I am excited to introduce another group of dynamic teachers who are new to Jenison Public Schools this year. It’s great to welcome folks from within our community and outside the area. A big thank you to principal Holly McGoran and the entire Bursley Elementary School team for a successful beginning to this school year and your daily commitment to show up and finish strong! Our children are blessed to spend their days with you.
We welcome Samantha Anderson to her first year at JPS as a 6th grade Teacher at Bursley Elementary. She is so proud of her students and what they have been able to accomplish together in the short (and somewhat unconventional) year we’ve had so far. The hardworking reputation of our Jenison teachers grabbed her and she’s excited to add her name to the list of those that go above and beyond for her young Wildcats.
Outside the classroom, she spends time as a student herself at Grand Valley State University working towards a Masters of Education in Instruction and Curriculum. Samantha also works with children through ABA therapy. You can also find her enjoying the great outdoors year round in water, snow or by the campfire.
Madison Baker is an Extended Traditional Kindergarten teacher at Bursley Elementary. Her students are learning from home with her as their dedicated online teacher. Growing up in the area, she knew that the values and mission of Jenison Public Schools aligned with her own so she is very excited to start her full time teaching career with us. She has been impressed with the resounding theme of cohesiveness among the Bursley staff members – knowing that she has support around every corner.
As Madison is also personally passionate about mental health, she could see herself working in that field if she wasn’t a teacher.
Sarah Faasse is as a Kindergarten Extended Traditional teacher at Bursely Elementary. Her family chose to move to Jenison for her own children’s education. She appreciates the size of the district and the programs we are able to offer. Between four children, her family was involved in the special education and spanish immersion programs.
She previously spent 10 years teaching. Volunteering in the classroom for her own children for the last 7 years eventually brought her back to the classroom full time. After classes to update her teaching license, she joined the collaborative teaching ranks of JPS. She can’t imagine doing anything else, teaching is one of her greatest joys and no matter what capacity she finds herself, she will always be teaching something!
Kady Hernke comes to JPS from a local community where she spent 7 years teaching. She is excited to teach 2nd grade at Bursely Elementary this year.
Kady sensed that Jenison is a community full of people who want what is best for the students they serve. And she is excited to join our district as we strive to provide students with an excellent education while also developing their character.
An outdoorsy booklover, Kady enjoys arts and crafts and spending time with family and friends, and especially her young son.
Katie Johnson feels lucky that she had the opportunity to fill substitute teaching positions in the Jenison District last year. This meant she was able to experience the comfortable, team focused atmosphere within the teaching community. It was also one of the reasons she chose to officially start her career with us. In joining Bursley Elementary as a 5th grade teacher, she looks forward to continuing the friendships and great working relationships she has enjoyed with so many colleagues.
When she’s not teaching, she might be taking in a sporting event in-person or from the couch with her snuggly cat. She also enjoys time with friends and occasional trips to the east side of the state to visit family. Given the role athletics have played in her life, she might have chosen a career in sports management field if she wasn’t a teacher.
Becca Kelly chose Jenison because of our commitment and clear emphasis to ensure each student is able to achieve success, and that lasting relationships are encouraged with students and their families.
A lifelong Michigan resident and Michigan State University alum for Bachelors and Master’s education degrees, Becca is excited to join Jenison Public Schools this year as a 5th grade teacher at Bursley Elementary School. She previously taught 3rd grade for 6 years. In her spare time she enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and being outdoors. If she wasn’t a teacher, she thinks it would be fun to work as a museum curator!
Tara Kortman joins Bursley Elementary this year as a 4th grade teacher. She chose Jenison because she shares the priorities of relationships in learning, a strong focus on literacy and support for staff and students. She grew up in Hudsonville and is now happy to move back to the area with her husband and 2 young sons, after teaching 10 years in Saugatuck.
When she’s not teaching at school she loves taking walks and spending time with her sons and the family golden retriever. If she wasn’t a teacher, she would enjoy being a stay-at-home mom.
Jennifer Merritt attended Rosewood Elementary and is a proud graduate of JHS. She and her husband (Calvin Merritt, new Sandy Hill 5th grade teacher) live in Jenison with their 4 children who also attend JPS. She previously taught Kindergarten in Grandville.
As a student and a parent of JPS students, she already knows and loves the district. In these early days of her teaching experience at Bursley, she says it is evident that the Jenison district watches out for, and takes care of one another. She appreciates the environment created between staff and students, remarking that is such a positive, respectful family atmosphere.
When she’s not teaching 6th graders, or attending/coaching her kids’ events you might find her shopping, baking or just enjoying some downtime with her family.
Jalynn Mitchell is starting her first year with Jenison Public Schools teaching 2nd grade at Bursley Elementary.
The staff support and the students’ big hearts have made a great first impression. Jalynn appreciates the family culture of Jenison and highly values intentional, positive relationship building.
She loves to go to the beach, watch Hope College basketball, and practice yoga. If she wasn’t a teacher she would probably be an event planner.