran got to cold! He had to go away. He went into a vockano. He left on Monday.

Chapter 7 Under Water
Black cran went for a swim. He went under water! He swam back to land! It was so much fun!

Chapter 8 Vidio Games
Black cran really wanted to play video games! But he could not play video games! He was sad!

Chapter 9 Back in Time
Black cram found a time machine! He went back in time! To be continued on Chapter 10. By!

Capture3Chapter 10 No More Black Cran
Black cran zaped himself too far in time.So nobody ever sall black cran again! Every one was very sad!

Chapter 11 Lonely
After 3 days with out black cran all the crans were very lonely! Every one had nothing to do!

Chapter 12 The Bad Ending
After 73 years and 9 months and 22 day’s, nobody could do enything! It was a bad ending!

The End

Connor is a rising 2nd grader at Bauerwood Elementary and his story was selected by his 1st grade teacher, Mr Josh Visser.

High School Girls Champion STEM for Elementary Students!

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Peyton Benac with a Pinewood STEM student!

In the fall of 2014 Chemistry teacher Alice Putti had good reason to be impressed. She had been approached by two of her former students, sophomores at the time, who wanted to start a club for high school girls to visit Jenison Elementary schools and do STEM lessons. [STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]

Peyton Benac and Alex Stockholm wanted to take their interest and passion in STEM education to younger girls but they knew they’d need faculty support and financial assistance to do it. But their goal to inspire and encourage students who like the STEM subjects motivated them to move forward and thanks to a grant from the Jenison Education Foundation they were able to launch their group!

They began meeting with other interested high school girls to discuss possible lessons and experiments and getting their hands dirty as they made prototypes. “We tried to get activities from all the STEM fields like math puzzles and an engineering challenge.” says Peyton.  The group visited each elementary school once this fall and 4 – 6 high school students lead the groups of younger students which has varied from 10 – 30 girls!  When one young student was asked her favorite part of STEM she quickly replied “math” but after doing an experiment with conductive play-doh she said, “I like science too.”

Peyton has been involved with Junior High and High School Science Olympiad and she would like to pursue a career in science education. Speaking of her experience on the Science Olympiad team, “I remember being a seventh grade girl and wishing there were role models. The problem isn’t that girls are less interested or less talented but they try it once and it’s weird, none of their friends are there, it’s uncomfortable, there’s no role models. So we wanted to create a program that would open that door for them and make it seem a little less scary.”

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Sandy Hill Girls in STEM!

In preparation for their presentations the team watched “a lot of TED Talks from women who have succeeded in STEM fields talking about what they went through when they were younger. We read parts of “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg talking about finding success in male dominated fields  and I think that gave us the background to want to do this with the elementary girls. We thought that we could provide that role model and tell them that we passionately love STEM and we think you should too…”  Ultimately, the group would love to see more female students stick it out in Science Olympiad, Robotics , AP Computer Science, AP Calculus or AP Stats.

Mrs Putti says that “from the beginning I was incredibly impressed when they came to me with this idea, to have the vision and goals they had and I thought, not only do I want to be supportive of you because you’re my students, but your goals are incredibly mature goals.”  In Jenison High School there are “more women taking life science classes such as Earth science and biology rather than physics or chemistry. There are less women in math and computer science than there are in sciences.”  With the new focus on STEM education teachers are hopeful that these numbers will change.  “I think the fact that they are being introduced to it early that is important. When we talk to girls at our STEM club meetings there are a lot of them that are excited about STEM but I would guess that at that level  those kids would have been excited about those subjects anyway. Our goal is to keep them excited.”

Peyton wants to encourage parents and other adults invested in girls’ lives to be thoughtful in how they are encouraged. “I think that everyone should be conscious of the passion that these young girls have for STEM and especially if they have young daughters to see that as kind of the best thing.”

If you’d like to encourage an elementary girl to attend the next STEM meeting please check out this flyer for the details and where to sign up!

Or if you’d like to find out how you can contribute to continuing the work of the Girls STEM Club in Jenison next year please contact Alice Putti:  aputti@jpsonline.org for information on their forthcoming Go Fund Me account!

Thank you to Alex, Peyton and Mrs Putti for being the role models our young girls need! We are so grateful that you pursued your goals and are investing in our future STEM leaders!

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Pinewood Girls try to crack the code with a little encouragement from their high school mentor!

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Rosewood Girls in STEM hard at work!

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Pinewood girls conquer the engineering challenge!

“Your Change Can Change Hunger” Impacts the Community this Thanksgiving

For the past fifteen years, Jenison Public Schools have been partnering with Dégagé Ministries by sponsoring the “Your Change Can Change Hunger” drive in buildings throughout the district.

And for each of those fifteen years, students like the ones pictured above have arrived to school with their pockets stuffed with pennies and quarters; they’ve pulled ziplock bags from their backpacks and cheerfully dumped their nickels into the collection bin.

Those coins impact a lot of lives when you consider that Dégagé’s food pantry is not bound by supermarket prices when helping families. Rather than paying an average of $2 for a pound of food as we might do at our local grocery store, they are able to partner with Feeding America and purchase food for just 16¢ a pound! To add to the savings, Dégagé is able to acquire produce through Feeding America for 6¢ a pound!

After a week of dedicated collections, we are pleased to announce that the students at Bauerwood (featured in our photos), Bursley, Rosewood, and Pinewood Elementary Schools contributed over $5, 415, putting Jenison’s fifteen-year total at $108,000!

Because of  the buying power that Feeding America provides, this year’s donations alone will extend a helping hand to over 100 families!

Jenison Public Schools, Your Change Can Change Hunger, Bauerwood Elementary Schools, Degage Ministries

Even in a difficult economy with so many of our own local families struggling under the weight of mounting bills and joblessness, Jenison families continue to show compassion for those who feel hopeless; they continue to offer up what they can so their neighbors’ burden can be eased.

Project coordinator, Sue Hodson, says she “..feels truly blessed and privileged to be a part of this process. I’m excited to think that these students (who are our future leaders) are learning about and effectively making a difference to change hunger for many in the Heartside neighborhood of GR.”

If you were one of the families who scrounged for dimes in your seat cushions or returned pop cans so that you could contribute to this cause, thank you.

It is indeed a joy to demonstrate love in such a tangible way during the holidays.

What do you most enjoy about giving to others? How are you demonstrating generosity this Thanksgiving?

JPS, Bauerwood, Fine Arts Night

Bauerwood Fine Arts Night

As the rest of our community was winding down in anticipation of Spring Break, Principal Crystal Morse was swinging wide the doors to Bauerwood Elementary for the 4th Annual Fine Arts Night.

Organized under the creative eyes of art teacher Ms. Ashley Hankamp, and music instructor Ms. Diane Schrems, the evening spotlighted the wonderful progress that Bauerwood Elementary students are making in the Fine Arts.

Students spent weeks learning to play instruments such as the bells and triangles, mastering several songs, and even learning movement pieces to perform. Titled, “Carnival of the Animals,” songs featured ranged from “Cuckoo, Cuckoo” to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Art Teacher Ashley Hankamp

Thanks to the dedication and long hours of Ms. Hankamp and several parent volunteers, Bauerwood’s hallways were transformed from lockers and linoleum to a virtual art gallery. Dozens of paintings and cityscapes lined the walls of the school with the professional appearance of a top-notch exhibition room.

At 1 pm all these art pieces were in four huge pallet boxes–parent volunteers made it happen! “Ms. Hankamp said. “There’s no way I could have done it alone!”

With the help of Kids Art Fairs, parents also had the opportunity to purchase their children’s framed creations and send a portion of the proceeds back to the art department.

Bauerwood Principal Crystal Morse

Mrs. Morse raved about the success of the night–not only were hundreds of parents in attendance (so many so that the grades had to attend in shifts!)but she was thrilled with the teamwork she saw in her staff. She explained that every person in the building gladly changed their schedules and teaching plans in order to accommodate multiple rehearsals and preparations that had to be made.

Furthermore, Mrs. Morse noted that even classroom teachers lent a hand to help students memorize new songs by playing the music during work time. “It wasn’t not out of the ordinary to walk down the halls and hear kids singing while they were working in their classrooms!”

Of all the work that went into making the Fine Arts Night a hit, it was that teamwork that made Mrs. Morse most proud.

“Diane is amazing and what Ashley can help our students produce is amazing. It’s a complete team effort!”

Congratulations to the Bauerwood staff for an amazing night celebrating the arts! You make us proud.