There’s Nothing Quite Like 6th Grade Camp!

If you grew up as a JPS student, chances are good that you attended 6th grade camp! For at least the past eighteen years, each school in the district has set aside 4 days each year for the 6th grade class to spend at a camp in the area.

The students take part in various activities such as ropes courses, horseback riding, biking, archery, team-building exercises, campfires, and group games like capture the flag and glow dodge ball. They also spend time with the students in their cabins to continue to build and develop peer relationships.

6th grade teacher, Heather Chatfield, is the Camp Director for Bauerwood and says the Tuesday to Friday camp experience at Grace Adventures is an important experience for the students to learn new skills, unplug, and enjoy being together. Of course, the students can’t go alone so each school depends on volunteers. Bauerwood typically takes 9 – 10 teachers from the building plus 6 – 12 junior counselors who are willing and enthusiastic high school students eager to make camp amazing for every student, just like it was for them.

In order to make camp a meaningful experience for these rising junior high students they are encouraged to expand their comfort zones and be brave. “We focus on this time being a team building experience. We also look at it as a way to get students to challenge themselves to do something new.” When students are encouraged by their peers and feel safe to try new things, they feel changed and teachers see an improvement in their demeanor and self-image. “We have so many kids that come back from camp feeling more confident and successful.”

Other wonderful benefits of camp is the opportunity for students to put down their devices, engage with their friends, and be challenged in new ways. “6th grade camp is a time for kids to “unplug” from today’s technology that is readily available. They are able to be physically active for four days. They have to communicate and push themselves more than ever before. The teachers love the experience because we get to know our students even better during this week at camp!”

Thank you to all of the teachers and high school students who attend camp and make it amazing for our 6th graders! We know that these experiences are helping to shape them into strong, confident, junior high students!

6th Graders Keep Kindergartners Safe!

When you’re a Kindergartner, it can be intimidating to navigate the big, busy halls at school! But fear not, young ones! The 6th grade safeties are here!

At each Jenison elementary school, there are a dedicated group of 6th graders who fulfill a variety of protective roles for our Kindergartners. Kevin Gort, 6th grade teacher at Bauerwood and Leader of the Safeties says, “The roles range from helping Kindergartners get to their correct buses to standing out at the crosswalk in freezing cold temperatures waiting for the crossing guard to stop traffic on Bauer Road so the kids can cross safely.”

There is a process to becoming a safety and it begins in 5th grade with a presentation by current safeties sharing what they like and don’t like about the position, qualities you need to succeed at being a safety and why they chose to fulfill this role. If a 5th grader is interested they complete an application and 5th grade teachers are given a chance to weigh in as well, with remarks such as “turns homework in on time”, “has integrity”, “is kind of others”, and “respects authority”.  Even specials teachers are given the opportunity to voice their opinion on applicants because they get to know students in a unique environment, over multiple years. Once the roster is selected, training begins.

Mr Gort looks for three things in a potential safety: integrity, empathy, and willingness to problem solve. These three qualities show that a safety can be trusted to act appropriately, even when an adult may not be present, which is a major piece of responsibility for a safety, especially when it comes to managing disagreements between other students. “There is not a lot of glory or awards associated with being a safety, but many student safeties will tell you that the reward is in those Kindergartners’ hugs and smiles that are given or in the few thank you’s from parents and/or staff members that are said to a safety as they hold the door open. ”

If you think the Kindergartner doesn’t know or appreciate their safety, Mr Gort says, think again. “I am always amazed at the bonds the safeties make with the little ones they take care of.  I do not think these safeties know how important they are and how their Kindergartners look forward to seeing them everyday. One story in regards to how impressionable a safety is to a Kindergartner happened at 6th grade camp.  I was with a Junior Counselor, who is in high school, and a 6th grade student walked right up to him and said “you were my safety when I was in Kindergarten.” Both the high school student and the 6th grade student began talking about what bus they transported to, the other students in the line, etc.  I was amazed that this memory stuck with this student for so many years. ”

Because the qualities of a good safety [problem solving, integrity, and empathy] are valuable, lifelong skills, the role of a safety carries on well past 6th grade. “When students move on with life after being a safety my hope is that they find other ways to serve in this world.  Helping others without having to be recognized or rewarded is a quality that seems to be missing these days.  Having a selfless servant heart is something to strive for everyday and a great place to start is finding a way to help another person.”

“If I could challenge the Jenison community…no matter what building you live by or whether your kids attend school, it would be absolutely awesome if you would thank a safety for faithfully serving their school.  You would make a safety’s day if you went out of your way just to say thank you.

Thank you Mr. Gort! We’ll start the “thank you’s” right here: THANK YOU 6th grade safeties across the district! Our schools and our youngest elementary students are better and safer because of you! [Now, entire JPS community, it’s your turn to tell a safety “thank you”!]

Dads and Daughters Take a Spin Around the Dance Floor!

Last weekend, the gym at Bauerwood was transformed into a tropical luau for the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance! This year, 280 girls and the men in their lives that serve as fathers (grandparents, uncles, cousins, brothers, friends – anyone!) danced, took selfies, drank fruity umbrella-adorned punch, and had an amazing time!

Last year, committee co-leader, Jean Houghton, talked to other moms about the possibility of bringing the dance to Bauerwood after experiencing it at Bursley before their family moved. It took this dedicated group to plan, organize, decorate, and now, in its second year, it’s the second highest fundraiser for the school! This year, the dance generated about $1000 to school expenses.

There was a DJ spinning the tunes and he also led a limbo contest, and, according to Jean, the dance floor was filled the entire night. “The girls are so excited to be there, they have big smiles, and are happy to be there with their dads.” The girls received a Hawaiian lei when they arrive and a carnation when they leave to cap off their “wow” experience.

This year, the committee was able to provide limited sponsorship to families that needed financial assistance but they plan to increase their capability in this area for next year. “No student should be left out because things are tight at home”. [So if you’re wondering about next year, make sure you talk to your child’s teacher when the time comes around!]

Jean feels that this type of event is important for families because it “shines a spotlight on the girls’ relationship with their father figure. They are encouraged to feel beautiful, they feel important on that day, it gives them confidence, and makes a special moment to share with each other.” She added that it’s encouraging to hear from teachers and other parents how excited their daughters are before and after the dance. “They can’t stop talking about it!”

This is clearly a special treat for our daughters and their dads and we are thankful that parents take this time to make special memories with their kids! [Moms! Be watching for Mother – Son Bowling at your school!]

Thank you to the dance committee: Alyssa Fennema, Candace Bennett, Jean Houghton, Liz Opatic, Sara Reilly, and Missy Brandt!

Parents make all the difference and this event is so much more than a fundraiser! Thank you to all the dads and daughters who brightened the gyms around Jenison with your beautiful smiles and amazing dance moves!

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!

miii2486

miii2498

miii2506

miii2488

miii2568

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

miii9098

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!

miii0213

miii0151

miii0139

miii0104

miii0118

miii0072

miii0039

miii0065

miii0040

miii0014

miii0110

miii0161

miii0208

miii0098

miii0259

#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.

ct3svpkw8aaapci

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!

csvp4lnwaaaukrr

 

*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!

annaflood


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. ”

huizenga

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. “

ehlich

 

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.”

morley
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.”

nichols

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!!!”
annasiegel

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!”
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-59-08-am

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.”

cristinasalinas

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.

* * *

Meanwhile, Ella was looking for Bella everywhere, but she could not find her.  She was very scared.
* * *

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.