Summer Series: Student Writing Sample [8th grade, JIA]


This 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!

Egg Can’s and the candy within
By Annabel Owen

The project or well service that I did was help with sorting cans at my church. This service is at the church to help the poor still have a good holiday. I worked with other kids my age that came to help out. My mother and sisters also helped out while they were there. Serving for the greater good can make others happy and be mentally good for your heart.

In truth the service project helped the more poor side of the community that we live in. The service project I did was described as sorting cans, although it was really for making Easter baskets for the children whose parents couldn’t afford an Easter basket. Now the children who will get them will have a wonderful Easter with candy and smiles. It not only affects the children though, the parents of these children get the best gifts which are the smiles on their Childs face. Happiness can be brought to those with little with just one gift.

This has affected me a lot, doing things for others just makes your heart glow. I’ve started to notice the small actions that people do and how it goes around affecting everyone. Just like hiccups, smiles are contagious. I’ve found what I really love and what’s most important to me through this experience. It may seem that serving and helping is hard work and not worth the effort, but in some respects there is something to gain.

Every little action we do effects something which also affects something and this process continues on forever. Everything effects everything is how I put it. The book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens says that each person has a mental bank account and what you say either is deposit or a withdraw. In the end of it all if everyone helps here and there in this world, there would be a big difference. When people work together to change the world, they change the hearts of the people in the world.

When looking back I find it hard to believe that what I was doing was a service project. Sure at the end when we were putting socks in baggies was strange, but it was as though joyfulness had spread its wings. I wonder if the children who received the Easter baskets had as much fun as I imagined they did. Joy will known to the children and my heart is also filled with joy. It begs the question though; does everyone have such joy in helping others?

Annabel Owen is a rising 9th grader in the Jenison International Academy. Her piece was submitted by her 8th grade mentor teacher as part of an assignment studying “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and a corresponding service project. 

Jenison Welcomes Chinese Teacher Team to Michigan

Last week, a team of five Chinese teachers were welcomed in grand, white Michigan winter style, to the halls and classrooms of Sandy Hill and Bauerwood Elementary Schools. For eight days, these teachers were invited to participate fully in the learning opportunities that Jenison Public School students enjoy each day they walk through our doors.

Jenison Public Schools, Chinese teachers, JIA

In cooperation with JIA Director Rebekah Redmer, Bauerwood Principal Crystal Morse, and a team of others, this group of eager professionals observed and taught Jenison students in preparation for a possible partnership between their Beijing school and ours.

“We’re exposing our students to new cultures, giving them a greater global perspective and increasing their understanding of diversity. The kids have been so conscientious while our guests have been here. We’ve seen a greater amount of citizenship because they know that they’re not just representing JPS, but the United States of America! They’re demonstrating a lot of respect for our Chinese friends…it’s been wonderful to see,” said Mrs. Redmer.

Mrs. Redmer first met these Chinese teachers last June when she, Superintendent TenBrink, and a handful of others first traveled overseas. This initial visit was followed by a second trip later in the summer which gave a team of JPS teachers the opportunity to lesson plan, teach, and interact with Chinese students in their environment.

Jenison Public Schools, Chinese teachers, JIA

Bauerwood kids learning taekwondo in gym.

Jenison Public Schools, Chinese teachers, JIA

Mrs. Morse recalls a very different learning atmosphere in the Chinese schools than what our children experience:

“In China the teachers do not collaborate or work in partnerships, so for them, seeing how we “do school” is very different. They’re learning new systems and methodologies by watching our teachers prepare lessons and differentiate their instruction. 

Chinese teachers in each grade level are instructed (by the government) to teach from the same page on the same day. So for example, if you teach 4th grade, all the 4th grade teachers must be on page 89 together, regardless of the needs of their classes. They typically don’t know the names of their students, either, and instead just point to individuals who want to answer a question. There is a high suicide rate because of the pressure put on children to perform and succeed.”

Jenison Public Schools, Chinese teachers, JIAMrs. Jun (pictured right) is a teacher determined to change the atmosphere of Chinese schools. Her sweet demeanor and kind smile are hints at the heart she has for children. During the time she spent with JPS host families in Michigan, she and the others enjoyed home cooking, a trip to the symphony, ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle, and more.

“I’ve loved the atmosphere here. People here are very kind and helpful. It is very easy-going. In China it is very serious. We have many more examinations. Children here are happier. They learn abilities and skills — not just bits of information,” Mrs. Jun reflected.

Because many Chinese parents are noticing the same, there is currently a big push to internationalize schools. That’s where JIA comes in: we believe that our schools possess the level of excellence demanded by the Chinese, and in today’s world of information technology, we have a way to bring our expertise to their doorsteps.

Just as importantly, we also believe that the way we seek to capture kids’ hearts each day can revolutionize the classroom experience of Chinese students who are waiting to be transformed by the efforts of personalized education.

We’re excited to see what the future holds!

Jenison International Academy: School Without Boundaries

It used to be that occupying a seat in a traditional classroom was the only way to emerge from school with a quality education.

It used to be that learning was centered around a blackboard and a pile of books.

Learning still happens that way. Books and blackboards still open minds and chart pathways into new futures. But for some, learning works better if it can happen another way.

It was for those students that Jenison International Academy was created.

Jenison International Academy (JIA) is an online school that offers a personalized education program to students who are looking for an at-home learning experience with their parent acting as a learning coach. JIA students might include those who have struggled in a traditional classroom or those whose academic gifts have outpaced their classmates. Whatever the reason for enrolling in JIA, students find the opportunity to spread their wings in a new way, in a new place: at home!

JIA students have the extra benefit of having access to guidance counselors, school-to-career pathway support, ACT preparation, connection with a mentor teacher, and earning a Jenison Public Schools diploma to name a few. Students also have the opportunity to participate in Jenison’s outstanding fine arts programs.

Students looking for an alternative educational experience may also be encouraged to know that Jenison International Academy plans monthly outings to allow students to build community and enrich the overall learning experience. This year JIA has enjoyed volunteering at Mel Trotter, visiting a local radio station, ice skating at Christmas, tailgating at JHS football games, and visiting ArtPrize in the fall. Activities and updates are shared using Facebook and Twitter.

JIA director, Mrs. Rebekah Redmer, is proud of the tremendous academic achievement of the academy, and feels their success is the outgrowth of the three years of planning and research done by the district before launching.

“[Our achievements are]…directly attributed to the support of the parent(s) in the home (i.e., the learning coach).  We enter into an educational partnership with each family, working together to ensure academic goals are achieved.  JIA is just one of many outstanding programs that JPS has put in place for our students.”

If you or someone you know is interested in a different kind of educational experience, Jenison International Academy would welcome a conversation. Call Colleen at 616.457.8477 or check out their website at

School is changing and Jenison is changing with it. If you have a student ready for change, we hope you’ll consider Jenison International Academy.