JPS Wildcat PrinciPALS

The month of October is National Principals Month and I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to the hardworking JPS principals – and to thank them for their RELENTLESS work, day in and day out.

Webster’s definition of “principal” gives a rigid feeling of dominant control and authority. While the professionals in this role are definitely in an ‘authoritative’ position; ‘rigid’ and ‘dominate’ are absolutely not words that I would use to describe our Principals.

JPS Principals are true servant leaders setting the pace for our schools, as we seek to engage each and every child in our rigorous and comprehensive educational programming. Our principals are leading by example as we are eager to build meaningful and lasting relationships with the students we are privileged to serve. Most importantly, our principals hold firm to our core value that is to provide a safe, caring, nurturing, dynamic, and engaging learning environment in which every child can thrive. Our principals, and the staff they lead, provide a distinct difference and help Jenison stand out among other local districts.

Meet Jon Mroz, the new Sandy Hill principal – for the second time. Growing up in Jenison, he never fathomed he would find a teaching job in West Michigan, much less at his alma mater. 

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Jon Mroz, Sandy Hill Principal

Jon joined the JPS staff as a 6th grade Science teacher at Sandy Hill following graduation from Grand Valley State University. After 6 years of teaching, he stepped into the role of Principal at Sandy Hill. He loved working with the wide variety of kids in this different role, however he stepped away for a job in the private sector after two years. Two years later, Jon was missing the people focused profession of being a principal and I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to invite him back. Jon lives in Jenison with his wife and their three young daughters. He looks forward to a new challenge every day and is grateful to be surrounded by people that want the best for each and every kid they meet. One of his favorite perks of the job this year is riding to school with his favorite kindergartner, his oldest daughter.

Read more about the other amazing Jenison Public Schools Principals below:


 

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Dr. Brandon Graham, JHS Principal, is celebrating 20 years with JPS – the last 16 as principal. Brandon counts himself lucky to work with a highly dedicated and focused group of individuals at the high school. High school is a great time to watch the students grow into caring and compassionate young people who are dedicated to serving those around them. He is an appreciative leader who joins the team and is dedicated to meeting the needs of the entire student body.

 

 


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Brett Cataldo, JJHS Principal, brought his teaching and administration experience to the district 10 years ago. He loves being at Jenison and being a part of an “unbelievably supportive” team that gives 100% to keep the students the priority. The highlight of his day is centered around connection; with students, staff, and family.

“Everyone works so hard but we have so much fun learning together!”

 

 


38d1e0efa4c34d49965d3702bb5c175dCrystal Morse, Bauerwood Elementary Principal is very driven and loves to take advantage of creative problem solving and  forward thinking. After 8 years of teaching at JPS, she found herself packing up her classroom and moving to the Principal’s office. And for 15 years, she has been making decisions for the benefit of the kids. She continues to look for unique ways to show up daily for her students and demonstrate that they are loved and supported, no matter what. She and her staff work tirelessly to build relationships with students with the belief – and experience – that the academics will eventually fall into place.

“Each student is so important to me that the time, energy, tears, and each baby step to success is SOOOO worth it.” 

 


75c0d230c8894edc8c8bcaf80e3961afBrent Huck, Bursley Elementary Principal has been at JPS for 7 years, this is his 4th year as principal. One of Brent’s favorite parts of the job is socializing with the students. Chatting with them in the hallways, classrooms and playground is a highlight. He also feels blessed to work with such a tremendous group of hardworking and passionate educators. The genuine compassion they have for their students, their creative lesson planning, and unwavering commitment to student success are unparalleled. They never cease to amaze me.

“JPS students are the best! I love getting to know each one of them!”

 


3388d636734a455695d334a16d5cef8cRachael Postle-Brown, Pinewood Elementary Principal has been in education for nearly 20 years. Her roles of teaching high school and assistant administration have prepared her for the excitement of leadership in the elementary world. For 8 years, she has embraced the unpredictability and seized every opportunity to help a student with a new discovery, try a new way to encourage someone or just share a laugh with students and staff.

 “I am inspired by my staff every day, they don’t just work a job – they are on a mission to serve our students and our community.”

 


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Luke Verbeek, Rosewood Principal has been with JPS for 7 years; teaching 6th grade for 5 years and currently in his second year as principal. He loves being a principal in the Jenison district because he gets the opportunity to work with amazing students, parents, and staff members every day. Starting out as a teacher, Luke loves the opportunity to get back in the classroom and seeing what the students are accomplishing. Coming to work everyday puts a smile on his face because he loves greeting the members of his Rosewood village – students, parents, or the awesome staff he partners with daily. Words cannot express his appreciation for his colleagues and the commitment they share for the students at Rosewood.

“It truly takes a village to raise a child and I am proud to be part of the Rosewood/Jenison village.” 

 


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Lloyd Gingerich, Principal at El Puente has worked in education as a teacher and administrator for over 20 years. This is his 12th year in Jenison. For two years, he lived and taught in Costa Rica and was immersed in the Spanish language. He became a fluent speaker and gained a broader view of the world – outside of west Michigan. Daily, he takes those experiences and partners with his staff to challenge the students to grow and reach their potential. He was a key participant in the growth of the JPS Spanish Immersion program. He loves being a principal in Jenison because he feels that the whole community truly cares about education and they show that with their actions as much as with their words.

“The strong culture of teamwork in service of the children in our community is why I brought my own children to Jenison.” 

 


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Lee Westervelt, ECC Principal has spent his entire career in administration – 25 years with JPS. Being constantly surrounded by curiosity and wonderment is something that excites him on a daily basis. Lee sees his daily playground duty as his classroom where he can guide the children in ‘Being a Good Friend – 101’. Watching them cooperate and play inclusively is a highlight which extends to the classroom and home. 

“I get to be a part of students’ lives and help shape them for a better future. How cool is that! I love what I do.”

 


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Matthew Baughman, Jenison International Academy – Elementary Principal is in his second year in the district. He loves putting his passion to work at JPS because there is an openness to rethink components of traditional education. Conversations and programs are clearly about helping kids and supporting teachers. Families value education and are engaged in the path to success. He feels the program is validated in the support JIA receives from the Central Office provides time, resources, and support for new initiatives. Greeting in a student-led way each morning is the highlight of his day. Matthew also has the opportunity to teach PE every Tuesday and Kindergarten Coding every Wednesday.  

“The JIA staff are committed not only to seeing that students learn important skills and information, but also how to apply that learning to the real world.”


osterberg_k_2019.jpgKrista Osterberg, Jenison International Academy – Junior/High School Principal has been part of JPS for 14 years. While teaching, she has been integral in the formation and progression of the JIA; participating in the development and guidance of each program over the past 10 years. Now, her 14th year marks the beginning of a totally new adventure, as we divide the oversight of the Jenison International Academy and she takes the appointment to Principal of the secondary programs for the JIA. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with amazing students, families, and educators – to be creative in providing optimal, personalized learning opportunities and pathways for our students in both virtual and blended settings. 

“I appreciate, and am proud of the numerous unique opportunities that JIA Junior/Senior High offers to JPS families”

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!