Silly Staff Supporting Students

Friday nights are great for family fun around our community, and April 12 was no exception! We have seriously smart educators at JPS who aren’t afraid to let their hair down and get silly for a good cause. Staff members of Sandy Hill and Kids First engaged in a good old fashioned basketball game – along with a few crazy twists. Brandon Graham (principal of the Jenison High School) and I had a great time – not to mention some of the best seats in the house acting as referees for the event.

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The Sandy Hill Hot Shots were really dominating the court until the last minute when the Kids First Krew had a come back and won by 1 point in the end! Families in the stands brought their posters and were cheering alongside the kazoo band. The players persevered through silly antics like playing with oven mitts, dressing up in costumes, swapping the basketball for a football! It was one surprise after another and the energy was high! The students really loved joining the staff on the floor for a full court dance party! The reason behind the fun was to bring awareness to and raise money for the Jenison Parent Liaison program.

140109493dc194d009e64a2e454cedb1ba36ac66.jpg“Our mission is to promote student success by building bridges between home, school and the community. Events like these are so amazing as we see time and time again, the community show up and take care of their own in a big way.” says Mary Veldink, Jenison Parent Liaison. “Funding for our services comes from grant money and the generosity of the community. We are constantly overwhelmed by the support of the community to make a difference for the Jenison families we serve.”

With a donation of nearly $2,000, Sara Melton, Principal of Sandy Hill calls the night a success. “We’re proud to be able to support the Parent Liaison program with this fundraiser as they do so much for the community, including Sandy Hill and Kids First families. We had such a great turnout! It was a tough competition and a fun night!”

If you would like to connect with the Jenison Parent Liaison team, you can learn more here: Meet the Jenison Parent Liaisons and check out their website. They also offer a monthly newsletter that is packed with family resource ideas. Currently, their largest requests have come for food, gas cards and mental health services/counseling. Going strong in their second year, I am incredibly grateful for this connection to our student families and for the loving outreach the Parent Liaison team.


Elise Meeusen – 3rd grader at El Puente, dressed up in her El Puente tee shirt and attended the game with her grandparents. “It was so fun seeing our teachers be so silly! They were playing basketball but shooting tennis balls and footballs – and we still won!”
Maelynn Gamble – 4th grader at Sandy Hill had a great time sitting with her friends Carmen and Harleigh. “I thought it was hilarious when they were trying to play with the tiny tennis ball! It was very funny! I busted out so many moves on the dance floor too. We had a great time!”
Julie Betancourt – Kindergartner at El Puente attended the game with her family.
“I had so much fun cheering for Mr. Gingerich and my teachers! They were doing the silliest things! And I can’t believe Mrs. Giere had to crack an egg on her head!”

Outdoor Science Adventures

One of the best things about Michigan is the experience we have with the change of each season. In addition to outdoor recess in just about any weather, our Transitional Kindergarten class studies science and sharpens other skills while engaging in outdoor project based learning.

Through a valuable partnership with Ottawa County, our Early Childhood teachers plan their classroom curriculum to link up with Ottawa County naturalists and trips to local parks.

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These off site nature learning experiences are ongoing throughout the school year. They provide fresh air and great physical activity, offer a shift in learning and teaches them how to explore individually as well as be part of a group. Students are learning to notice things, compare and think specifically about all their senses. Often the school year starts with timid students as they may be riding a bus for the first time and are given the freedom to explore and learn from the world around them.

136300071d3ce24f3b6df4ba1a5a0c28762e8b0aThe students’ curiosity and questioning skills shine through while they are discovering nature. Teachers are often able to better relate to students who struggle with traditional skills in the classroom. They may begin to count objects in the woods (ex: sticks or rocks), or use pre-reading skills while looking at maps of the different parks. They are enjoying themselves and grasping learning in an alternative environment. These trips also help deepen relationships between teachers and students providing helpful context for when they return to the classroom.  

Our hardworking Jenison teachers aren’t afraid to engage learning on different levels for all students. As a result of this unique science program, these little learners have swelled in confidence and independence. No matter the season or the weather, excitement about these trips continues to grow, always looking forward to their next outdoor learning adventure.

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Teachers, Blake Smolen and Megan Thomas enjoy an outdoor science exploration with their students and paraprofessionals, Kris Andres and Mary Dejonge.

100 Days Smarter

It all started back in August, when the elementary classes began tallying each new day they were in school. Counting in singles, then bundling into 10’s and 20’s – a real life math lesson in progress.

The 100th day marks a special opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate major milestones in our students’ academic achievement. There is so much hard work and learning that happens in the first 100 days of school! We’re thankful that Michigan seems to be feeling back to normal, otherwise I think many were concerned we would never be able to celebrate this year!

Check out Pinewood, Sandy Hill and El Puente as each child was crowned “100 days smarter” and enjoyed a day of celebration!

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9780545776073_mresCreative student contributions of 100 items brought unique collections to the ‘100 Day Museum’.

Some students read a book called Hooray for the 100th Day, about a student who was trying to accomplish 100 good deeds before his 100th day of school was over. He finally reached his goal, but not before several messes were made!

Another activity was writing about how to spend $100! Students shared many fun ideas how to spend the money on themselves and others!

“Dress like a 100 year old” is a favorite, the kids always have so much fun seeing each other and imagining who they will be when they are 100 years old!

Thank you to our amazing teachers who go above and beyond to engage our students in fun, meaningful ways!

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Wild Winter Week

January 2019 was a stark contrast to the mild and snowless December we recently experienced – and it was probably the most in-depth meteorology lesson this generation of students has ever experienced. Words like polar vortex, lake effect, arctic blast, and snow squall paved the way for a Governor issued “State of Emergency” for the lower peninsula!

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While it looked like a beautiful Winter Wonderland outside our windows, those conditions always cause concern for the safety of our students and staff. Even after the snow somewhat calmed by midweek, the bitter cold was still a force to be reckoned with. Windchill temperatures were the coldest on record since 1994 rendering the use of ice-melt salt ineffective. This turned out to be the perfect storm of “inclement weather”, thus keeping us home for a whole week! 

Now, as I reflect on a difficult weather week, and even as we sit in the midst of more delays this week, I wanted to share that I’m so proud of the community that Jenison is, even when the busses aren’t running.

Snow Day Learning

Just because school wasn’t open, doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Many of our dedicated teachers took to social media to interact with students and read books to them; encouraging them to sharpen their brains with learning while on snow break. Students had a lot of fun seeing their teachers at home with their own kids, still being teachers! With a few breaks in the weather, some even gathered for impromptu reading time! A ‘snowpocalypse’ can’t even stop our tremendous staff!

Jenison Students and Teachers keep the brainpower going during a long snowy break!

Jenison students and teachers stay cozy while keeping the brain power going!

 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Jenison Teacher and Coach, Kelly Krepps is an excellent role model and consistently sets the bar high for our students. Coach Krepps put a call out to his athletes on Twitter, challenging them to get outside and shovel a neighbor’s driveway and sidewalks. Insisting they do not accept payment; unless of course they were being paid in sincere gratitude and maybe hot chocolate. Way to think outside yourself, Jenison Wrestlers!

While many squeal with excitement at the prospect of an unexpected day off school, 30415482_1783281571691849_4282489301717136922_nthere are families in our community that rely on school meals for daily nutrition. On the first day of the break, Hand2Hand founder and Executive Director, Chari Honderd put out a call on social media and through a television interview for those who may need help to get through the week. 

Rachael Postle-Brown, the principal of our Pinewood Elementary School was one of the volunteers who hand delivered bags of food. 

“All of the families were very grateful and thanked me. It was an adventure. I got stuck in one family’s driveway and the Dad came out to help. He took the time to share how much he appreciated the support his family receives from Jenison Public Schools. One of our former elementary students (who is now in high school) saw me from across the street and came out in the cold to help. It was so nice to see him and his character shining through. At the next house, the parents said how much the food was going to help over the weekend. At the final delivery of the day, the student was so excited and thankful that he jumped up and down. I felt blessed to be able to be of service for our families. I want our community partners to know that we are so thankful for all they do for our students. It is so appreciated.” 

We’re so happy to partner with a forward thinking organization and that selfless volunteers were abundant. Over three days during that week, 82 families in the west Michigan area received deliveries of food, hope and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excited to kick off 2018-2019!

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Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year at Jenison Public Schools! We’re so glad to have our students back with us! Please subscribe and check in with us every Thursday to catch the highlights happening in our schools!

As superintendent, I have more than a few first back-to-school days under my belt, but it’s still my favorite time of the year. For the last few weeks, I have been watching our amazing teachers and staff all across the district prepare for another successful year with our students. Working in their empty, quiet classrooms while anticipating the buzz and activity just around the corner; and looking forward to the promise budding within each student they will meet.

img-2918.jpgA pretty soggy start aside, it was a particularly exciting first day on Tuesday as we welcomed students to our new Kids First building. We are so proud of this learning environment with 40 state of the art classrooms. This new building is home to our Early Childhood Center and Spanish Immersion program. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to provide our students an up-to-date, caring, loving, and supportive place to learn and grow.

Lee Westervelt and Lloyd Gingerich will lead the Kids First family as principals of the Early Childhood Center and Spanish Immersion program, respectively. Lee has been in this role since 2004 and Lloyd comes from Rosewood Elementary, where he worked with the Spanish Immersion program since its inception 9 years ago. The Spanish Immersion program has been renamed El Puente, which translates to The Bridge. 

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L to R: Jonah Graham – JHS Student, Chelsey Danielson – ECC Staff, Lee Westervelt – ECC Principal and Sarah Stier – ECC Secretary.

 

Lee is looking forward to continuing an already strong focus on kids at this new building and said, “Kids First is a shining example of a community that supports education – and for that we are very grateful. It really was designed and constructed with our students as the focus. We have a common purpose of providing the best staff and facilities for every JPS student.”

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El Puente Principal, Lloyd Gingerich

The first day of school also marked the first time that Lloyd and El Puente staff and students were under the same roof. Lloyd eagerly awaits the unity this building will provide, “The Kids First building gives us the opportunity to unite a program that’s been functioning divided in two separate elementary schools for the last eight years. Our teachers are looking forward to collaborating with each other on a daily basis rather than several times a month. Today, the teachers and I finally felt like the team we were meant to be. The students, many of whom were apprehensive about mixing with a new group of peers, found even more friends to learn Spanish with.  It was a great start to our year and our future.”

When I arrived Tuesday morning to the Kids First building, I was overwhelmed with the number of adults who were standing in front of the building with umbrellas greeting our parents and students, wearing the most genuine smiles and walking them into the building. In addition to our amazing team of Jenison administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals greeting our families, we were blessed to have pastors and members of Fair Haven Church welcoming our parents and children to the first day of school.

What I witnessed that first morning at the Kids First building is what our Jenison community is all about.

Welcome back Wildcats, we’re looking forward to another amazing year!

Enjoy these photos from the August 15 community open house, when the weather was much more kind than it has been this week!

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