Something Special to be Thankful For!

[L to R] Katie Bremer, Mary Pollock, Betsy Norton, Sara Melton, Dan Searle

Did you know that something as small as a Tootsie Roll can earn $2500 for our schools? Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Jenison Knights of Columbus, the JPS Cognitively Impaired Categorical Program at Sandy Hill took home their generous donation from this year’s Tootsie Roll drive!

At this month’s Board of Education meeting, teachers Katie Bremer and Betsy Norton, along with Sandy Hill Principal Sara Melton and Special Ed Director, Mary Pollock accepted the donation on behalf of this important program.

According to Dan Searle, The Knights of Columbus in Jenison (Council #7487) is made up of 240 Catholic men “dedicated to the good works of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. With our #1 priority being charity”. Each year the members vote on the organization that will receive the donations from their annual Tootsie Roll Drive that takes place the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Easter. With volunteer families stationed outside local businesses, they happily pass out Tootsie Rolls in exchange for any donation.  Mr Searle adds, “Every cent we collect from the Tootsie Roll Drive stays in the community. The more we collect, the more that is donated back. Through other programs, our Council alone collects and donates approximately $40,000 each year back to the community.”

The donation will be used to support and advance programs within the categorical program at Sandy Hill. In the past, the monies have been used to purchase i-pads and supporting apps, assist with peer-to-peer groups and many other activities.

Ms Pollock knows the value of these donations to the amazing work being done by teachers and staff. “We have an amazing staff in JPS. Teachers, both general ed and special ed, and support staff are constantly meeting and planning to make sure all students have opportunities to be a part of the school community. This donation will help support the goal of meaningful inclusion. The Knights of Columbus organization has been incredibly supportive of our efforts and they contribute via their Tootsie Roll Drive every year. It is greatly appreciated!”

JPS offers Special Ed categorical programs for the variety of needs presented by our students (Cognitively Impaired, Emotionally Impaired, Autism Spectrum Disorder). Ms Pollock adds, “We appreciate the community partnerships because it helps to foster understanding in the community of how our programs and services are provided. We are very intentional about making making sure all our students spend as much time as possible with typically developing peers. Teachers Katie Bremer and Betsy Norton have done a wonderful job with their peer-to-peer program at Sandy Hill. Students with disabilities are accepted and benefit from the relationships with their peers and the typical peers gain from helping others and learning to understand differences.

The Knights of Columbus are certainly important community partners and the admiration between organizations is mutual. “Our kids attend these schools. We love our schools and know we are blessed to have such great and caring educators”, says Mr Searle.

On the day we take an extra moment to appreciate what we have, please add the Knights of Columbus and JPS teachers and support staff to the list! Giving all of our students the best education possible is certainly a team effort! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at JPS!

Knights Of Columbus Contribute to JPS Special Education

Jenison Public Schools, Jenison Special Education Program, Mary Pollack, Tom Ten Brink

Mr. Michael London presents Special Education Director Mary Pollock with a gift from Knights of Columbus.

Have you ever been greeted by a smiling member of the Knights of Columbus standing outside your grocery store in the weeks leading up to Easter? Garbed in yellow and offering Tootsie Rolls in exchange for your donation, these men are “men of faith and men of action.

At January’s board meeting, we were honored to welcome Knights of Columbus member Mr. Michael London. Mr. London explained that one of the missions of the Knights is to support outstanding community work that is already being done by local schools and organizations.

In 2012, the group raised over $8,000 in donations, and gave out countless Tootsie Rolls! Of that money, $2,560 was given to Jenison Public Schools to help bolster our already-exemplary special education program. Another $1,600 was sent to help support the Special Olympics and thousands more went to other schools and non-profit groups.

Special Education Director Mary Pollock and Special Education Teacher Katie Tuit were thrilled to receive money that could be used to purchase specialty items normally outside of their budget, such as additional iPads.

“iPads are great for special education students because many of them do better with the option to dictate speech into a machine rather than having to write or type each word. For example, dictation helps them look up words they’re familiar with but may not know how to spell.

…The iPads have also been helpful for daily review on basics such as math facts. Flipping through math review on this device is a motivator for kids who find success with non-traditional learning styles,” said Katie during the meeting.

We wish to sincerely thank the Knights of Columbus for their generosity and commitment to partnering with Jenison Public Schools. You’ve blessed us!

Jenison Public Schools, Knights of Columbus

(L to R) Superintendent Tom TenBrink, JPS Special Education Director Mary Pollock, Special Education Teacher Katie Tuit, and Knights of Columbus Representative Michael London