Introducing our new Sandy Hill Principal!

If you are a member of the Sandy Hill family, you have seen Sara Melton greeting students, teachers, and parents as she acclimates to a new school.

Mrs Melton has spent her entire career in education and comes by it honestly. Her grandmother was the first person in her family to receive a degree and she put it to use as a teacher. Her grandfather was a Superintendent in North Carolina in the 1960’s working to desegregate schools. She spent the last fourteen years serving the Grand Rapids Public School system [most recently as the Principal at Shawmut Hills Elementary School]. Being passionate about families in the cycle of poverty and those who speak English as a second language, she worked with policy makers, the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center and others to make sure those that who are underrepresented in schools have a voice.

As she continued to imagine what her career might look like beyond GRPS, Mrs Melton began to research area schools and looking for those districts that were embracing creativity in education and celebrating the gifts and strengths that each child brings to school, and she was impressed by JPS. Specifically, she was intrigued by the JIA, Spanish Immersion, and when she saw a project featuring the ACT program at her local hardware store, she knew it would be a good choice for her. “I was gaining a new understanding of Jenison and saw a passion for growing and encouraging creativity.”

When she began her tenure at Sandy Hill she was immediately impressed by the consistency and investment of families in their school and community. Mrs Melton was especially thankful to see STEM and Spanish as regularly scheduled specials, the sensory tools that students have access to, and the wide base of support available to all students.

Mrs Melton wants to engage with students in ways that encourage their whole minds and value how and what they are learning. Don’t be surprised if she asks your child what he or she is currently reading or your child asks questions at meals in Spanish [which older students are encouraged to do during lunch]!

When Mrs Melton isn’t working at Sandy Hill, she loves to travel and experience local cultures. She plays the piano and has participated in adult soccer leagues. [Do I smell a challenge, Mr Beachum and Mr Bosch?] She also enjoys experiencing local ethnic restaurants with her husband and children where everyone is challenged to try something new. The family also loves biking and running the Kent Trails together.

Welcome to Jenison and Sandy Hill, Mrs Melton! We’re glad you’re here and look forward to continuing to get to know you!

Summer Series: Student Art Sample [Kindergarten]

Logo

Over the course of our summer we will feature various artists and art pieces from each Jenison elementary school as well as the Junior High and High School. Each piece was carefully chosen by our art teachers and we hope you will enjoy the talents and hard work of our students while you also enjoy a beautiful and relaxing summer!

Untitled
By Molly Dobbs
Sandy Hill Elementary

Molly Dobbs is an amazing kindergarten artist! She is constantly creating art that goes above and beyond in class. Her imagination is one that is a “gem” in the world of artists. The two works of art that I have chosen both have examples of Molly’s great craftsmanship and wonderful imagination. She has added her own snowman to the Landscape painting we created [below]. In the bug jar, she has added a flashlight that is shining on her Moth.

It is a joy to have Molly in my Art class. She is always amazing me with her own style!

Molly’s and her artwork were selected by her elementary art teacher, Mrs. Streelman- Dismukes.

JPS Teachers Rock!

Across the country, teachers are being celebrated with Teacher Appreciation Week and National Teacher Day! At JPS we know that our greatest assets are our amazing teachers and the passion, creativity, and knowledge they bring to their classrooms each day. Sandy Hill Principal, Jon Mroz, appreciates the time set aside for this important acknowledgement. “Teacher Appreciation week provides the opportunity to say the extra “thank you’s” that are sometimes difficult to get to during the busy times of the school year.  I can think of many examples at Sandy Hill where teachers step right in to help because they see the importance of supporting all students, staff, and families around the building.”

We all know that our teachers work hard to teach the curriculum and do everything they can to help students achieve their academic goals, but teachers at JPS [and around the world!] are doing so much more as well. “The staff at Sandy Hill are extremely hard working and I can think of many examples where they may help a student in the hallway, on the playground, or anywhere in the building, even when that student is not in their “homeroom.” We have a focus that all students at Sandy Hill are our students, and every adult is responsible for helping every student grow. A couple of very specific stories [from a very long list]  when teachers are going above and beyond are: providing their own gloves or coats to a student when their hands were cold, bringing in or buying clothing for a student in need, buying snacks for students in need, reaching out to and partnered with community members to figure out ways to reward/recognize students, and donating or finding ways to get items donated for families’ daily needs.”

Because we all learn better in a positive, supportive, holistic environment, our students excel when our teachers are aware of and devoted to their students overall well-being. Mr Mroz adds, “There are many examples at Sandy Hill when students experienced an immense amount of positive change because of their amazing teacher[s]. Many students have not only shown tremendous growth academically, but socially and emotionally as well. It is always rewarding to see the gains a child can make with their confidence both in and out of the classroom resulting from the connection they have made with their teacher.”

If you are appreciative of the work your child’s teacher is doing, you know a teacher in your neighborhood, or you are living proof of the devotion of a teacher, it is always a great time to say, “THANK YOU”! As a former teacher and current administrator, Mr. Mroz knows the impact of these not-so-simple words. “The “Thank You’s” go along way to teachers as well, so they can have the reminders of the positive impact they are leaving, and it also models the gratitude we try to instill on our students as well.”

[This writer would like to kick things off by saying “thank you” to my high school English teacher, David R. Harchick, who taught me to love literature, not be afraid to critique writing even when it’s a classic, be the best I can be, and to never fix my hair or makeup in public.]

Additionally, Mr. Mroz recommends to parents that they keep the lines of communication with teachers open. “Students and parents can also show their appreciation by having open lines of communication with teachers. This allows teachers to have as much knowledge possible about their students to meet each students’ individual needs.”

To our incredible JPS teachers we want to remind you that the work you do is valuable beyond measure, even if you can’t see it right away. “Many times, the impact you make is not going to be seen until a students’ time in your classroom is done. It is compared to watering a seed a little bit at a time, until one day, the student begins to make personal connections that creates relevancy, and they begin to grow and flourish.”

Thank you, teachers, for all you sacrifice for our students and the ways they flourish because of your dedication. May you always remember,
“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

Students Practice Mindfulness

img_2631Maybe you’ve been hearing the term, “mindfulness” in conversations and been curious about its meaning and implications. You aren’t alone! Mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular practice for people of all ages and the benefits are far-reaching and long-lasting.

Erika Betts, School Social Worker at Rosewood and Sandy Hill attended a conference on mindfulness in the fall of 2015 and “fell completely in love with the concept”. Since that time, Mrs Betts has read multiple books and attended additional conferences on the subject and recognizes the practical benefits. “What I love about it is that it addresses so many problems that we see in the classroom on a daily basis with students; difficulty focusing and paying attention, impulsive decision making, difficulty with emotional regulation including anxiety, anger, and low frustration tolerance”.

img_2627Electronics and technology have become so integral to our daily lives and there are various levels of consequences as a result. “In some cases kids are spending hours on these devises each day, and because of this, they are used to such a high level of stimulation and frequent gratification.  Then, once the devises are turned off, they become easily bored and irritable because “real life” can’t compete with that level of excitement.  Mindfulness helps to teach kids how to slow down and pay attention to small things, teaches them how to regulate their breathing, and also increases their problem solving skills, their ability to think critically, as well as to control their impulses.”

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-11-35-17-amBut what is mindfulness? Mrs. Betts explains it as creating a balance between your brain and body chemistry.   “Research tells us that when people [kids or adults] become emotionally heightened, the thinking portion of their brain actually shuts down, and the emotional part of their brain takes over.  That is when the “caveman instincts” of fight, flight, and/or freeze come into play.  In this state people tend to react quickly, without thinking through possible consequences that could occur.  What the repeated practice of mindfulness does is allows our body to calm more quickly when we are emotionally charged, in order for us to be able to think through best responses to stressful situations. “

Mrs Betts led two seminars for a handful of teachers at Rosewood and Sandy Hill and some of those teachers have begun incorporating mindfulness into their daily routines. One of those teachers is Luke VerBeek and he reports that after being invited to the seminar, and doing some of his own research as well, he decided it would be beneficial to his 6th grade students. “We [students and teachers] have so many expectations and extracurricular activities happening in our lives that keep us rushing from one activity to another.  Mindfulness has given us permission to stop, slow down, and only worry about being present.  It has allowed us to not worry about events in our lives that have happened in the past or that may happen in the future.

img_2632Taking time out of every day to practice intentional breathing, mindful body posture, and a quiet mind gives Mr. VerBeek’s students the chance to slow down in a very busy world. They have also taken the tools of mindfulness in the classroom to other aspects of their lives as well. “My students have used mindfulness beyond the allotted time we have dedicated in our classroom.  Many have mentioned how they have used it in their sporting events while shooting free throws or serving the volleyball.  One student even mentioned how it has helped her with her anxiety.  They use the breathing techniques we have worked on in class to calm them down and focus on the job at hand.  Mindfulness has allowed my students the freedom to slow down, if only for a few minutes every day.”

Mrs Betts says, “Mindfulness can also help us to clear our heads so we can just focus on one thing at a time instead of having our minds full of so many distractions all at once.  This not only helps us when our emotions take over, but it can help our abilities to listen to others [their teachers, their parents, etc], to organize our thoughts, while taking tests, while working with classmates, etc.”

If you’d like to try mindfulness at home you can check out the book, “10 Mindful Minutes” by Goldie Hawn. You can also watch this three minute video to learn more:

Finally, for an example of a practice for kids, we recommend the video below:

Thank you Mrs Betts, Mr VerBeek, and the many other amazing teachers in Jenison teaching their students the importance of mindfulness! We’re grateful for this knowledge and skill that will support us throughout our whole lives!

Sandy Hill Third Grader and His Class Teach the World About Love and Laundry

miii3995At elementary schools all around the country there are kids earning points and rewards for trying to improve their behavior or work on particular skills. The rewards are usually specific to the student’s interests such as additional technology time, reading with a friend, eating lunch with their teacher, etc. but these average rewards were not enough for one Sandy Hill third grader. Kamden VanMaanen wanted more. Kamden has a unique interest in laundry detergent and one of his teachers, Olivia Kool, found a way to capitalize on that passion and make life a little easier at home too.

miii3989

Mrs. Kool, Kamden & his rewards

“Kamden started off by earning ipad time which did not seem to be a big enough incentive for him. As his classroom teacher Mrs. Ryan and I got to know Kamden better, we quickly learned about his love for Gain laundry detergent. Students with autism often have high interest areas and Gain detergent is something that Kamden is passionate about and talks about on a daily basis. He has even gotten many teachers and students to switch to using Gain for their laundry. He can tell you everything you would ever need to know about laundry detergent and the different scents. When I noticed that the ipad time was not really an incentive for him, I started thinking about what could we do differently to help him have good days at school. One day, I asked him if he had a good day would he like to earn some Gain laundry detergent. His face lit up when I asked him this. The first couple of days I went out and img_3509-1bought laundry detergent and he was highly motivated to earn that reward. Mrs. Ryan and I definitely noticed a difference with Kamden when he was earning the laundry detergent.”

Kamden’s mom, Amanda, decided to continue the reward at home and was also buying Gain for Kamden, which was adding up for both mom and teacher! This fall Mrs. Kool got an idea: “I wrote a letter to Meijer and Procter & Gamble. In the letter, I told them that I was a special education teacher who had a 3rd grade student who was obsessed with Gain laundry detergent. I told them how he tells everyone that Gain is the best detergent because it “has a wonderful scent and makes you open the world of fragrance.” Mrs. Kool told the companies in her letter that Kamden earns ipad time to watch Gain commercials on YouTube and asked if they’d be willing to send detergent samples as his rewards.

img_3402-2-2

Kamden dressed as a washing machine for Halloween!

“About a month later I got an email from Michael Kadzban the Buyer for Laundry and Cleaning Supplies for Meijer. He told me that he and Todd Vishnauski from Procter and Gamble secured some Gain supplies for Kamden along with some other things for him. They personally wanted to come meet Kamden and drop off the goodies they got for him. Michael and Todd were amazing! They brought tons of Gain samples for Kamden as well as Gain t-shirts, notepads, water bottles, and an official certificate from the Gain team.”

img_3503Michael and Todd “were amazed at how well the students in Kamden’s class embraced Kamden’s passion for Gain detergent and how happy the students were to see the excitement in Kamden’s face when they came to their class.  Todd from P&G said it best when he told the class that the makers of Gain have a term for people who love their product. These people are called Gainiacs. That is what Kamden is, a true Gainiac.”

img_3507Amanda VanMaanen, Kamden’s mom is grateful for the support of the teachers and staff at Sandy Hill for their love and care for their family. “Kamden was thrilled to have Todd and Michael visit him in the classroom. He couldn’t stop grinning and talking about it constantly for a long time. He told every person he knew about it. I think it was wonderful to get his class involved. They were all so excited for Kamden and it made his love of detergents a little more relatable.  I think Kamden felt so proud and excited to spend a little part of the day sharing his favorite topic with everyone. The staff has been so supportive of his fixation, even sending pics of their detergent purchases.  Mrs. Kool went above and beyond to send out the request and to set this up for him! It certainly helped with our budget for supplying laundry detergent incentives for Kamden too. We are so proud to be a part of a school that truly cares for and supports our son!”

Kamden loves his teachers and friends and he really likes science. He says he loves all the subjects in school except math, which many of us can relate to. He thinks that Mrs. Kool is a good teacher because “she’s really nice and she does nice things for me like asking the guys [from P & G and Meijer] to come to school.  She’s a good listener and she likes laundry detergent too. She has a cool down corner that I really like.”

img_3493Sandy Hill principal, Jon Mroz, knows that Kamden’s story has already impacted the students in Kamden’s class and the entire school. “This story is important to share because Kamden is an amazing young guy, with a one-of-a-kind personality.  With the help and support of the Sandy Hill teachers, we have seen a tremendous amount of growth with Kamden in many areas over the years.  Kamden’s story has allowed other students an opportunity to understand that everyone has differences, and that we can accept those differences with an open mind and open heart.”  

Thank you Mrs Kool, Mrs Ryan, Mr Mroz and the many other teachers, staff members, and students that have gotten to know Kamden and supported him. Your love and encouragement of Kamden has made a huge difference for this amazing student and his family!

miii3982

#JPSReads!

1448499790-4841895-james_giant_peach_ticketsWhen Junior High theatre director, Holly Florian, chose James and the Giant Peach for this year’s winter performance fifth grade teachers, Michelle U’Ren knew that she wanted to read the classic story aloud to her class. She knew it would help them appreciate the show even more to be familiar with the story.

But it didn’t stay specific to Ms U’Ren’s class! It didn’t take long before a district-wide project was born! Other teachers were interested in reading the story to their classes as well and and soon, Holly, Michelle, and Jan Staley, media specialist, were organizing the first ever district-wide read aloud, which came to be known as JPS Reads!

All of the teachers are encouraged by the response so far. “The feedback from teachers, students, and parents has been really positive.  Perhaps the most exciting part is hearing the connections being made at home!  There are many stories of families discussing James and the Giant Peach during dinner and younger kids begging older siblings to tell them what happens next in the story.

ct3svpkw8aaapci

Story brainstorming in Mary Veldink’s 3rd grade Pinewood classroom

When Ms Florian was considering scripts for the junior high performance she was excited about the visual and production challenges posed by James and the Giant Peach. “[It] stood out to me right away as being a fantastic option – the story is so wonderful, and the stage version has many featured roles, which gives lots of students a chance to show off their performing skills. It will also be a technical challenge! Figuring out how to create a giant peach that rolls off the cliffs of Dover and into the Atlantic ocean is going to be a creative challenge for the entire production team.”

Not all teachers had a copy of the book but thanks to a grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation, those teachers were provided a copy. Even our Spanish Immersion classrooms are reading the story in Spanish! In order to empower teachers, weekly emails are sent to participants offering suggestions for activities and ways to connect with other teachers in the project.  Each individual teacher can choose which activities they would like to implement within their own classroom. Lori Barr, Pinewood 6th grade teacher, is engaging students’ writing skills by having them write blog posts with their thoughts and questions. Check out their Letters to Ms Florian here

If you have ever wondered if reading at home matters, it does! “Statistics have shown that a powerful predictor of reading success is having a parent who personally reads aloud to their child 5–7 days a week. Our community read aloud, JPS Reads, will hopefully ignite the joy of reading and the community bond it builds within the classroom family…the hope is that this will then be talked about and become part of our individual family habits also.”

Congratulations to all the teachers, students and families who participated in the first JPS Read Aloud! We can’t wait for the play this January!

csvp4lnwaaaukrr

 

*Photo courtesy of goldstar.com

Say “Hi” to New Teachers!

This year we welcomed 23 new staff members to the Jenison family! Here you can meet some of them and feel free to say “hi” in person when you cross paths!

annaflood


Anna Flood  |  Burlsey, 6th Grade

“I grew up in the area and have always heard amazing things about Jenison. As a new teacher to the district, I have noticed the strong community and support that surrounds education. I am excited to grow with my group of 6th grade students, and watch them use their abilities to be successful.”

 

mcelweeAlexa McElwee  |  Bursley Interventionist
“I have grown up in this community.  Living in Hudsonville, attending GVSU and now working in Jenison, I have seen this community from so many sides.  From being a child, to a student, and now as a educator.  This community stands behind you and support you in every way.  When I graduated the one thing I knew I wanted in the school I worked for was a huge community involvement.  When I accepted my position in Jenison, I knew I was going more than a community, I was joining a family.  Jenison is such an amazing school district who wants the best for the students and their families.

On the first day of school I was feeling like most students do when they walk in the door, nervous, anxious and excited.  I definitely had first day jitters.  I was nervous for joining a new team and for meeting new students who have never seen me before.  By the end of they day I was getting high fives and lots of hugs from all the Kindergartners as they walked by my room to head to the bus.  To see their faces light up each morning when they see me in the hall or working with them makes me so excited to see the relationships that are being formed.  This is going to be a great year.”

vandebergJosh VandeBerg  |  Sandy Hill, 4th Grade

“My family and I are very excited to return to the area!  My wife Amanda and I are from the area, but moved to Florida 9 years ago. We have 4 children Ben (10), Abigail (9), Hannah (6), and Levi (3).  All of our extended family lives in the area and my children are thrilled to live by their cousins.

I am a big believer of living in the community that I teach in.  Jenison is an amazing place to live and raise a family.  The schools are top-notch and we can’t imagine a better place to be. I am so excited for this school year because everyone that I work with truly cares about each other.  The district leaders, the team at Sandy Hill, and everyone I meet throughout the district is amazing. Jenison has a lot to offer its students.  I am currently involved in the robotic’s program and we have a blast using what we’ve learned in the classroom to solve a problem.

willieMaura Willie  |  Elementary Music

“I was drawn to JPS because of their excellence in music. I love how the district and community supports the arts in their schools. So far, I’m most excited for the year because of all of the collaboration I’ve seen. Everyone I’ve come into contact with has been eager to help each other and work together. ”

huizenga

Jenny Huizenga  |  High School Math
“I was drawn to JPS because my children attend JPS and I love the schools and the community.  I am excited to be teaching in the community where I live.  The staff and students are amazing at Jenison and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and get involved. “

ehlich

 

Bridget Ehlich  |  Bursley Elementary, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“I was drawn to JPS by the reputation it has in the Greater Grand Rapids area as forward educators. I am excited about the year because I have already felt welcomed by the community and can tell that this is a good place to be as an educator.”

morley
Dustin Morley  |  Junior High ELA
“I first heard about Jenison Public Schools while I attended Grand Valley State University ten years ago and heard nothing but good things about the district and community ever since. After moving from the Detroit area to West Michigan I was very excited when a long-term substitute position opened at Jenison Junior High. The building and district felt like home for me from the first interview for that position.  After being a long-term substitute for a year and a half, I couldn’t be happier to now be a full time teacher at Jenison Junior High School. I’m particularly looking forward to getting more involved with the school and community this year.”

nichols

Rachel Nichols  |  ECC Special Education

“I was looking for a district that wanted to everything possible to benefit their students. I talked to some friends and they all were so pleased with Jenison and what they are doing.  So far it has been great everyone has been so friendly and welcoming it has been an amazing start to 2016/2017 school year and I am excited to continue!!!”
annasiegel

Anna Siegel  |  Pinewood + Sandy Hill Special Education

“What drew me to JPS is the success of the district and the sense of community. I am in two different elementary buildings throughout the day this year, and so I am excited to interact with many different staff and students this year!”
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-59-08-am

Kristen Dantonio  |  Pinewood, 5th Grade

“I was drawn to Jenison because I was told that it was a district that cared about people. It is a district that puts relationships first and I knew that I wanted to be part of that. I am most excited to get to know my students and coworkers at Pinewood. It has been a great year so far and I am excited to see how those relationships will grow.”

cristinasalinas

Christina Salinas  |  Rosewood, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“The wonderful Jenison community and Spanish Immersion program drew me to JPS.  This year I am excited to see students continue to grow in their literacy skills in Spanish and English.  I am also excited to work with the supportive teachers and staff at Rosewood Elementary. I have learned so much from them already. Their dedication and passion for teaching is contagious!”

We’re so thankful for all of our teachers and all that they do for our students and families! Thank you to the new teachers for bringing your talents and passion to Jenison!

Summer Series: Student Writing Sample [6th grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

What Advice do you have for a young child? [Journal Entry]
By Emma Millin

Here’s a piece of advice for a young child who is still figuring out life:

downloadIf you be yourself, people might make fun of you. They might call you weird or give you dirty looks. But, you’ll just have to ignore those people. Being yourself is probably one of the best things you can do.
If you want to put paperclips in your hair, do it!
If you want to dance down the hallway, do it!
If you want to sing loudest in music class, even though the kid in front of you doesn’t like your voice, do it!
If you want to get an E on a test… well maybe you shouldn’t do that…
Be yourself, the best you you could ever be!”

Emma is a rising 7th grader at Jenison Junior High. This journal entry was selected by Emma’s 6th grade teacher, Ms Kendra King at Sandy Hill Elementary.

High School Girls Champion STEM for Elementary Students!

Pinewood

Peyton Benac with a Pinewood STEM student!

In the fall of 2014 Chemistry teacher Alice Putti had good reason to be impressed. She had been approached by two of her former students, sophomores at the time, who wanted to start a club for high school girls to visit Jenison Elementary schools and do STEM lessons. [STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]

Peyton Benac and Alex Stockholm wanted to take their interest and passion in STEM education to younger girls but they knew they’d need faculty support and financial assistance to do it. But their goal to inspire and encourage students who like the STEM subjects motivated them to move forward and thanks to a grant from the Jenison Education Foundation they were able to launch their group!

They began meeting with other interested high school girls to discuss possible lessons and experiments and getting their hands dirty as they made prototypes. “We tried to get activities from all the STEM fields like math puzzles and an engineering challenge.” says Peyton.  The group visited each elementary school once this fall and 4 – 6 high school students lead the groups of younger students which has varied from 10 – 30 girls!  When one young student was asked her favorite part of STEM she quickly replied “math” but after doing an experiment with conductive play-doh she said, “I like science too.”

Peyton has been involved with Junior High and High School Science Olympiad and she would like to pursue a career in science education. Speaking of her experience on the Science Olympiad team, “I remember being a seventh grade girl and wishing there were role models. The problem isn’t that girls are less interested or less talented but they try it once and it’s weird, none of their friends are there, it’s uncomfortable, there’s no role models. So we wanted to create a program that would open that door for them and make it seem a little less scary.”

Sandy Hill2

Sandy Hill Girls in STEM!

In preparation for their presentations the team watched “a lot of TED Talks from women who have succeeded in STEM fields talking about what they went through when they were younger. We read parts of “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg talking about finding success in male dominated fields  and I think that gave us the background to want to do this with the elementary girls. We thought that we could provide that role model and tell them that we passionately love STEM and we think you should too…”  Ultimately, the group would love to see more female students stick it out in Science Olympiad, Robotics , AP Computer Science, AP Calculus or AP Stats.

Mrs Putti says that “from the beginning I was incredibly impressed when they came to me with this idea, to have the vision and goals they had and I thought, not only do I want to be supportive of you because you’re my students, but your goals are incredibly mature goals.”  In Jenison High School there are “more women taking life science classes such as Earth science and biology rather than physics or chemistry. There are less women in math and computer science than there are in sciences.”  With the new focus on STEM education teachers are hopeful that these numbers will change.  “I think the fact that they are being introduced to it early that is important. When we talk to girls at our STEM club meetings there are a lot of them that are excited about STEM but I would guess that at that level  those kids would have been excited about those subjects anyway. Our goal is to keep them excited.”

Peyton wants to encourage parents and other adults invested in girls’ lives to be thoughtful in how they are encouraged. “I think that everyone should be conscious of the passion that these young girls have for STEM and especially if they have young daughters to see that as kind of the best thing.”

If you’d like to encourage an elementary girl to attend the next STEM meeting please check out this flyer for the details and where to sign up!

Or if you’d like to find out how you can contribute to continuing the work of the Girls STEM Club in Jenison next year please contact Alice Putti:  aputti@jpsonline.org for information on their forthcoming Go Fund Me account!

Thank you to Alex, Peyton and Mrs Putti for being the role models our young girls need! We are so grateful that you pursued your goals and are investing in our future STEM leaders!

Pinewood3

Pinewood Girls try to crack the code with a little encouragement from their high school mentor!

Rosewood2

Rosewood Girls in STEM hard at work!

Pinewood2

Pinewood girls conquer the engineering challenge!

Sandy Hill Students Give Back During the Holidays!

MIII0543

This week the Student Council at Sandy Hill Elementary, aided by their fellow students, brightened the holiday season and break for many Jenison families!  For the past few weeks students have been bringing in donations that were packed up this week and will be distributed by student council representatives throughout the community.

MIII0550Student Council leader, Deb Streelman- Dismukes, explains, “This is a project that is promoted by our Student Council. Members are the represented voice for each class [2 student per classroom]. They take a leadership position in this project and their job is to encourage classmates to donate certain food and household cleaning items toward the baskets. They make announcements in front of the class after Student Council meetings in order to encourage their own class. The week before we deliver the baskets, students sort donations into groups.”

The contents of the baskets vary but usually include items such as canned vegetables, potatoes, butter or margarine, a fresh ham, milk, boxed desert, and other assorted boxed or canned foods. In the past they have also included cleaning supplies.
Sandy Hill has been playing this important role in the community for the past fifteen years when the number of local families receiving Title One benefits and free and reduced lunches increased. “Our students are proud to be helping. They do a great job sharing the information with their classes and they learn a valuable lesson in giving that will be with and influence them as they grow older.”
To protect recipients confidentiality student council reps are the only people in contact. “We drop them off to houses. Families are always thankful and excited to get a meal for the holidays, plus goodies for over the break!”

Principal Jonathan Mroz is proud of the work that Sandy Hill students do to benefit their community and agrees that the project is about more than the immedate act of giving. “Our Holiday Baskets have been a great way for our Sandy Hill community to support one another.  This is the season of giving, and this project has provided us the opportunity to give back directly to our students and families in a way for them to not worry about something that many of us take for granted.  This project allows us to meet the needs others, but also have our students see that importance of helping others.”

“We think it important to contribute to our immediate community & have changed both this project and hat/mitten/sock tree to help our school. It is great to see the impact our help has on the kids and their families!” – Deb Streelman – Dismukes
MIII0499
MIII0512
MIII0529
MIII0564