Pinewood is a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Last fall, students all across the state of Michigan – including Jenison, of course, took part in state exams. Our kids did their best and little did the Pinewood students know that their amazing scores would automatically nominate them for the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School award!

Once the nomination was announced, members of the Pinewood School Improvement Team went to work on the lengthy application! Jane Miles [2nd grade], Sara Brower [4th grade], Michelle U’Ren [5th grade], Marie Doerr [School Psychologist] and Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown completed the application that included information on school demographics, attendance, the school mission and how it’s accomplished. The application was 25 pages by the time this phenomenal team was done!

The application was sent off to Washington DC where it was conditionally accepted, depending on the next set of test scores. And those scores meant Pinewood met the qualifications for being named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Only 340 schools across the country were awarded this prestigious title and only thirteen in Michigan. Pinewood was chosen based on their exceptional level of social, emotional, and behavioral supports offered to children including Social Thinking Curriculum, Whole Brain Teaching, Mindfulness, Teach Like a Pirate, and Trauma-Informed Schools.

Because of these amazing supports and the teachers and students using them every day, the Department of Education has selected Pinewood to be featured alongside 4 – 7 other nationwide schools at the award ceremony in Washington DC next month. A camera crew will be coming to Pinewood to film “A Day in the Life of Pinewood” and all school representatives attending the ceremony from across the country will see the great things happening at Pinewood and Jenison!

Mrs Brown believes Pinewood is a special place because of the way teachers feel about each student there. “Pinewood stands out because teachers embrace every student as their own. Regardless of academic need, social or emotional needs – they are taken care of.” She also wants to thank the Pinewood community saying, “I want to thank the families, who are also part of this award. Thank you for sending your kids here, participating when needed, and being part of the community.”

We are so incredibly proud of the work being done at Pinewood to support ALL students! Our teachers and staff work so hard to make sure students have everything they need to be successful in school and we’re thrilled that the whole country will get to see why! Way to go, Pinewood!

Pinewood Offers Terrific After-School Options for Students

It may have been the bananas and apples that got them going after school, but it was certainly the encouragement they received from Principal Rachael Postle-Brown that kept them moving forward. That’s because these students are staying after school with a goal: to increase reading fluency and mathematical know-how. And they’re doing it with the help of dedicated volunteers from  Grand Valley State University, parents, and their principal.

Jenison Public Schools, Pinewood Elementary, After School Support

Pinewood Elementary School’s math and reading support groups offer the additional academic practice some students need to hone skills and solidify new concepts. They explore strategies covered in class but approach them in new ways to increase their staying power. Using dice to conceptualize mixed numbers and working with number cubes to reinforce the significance of numerators and denominators were just two of the activities planned for this session.

Jenison Public Schools, Pinewood Elementary, After-School support

Principal Rachael Postel-Brown works with math students after-school.

While students whose learning styles are more tactical and hands-on appreciate the a more creative take on math, Mrs. Postel-Brown says it’s not just the techniques employed that help make the math stick — it’s the fact that parents are involved in supporting the process.

“Our parents are fantastic and so encouraging! We do our best to keep the lines of communication open and work together.”

The other component of the academic after-school program is focused on reading fluency. Mark Boersma, a Master’s Student at GVSU, uses the Read Naturally curriculum to help strengthen comprehension and reinforce the use of expression in reading.

“I’ve noticed a definite change,” Mr. Boersma says. Right now we’re working on writing summary responses and are focusing on punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. We’re monitoring their progress, and by using a lot of repetition and reading interesting stories, we’re making advances.” 

Mr. Boersma works with a student on reading fluency.

Mr. Boersma works with a student on reading fluency.

Over in the Pinewood gym, Dee Perry is providing care and individualized attention to kids in the before- and after-school program.  Affectionately called “Mrs. D” by her students, this beloved woman spends her energies not on academics (although they do read many books!), but on  childcare.

With hours of care from 6:45- 9 in the morning and again from 3:45 – 6 after school, Mrs. Perry has spent the last decade loving kids by providing them with a quiet reading space, help with homework, a snack to munch on, and playtime right at Pinewood Elementary. Currently there are forty-two students registered and thirty-eight actively attending. “Mrs. D” says she can’t wait to be with her group each and every day; they have truly become “her kids.”

“I just love interacting with and working with the kids! They make me laugh. I love seeing them grow and advance as people. It’s a great job!”

Jenison Public Schools, Pinewood Elementary, After-School supportWe applaud the dedicated time and effort that these adults invest in the lives of our students! They are indeed helping to shape our future!