Caring Nurses of Jenison

The Jenison school nurse role derived from the daycare component of our Early Childhood Center when it opened 16 years ago. Expanding on the district’s commitment to meeting the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student; we also believe that the ECC program helps to establish a healthy foundation for families. This is the first ‘school’ experience for the majority of our students and parents. These beliefs combined with state licensing requirements paved the way for a school nurse to be part of the original ECC programming.

Since the beginning of the ECC in 2004, the program has grown exponentially. Today, we offer daycare, 13 preschool classrooms, 8 Transitional Kindergarten classes and provide services for all early childhood age kids in the Special Education program.

I’d like to introduce you to the ECC Nursing staff and acknowledge the ways they support their students as well as families around the district.


Leslie Kidd

Early Childhood Center School Nurse

We’re delighted to welcome Leslie to the Early Childhood Center as a school nurse this year. Previously, she spent 8 years as a cardiac nurse in the Meijer Heart Center of Spectrum Health and then was a District Nurse Supervisor for Wayland Union Schools for 4 years. 

Her role as a nurse at the ECC includes daily caring for our youngest students and offering procedural support to other buildings. This includes annually training district personnel in medicine administration, training secretaries, administrators and bus drivers regarding allergic response and EpiPens.

Leslie is a Jenison High School alumna and she credits the Jenison community for shaping her life in a positive way, she is excited to put her passions to work for the families of JPS. 

Her interests include hiking, traveling anywhere tropical, and owning the role for her kids’ biggest cheerleader through softball, volleyball, baseball, and basketball seasons! She and her husband Ryan have three children, all attending JPS at Bauerwood Elementary. 


Kerri Ten Brink

School Nurse and District COVID Liaison

Kerri joined Jenison Public Schools as a nurse when the Early Childhood Center building opened. It’s an honor to continue to have Kerri on staff and we’re thankful as she has taken on the additional support role of District Covid Liaison. Instrumental in developing guidelines and implementing protocol related to all aspects of the prevention and management of Covid in our schools, Kerri is staying in daily communication with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. It is her desire to serve and make a difference in the lives of everyone in our district as we navigate daily challenges together. She also serves as a medical resource for parents, maintains the AED machines and provides guidance to our administration team and faculty as we work together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our Jenison students and staff. This liaison role requires great patience and an extreme amount of flexibility as we respond to the recommended health and safety practices in alignment with the CDC. While we work hard to keep our students safe and healthy with continued face to face instruction, it is a gift to have someone who loves, and knows our district so well in this role.

COVID-19 UPDATE

I also want to extend a generous amount of gratitude to our community for adapting to a flexible mindset. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) protocols are regularly changing based on the health needs of our community and county. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and respond and adjust to these protocols as they are being provided to us.

Please visit the COVID-19 Update Center on the JPS district website for ongoing updates.

Jenison’s ECC Wraps Educational Excellence in Hugs and Smiles

Imagine:

After a harried morning of looking for shoes, fighting traffic and dodging flood zones, you turn the corner on Connie Street to drop your child off at Jenison’s Early Childhood Center. Walking through secure doors, you pass an impressive aquarium whose bright colors are matched only by charming displays of artwork dotting the halls.

Making your way past the infant rooms, you locate your child’s preschool classroom and scoop her up for a last kiss before she skips into class. Stopping at the coffee kiosk for a free cup of flavored Joe on the way out, you nod to the chef who’s returning to the kitchen with an armful of veggies from the school’s garden.

You realize that your bologna sandwich will pale in comparison to the lunch your four-year old will be eating, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the preschool rooms in Jenison's Early Childhood Center

One of the preschool rooms in Jenison’s Early Childhood Center

The scenario above is not part of a movie or a facility reserved for an elite crowd of Hollywood starlets. It is a snapshot of life at the ECC for every parent and every child who walk through the doors (*bologna sandwich optional). With room for little ones starting at 3 months and up to 5 year old pre-kindergarteners, this school is buzzing with laughter and finding innovative ways to make learning fun.

Mr. Westervelt at the coffee kiosk.

Mr. Westervelt at the coffee kiosk.

Principal Lee Westervelt beams like a proud parent as he weaves through the hallways. He knows this school is special, and notes that parents drive from as far away as Allegan County and Grand Haven to grab a coveted registration slot.

At the moment there is a waiting list for preschool at the ECC, despite incorporating the use of several portables and rooms at other Jenison Elementary Schools. Currently, 450 children are in the building every day, with another 300 in satellite locations.

We’ve been fortunate that there is a lot of stability here. We’ve proven that we hire people who have graduate-level preparedness and who stay. We really don’t experience a lot of turnover, which is great for the kids. I hire the best people out there,” said Mr. Westervelt.

iPads, technology in schools, Early Childhood Center, Jenison Public Schools

Ms. Keriann Poquette

One such teacher is Ms. Keriann Poquette who uses the latest technology to foster growth in reading. Two days a week, students use iPads to read with a reading buddy from Mrs. Ryan’s class at Bursley Elementary School.

Using Facetime, ECC kids sit and listen to an older student read to them while the iPad sends images from the book. This partnership allows older students on the other side of Jenison to practice reading and gives younger students additionally examples of fluency.

In mid-April the 5 year olds at the ECC will begin to read back to their reading buddies, practicing their newly forged skills in a tangible way.

Students view pages to their reading buddy's book via Facetime on the iPad.

Students view pages to their reading buddy’s book via Facetime on the iPad.

Aside from the gifted staff of teachers, the ECC boasts an amazing army of volunteers who come in every day to run the morning coffee kiosk, work with students, and organize the “Motor Moms” group. Motor Moms focus their attention on developing fine and gross motor skills by employing techniques used in Brain Gym and Bal-A-Vis-X. Examples of those activities include: obstacle courses, balance beams, crawling, rolling, galloping-to-marching, catching and throwing.

Motor Moms work with students each day.

Motor Moms work with students each day.

Chef Wade Borysiak preps black beans for the next day's lunch menu.

Chef Wade Borysiak preps black beans for the next day’s lunch menu.

All that galloping works up an appetite in the kids, and they’re fortunate to have GRCC Culinary Institute graduate and former Head Chef at GR’s One Trick PonyWade Borysiak, prepping fresh vegetables and healthy meals each day for the entire facility.

Aside from the community garden on the ECC grounds which provides food each spring and summer, Chef Borysiak shops locally at least every-other day for the freshest foods. On the menu that day: whole grain brown rice with mirepoix and slow roasted pork shoulder.

Mr. Westervelt is passionate about the connection between healthy eating and healthy, well-fed, attentive kids who are ready to learn. His dream is to expand the kitchen, hire a sous chef, virtually eliminate sugar and processed food from the school, and begin to partner with local farms for a larger variety of garden-fresh options.

But more than anything, Mr. Westervelt and his staff are excited about kids. They take good care of each other. They pursue excellence. They focus on what’s important.

“The great thing about my job is knowing that for many kids, being here is the best part of their day. And I love being a part of that.”