Connection through COVID-19 Closure

Last August, while we were preparing to head back to the classroom, the Jenison Public Schools administration, teachers and staff rallied around a simple statement.

First, we committed to shift our thought process from understanding “What am I doing?” to “Why am I doing it?” Knowing our purpose and pursuing it relentlessly would magnify the impact on our students. STAFFPOSTER

To ‘Be Relentless’ means that we are doing everything we can to support our students, providing them love that is reminiscent of a family, interacting with them in a purposeful way and providing a constant source of inspiration. Who knew that we would tap into this well of Relentlessness in a whole new way, just months down the road.

While education and connection is looking very different these days, that hasn’t stopped our teachers and staff from establishing new patterns, routines and embracing technology to keep the connection with their students as strong as possible.

The COVID-19 closure has dealt us all a pretty major life interruption, but for all of us at Jenison Public Schools, our WHY has not changed.  And if these weeks have reminded of us of anything – it’s that our teachers will go above and beyond for their students. Together, we are Jenison. Together, we will get through this!

There are countless examples of JPS teachers going above and beyond – here are some!

 


El Puente Art teacher, Rachael Ball Kunnen took to the school’s Facebook page to connect with and challenge her students to put down the devices and bring some color into their days! Many students enjoyed responding to her “Things Found” color wheel challenge.

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Rosewood Elementary First Grade teacher, Kelly Osterink began reading Charlotte’s Web to her class not long before the extended school closure went into effect. Ms. Osterink was sad to not be able to share the rest of the book with her students for awhile, so she began recording herself reading to them via YouTube. By sharing a chapter or two a day, she will help them experience the book and give them something to look forward to during their days at home! 

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Rosewood Elementary Principal, Luke Verbeek loves to get to know all the kids in his school and gives a personal birthday card to each student on their birthday. He is not about to let this school closure change that! This week, Mr. Verbeek sent a video message to (newly) 7 year old, Ethan Pastars. Ethan was ecstatic to receive his video birthday wish; he sent Mr. Verbeek a thank you message and introduced his 2 silver dollar fish and African Clawed Frog named, Kiki.

Rosewood teachers also plan to make use of some good old fashioned connection methods and will be sending letters and birthday cards to students while they are away from school. Who doesn’t love fun mail!?

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Many teachers are tapping into additional technology tools to keep the connection strong. Fourth grade teachers at Bauerwood have been hosting online gatherings through Zoom. Mrs. Martin and Ms. Buus’ classes have met up through Zoom to join together for a time of fun with learning quiz-game, Kahoot.  (Below) Craig Westra started his 4th grade class hang out last Saturday by playing ‘Simon Says’. 

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ECC preschool teacher, Missy Brandt, and her assistant teacher Ronnie Madden began hosting Zoom class meetings with their preschool class this week. They had a great turnout and hope to continue with more meetings in the coming weeks. Ms. Brandt also connects with her students through their Class Dojo and private Facebook pages.

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Before school dismissed for the extended break, Marie Huistra encouraged her class of preschoolers to think of others. The Early Childhood Center students made cards of well-wishes for homebound residents in our community. 

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*COMMUNITY FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION*

Food distribution is available at the following locations and times:

Hudsonville: Grace Community Church – 3500 New Holland Street
Tuesday & Thursday, 4 – 7 pm
Fair Haven Church – 2900 Baldwin Street, DOOR E
Friday, 10am – 12pm and 6 – 8pm
Grandville: Fellowship CRC – 4375 Ivanrest Avenue SW
Monday & Thursday, 9 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 pm
Jenison: Sunrise Ministries, 7754 28th Avenue
Monday & Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm

JPS School Locations: Monday & Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon Street, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin Street, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Road, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Road, Jenison

Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding the school location distribution program.

 

Jenison Food Service Continues to Serve

As the mandated school closure was announced one week ago, we were all thrust into unprecedented times. Immediately, the Jenison Public Schools administration team, teachers and staff brainstormed plans to make sure our local families would be cared for during this time. A major concern was making sure that daily meals would not become an obstacle.

On a typical school day, Mary Darnton, Director of Food Service and her team in the Jenison Food Service department will serve around 130 breakfasts and nearly 2,000 lunches. At the onset of the schools being closed in response to COVID-19, Mary and the team were faced with a few challenges that needed to be solved quickly.

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Jenison Public Schools food service meals are proudly prepared on site in each school building with about 90% of the meal items served hot and fresh. As they planned to host socially-distanced distribution sites; it was imperative that the meals served during the closure were 100% cold items.

The meals served still adhere to the USDA outlined meal pattern that includes a prescribed combination of whole grains, proteins (for lunches), fruit or vegetable (both for lunches) and milk. The month’s scheduled menu changed overnight and creative problem solving kicked in. The food safety and sanitation approved staff is now lovingly preparing the meals ahead of time at the Central Kitchen and using perishable items as soon as possible. They are working with other partners in the community to donate what might not be able to be used in time, and food orders continue to trickle in from approved commercial suppliers.

foodhandout-1foodhandout-9As the distributions began this week, the sites have remained calm with much appreciation expressed from the families. We’re off to a great start and anticipate the demand to increase in the coming days. I’m so grateful for Mary and the entire Jenison Food Service Department for their quick thinking and eager attitudes as they put this program into place so quickly . 


Jenison Public Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for children in need during the statewide school closure. Packaged breakfast and lunch is being made available through our food service program to any child ages 0-18 (or up to age 26 with special needs). The details are as follows:

FREE BREAKFAST & LUNCH

Friday, March 20 and Beginning Monday, March 23, families may pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays. This encourages less travel, minimizes social contact and allows a pick up of free meals to cover multiple days.

Time:  11:00am-12:30pm

Locations:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison

  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison

  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison

  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison

As many JPS students employ school of choice; the Jenison buildings may not be the closest to their home location. This is a statewide program, with no proof of enrollment required. Families may visit any distribution site in any school district. Anyone is welcome to drive up or walk to any site and may pick up meals for the number of children who are at home.


For families who are in need of food and can’t get to any of these four locations, please email me at ttenbrin@jpsonline.org and we will get food delivered directly to your homes. Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding this distribution program.

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