JJHS Welcomes New Teachers

The Jenison Junior High is grateful to welcome new classroom leaders with exceptional talent and specialized expertise.

Tom Daller

Tom Daller has joined the Jenison Junior High Applied Technology department as Industrial Arts Teacher. Coming from Belding High School where he taught for 28 years; Tom taught Woodworking, Industrial Tech / Construction, CAD, and was involved in Robotics and Baseball.

He is eager to exercise creativity while he shapes the program in our beautiful facility. The welcoming attitude of staff and willingness of students to get to take the time to get to know him has really made him feel at home.     

If he wasn’t a teacher, Tom would find himself at the ballfields full time coaching baseball. He is now assisting his son after a 28 year head coach career. Some of Tom’s other hobbies include construction, hunting, antique auto restoration, relaxing at his cabin and family time with his 6 kids.    


Cristina Schreur

We welcome (back) Cristina Schreur as Social Studies teacher and 8th Grade Spanish Comparative Language to Spanish Immersion students. She’s not exactly new to Jenison as she was previously a 6th grade Spanish Immersion teacher at Rosewood Elementary before moving out of state with her husband.

After a few years in Colorado, and welcoming their son, they decided they wanted to return to the area. They looked forward to being closer to their family and they already knew the Jenison Public Schools and Immersion Program were communities they wanted their family to be a part of. She enjoys outdoor hobbies, Salsa/Latin Dancing, and Yoga.

Hola! from Rosewood 1st Grade Spanish Immersion

Spanish Immersion is one of the most unique offerings in Jenison Public Schools! As a reminder, we have one class of each grade, K – 6 at both Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools and they are full and bustling with Spanish speakers young and old!

Rosewood 1st grade Spanish Immersion teacher, Anna Evans, has seen her students grow in their language skills since the beginning of the year and is already looking forward to how much more comfortable they will continue to be with a second language. When students begin the Spanish Immersion program in Kindergarten, teachers use English in the beginning of the year and slowly transition to a mix of Spanish and English. However, when they walk in the door of their first grade classroom, they only hear Spanish from their teachers. “The students themselves are allowed to use English for the first half of the year. ” In January, the first graders will participate in the ceremony called “Crossing the Bridge” where they cross an actual bridge as a representation of full immersion in the language. “From that point on, the students are only allowed to use Spanish even with their peers. Moving on to second grade, the curriculum challenges grow, as they do every year. Students will be expected to be able to fully communicate their thoughts and needs in Spanish.”

Ms Evans is thankful for the teamwork and mutual support within the SI program in Jenison. There is a lot of additional work that must be done to correctly educate students in this program. “Just because a resource is in Spanish, does not mean that it was designed for an immersion student, in fact, most resources in Spanish are created for native Spanish speakers. This means that as teachers, we must adapt nearly everything that we find to best suit our students’ needs. For example, with a science lesson, we cannot just go headfirst into a unit on the life cycle of a frog, we need to first create our own lessons prior to the unit to teach vocabulary and build their language skills to be able to be successful. This makes for a lot of additional planning for us to meet the state requirements, but when you love teaching and especially immersion, it is fun to come up with new ways to do things. “

And, while we all know that learning a second language is easier when you’re young, there are, of course, still challenges. “The biggest challenge for everyone is really committing yourself to not using English. It is a mental choice. It is hard to explain to a six year old why it is important that they are in Spanish immersion and to motivate them to take the more difficult path of using Spanish all the time rather than giving up when it gets hard and quick using English to say what they need to say.” And if you think these first graders are only using simple Spanish to get by during the day, think again! “I have seen my students reading and oral language take off just from hearing me speak and read. In their speech, I hear them using difficult phrases and using them properly! One thing that is quite difficult so early on in their language learning is managing past tense verbs and I am hearing them use these correctly. It is very exciting!”

Parents who have children in Spanish Immersion have a global mindset and outward perspective that young children don’t have yet, but Spanish immersion is extremely beneficial to students. “By six and seven years old, they can already speak, read and write in Spanish! They have such an incredible opportunity here that will not only benefit themselves in the future, but, others. As teachers, our hope is that they will use these skills when they are older to benefit others and to make the world a better place. With a second language, they will be able to interact with more people, learn more about other cultures and be able to relate to and understand other types of people easily and with compassion.”

Spanish Immersion students are learning in a second language but they are also learning their grade-level benchmarks. Sometimes, it is believed or assumed that Spanish Immersion students fall behind in their English skills, but this is not the case. “There are many studies to show and I see the evidence in my own classes every year that students learning in a second language unconsciously transfer their understanding from their second language to their native language. I like to ask people this question: If a student can explain a math concept, an author’s purpose, or a scientific proof in Spanish, how much more capable is that student to explain it in English? They are learning many skills in Spanish and they are able to use those skills in English. In first grade, the most growth that I see is in reading.

Every year parents are amazed by their child’s progress in English reading at home, they are seeing their child read in English even though no one has ever formally taught them how. This is because they learn strategies to read in Spanish at school and they turn around and use those strategies to read in English at home. As our program has grown, we have been able to see and compare state test scores from students in Spanish immersion and students in English classrooms and our students do remarkably well in comparison to their peers who have had English training throughout their education. Jenison has a very strong program and the teachers and staff within this program make it even better.”

¡Gracias, Maestra Evans por la increíble educación que le brinda a algunos de nuestros alumnos más pequeños! ¡Estamos agradecidos por usted y su pasión y dedicación!*


Writing prompt: “If you had a superpower, what would be be?”

*Thank you Ms Evans for the amazing education you are providing some of our youngest learners! We are thankful for you and your passion and dedication!

Groundbreaking Celebration for New School!

Last Monday evening, not even the gray skies couldn’t keep spirits down as the Board of Education and Superintendent, Tom TenBrink, broke ground on the new school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

The Early Childhood Center [ECC] and Spanish Immersion program currently housed at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools, will both be housed in the new building located near the corner of Baldwin and 28th Ave.

The new school – Jenison’s first new school since 1970! – will be a two-story, LEED certified building with 36 classrooms. It will also include modern security features as well as, assisted listening systems in each classroom, two playgrounds and two full-size ball fields.

Becky Steele, Rosewood and Bursley STEM teacher was on hand to capture student Samantha Eriks tell those in attendance what the new school means to hear and future Spanish Immersion students. Becky says, “Samantha has been a Bursley Spanish Immersion student since kindergarten, and is headed off to the Junior High in the fall.  Her fluency [as well as her poise, confidence, positivity, kind and helpful heart…the list goes on and on] certainly speaks volumes about the quality of the language immersion education that students get in JPS.”

This is a very exciting season for JPS and we can’t wait to monitor the progress and celebrate when our students and staff are filling the halls!

Rosewood Principal, Lloyd Gingerich, along with SI teachers!

ECC Principal, Lee Westerveldt, joined by two ECC students

Spanish Immersion Opens Doors to New Cultures and Possibilities!

The Spanish Immersion teachers at Bursley Elementary are going above and beyond to help their students incorporate their growing knowledge of the Spanish language into many aspects of their lives. Check out these four classes and their amazing lessons!


Cover Artist Anijah Huffman


One of the authors, Owen Cole

1st Grade, Shelly Giron

This fall, Ms. Giron’s class decided to publish their own book about their favorite animals and they went one step farther by not writing or printing it bilingually but only in Spanish! The class brainstormed lots of different animals, the reasons they like them and then wrote rough drafts and polished off original illustrations. With the help of Mr. Tamayo, the class parapro, their final drafts were completed! 29 copies of the book were ordered and everyone had a great time writing their first book together.

20161123_1120593rd Grade, Kristin DeYoung

Students across third grade created welcome cards and posters to welcome in refugees from other countries [coordinated through Bethany Christian Services] – our Spanish Immersion students created a Spanish version which will be used for Spanish speaking refugees who come in to make them feel welcome in a new country. Ms. DeYoung explained to her students that when she moved to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, natives of those countries extended this welcome to her and it helped her feel less nervous in a new place. 20161123_111935

We also created Spanish friendship cards/holiday cards to share with an orphanage in Mexico [where Ms DeYoung used to live and volunteer] to bring holiday cheer and kindness to the children living in the orphanage.  “Our Spanish Immersion students were eager to use their bilingual skills to spread love and kindness to other Spanish speakers both locally and abroad.  I’m so proud of them for using their skills to make the world a better place.”

image-812524th Grade, Kelli Darciaimage-81333

In Ms Darica’s class students work hard to incorporate their Spanish skills into all aspects of their curriculum.  They each have Spanish speaking pen pals that require them to write letters [a lost art?!] as well as read and translate the letters they receive. They are also learning and applying economic skills in Spanish as well!

5th Grade, Rebecca Chicklon

Students responded to the following quote: “¿Cuales puertas te abre el programa de inmersión?” / “What doors does the Spanish Immersion program open for you?” Students searched for their favorite doors from Spain and created GoogleDocs showcasing these doors and a paragraph answering the prompt. Check out a few of them below! [What a great way to practice your Spanish!]

capturePuertas de inmersión by Dane DeVries

Cuando hace inmersión hay muchas oportunidades para la vida real, Como: empleo,ayudando al mundo.

Si usa bien es un super poder y solo toma la tiempo de escuela. Yo hice porque quería y porque,y si no yo voy a ser en sandy hill. A mi me encanta a la inmersión porque es un reto para mi cerebro para saber más que un idioma.

Las puertas de inmersióncapture2

En la programa de inmersión   abra muchicimas puertas.  una puerta que abre es que tenemos un buen chanse de ir a un universidad más bueno .      

Podemos viajar a lugares hisbanoblantes y ayudar y mejorar el mundo. Tambien tenemos mas opciones de donde podemos trabaja y que trabajos queremos . Y si más tade queremos aprender otra lenguage sea mucho más facil . más tarde en la vida esta programa. Es cuando tenemos trabajo y tenemos familia vamos a estar muy felizes porque hicimos una  y  mejor vida que muchas personas no tienen. Entonces niños y niñas y digan a sus amigos, mamás y papás digan a sus amigo y abuelos y abuelas sigue diciendo a todos  sobre la programa de inmersión de español.

Thank you to our amazing Spanish Immersion teachers in Jenison for helping our students be successful in so many interesting ways! We’re proud of our students who challenge themselves every day by learning in a second language!


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.


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!



*Photo courtesy of goldstar.com

Summer Series: Student Writing Samples [5th 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!

Educational Rise or Fall?
By: Samantha Eriks
[Samantha accepted the challenge in her Spanish Immersion Class to submit a fully translated essay. For the English version, scroll down, or, if you’re as smart as a 5th grader, check out her writing in Spanish!]

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 2.40.46 PM

¿Educación, subiendo o bajando?

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

¿Alguna vez has pensado en los leyes de educación? La mayoría de estos leyes no tiene el aporte de los maestros, quienes son las personas que están afectados lo más. Algunas veces, los leyes no están creados en la mejor manera. Los legisladores educativos están aquí para mejorar escuelas pero ¿esto es que está realmente pasando?

¿Alguna vez has pensado en cuánto tiempo tu maestra trabaja para hacer lecciones, enseñar y hacer cosas extras para tu clase? La paga que reciben debe ser elevado. Hoy de partir de ser maestro recibe $40.255 (salario de Jenison de 2010 encontrado por Googling) pero esto puede cambiar depende en la escuela, el tamaño de clase y cuantos años el maestro ha trabajado. Si los creadores de los leyes educativos estuvieron maestros primeros, entenderán todo el trabajo que el maestro hace y que deben recibir más dinero por su trabajo. Tristemente, porque maestros no están pagados correctamente para su trabajo menos personas ven a querer enseñar.

Hay otro ley educacional creado sobre la lectura de tercer grado que sería mejor con la ayuda de maestros. Aquí es una explicación de Jonathan Oostiing’s desde mlive: “La propuesta de lectura de tercer grado, que complementa un empuje literario de Gov. Rick Snyder, prohibía escuelas para promover a niños a cuarto grado si están un grado detrás en lectura. Sería excepciones, y niños que tenían dificultades en la lectura podían tomar otras clases en otros sujetos” (Oostiing).

Piensa en estas leyes y qué efecto van a crear. Por uno, imagina estos niños que tienen un tiempo difícil en la lectura, y cómo este cambio afectaría a ellos socialmente, sería muy difícil estar un grado mas atrás solo porque no podías leer. Esto también va a afectar estrés de intervención. Esto va a causar más presión en grados más bajos para asegurar que todos están en el nivel correcto. Si los creadores de estos leyes fueran maestros, o si tuvieran la ayuda de maestros, tal vez entenderían que están creando con esta ley. No estoy diciendo que este problema no debe estar abordado, pero definitivamente no debe estar abordado en esta manera.

Otra cosa para pensar sobre es que muchos políticos que especializan en la educación no han sido maestros. Si este grupo de personas tenía experiencia de ser maestro sabrían qué escuelas necesitan y que no. Sería muy bueno tener personas que entienden que pasa en un salón de clase, como cuánto esfuerzo maestros ponen o la cantidad de énfasis en resultados de prueba. También sabrían qué leyes deben ser mayor prioridad y que tienen sentido estar pasados. También sabrían que leyes no necesitaremos en escuelas.

Creadores de leyes educativas deben recibir aporte de maestros o deben ser maestros primero. Las leyes de educación no están pensados al mejor posibilidad que podían hacer. También, maestros deben recibir una paga mejor. Escuela es una parte muy importante en una vida de un niño y todos deben recibir la mejor educación que pueden. ¿Qué está pasando con la educación? ¿Está mejorando o las leyes que están creados no realmente están creados a la mejor posibilidad?

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire” – William Butler Yeats

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Samantha Eriks is a rising 6th grader at Bursley Elementary where she is in the Spanish Immersion program. Some of her interests are playing piano, learning new things, reading, playing basketball, singing, writing, and anything to do with technology!  She looks forward to learning new things and spending time with her friends in 6th grade. Her writing sample was chosen by her 5th grade teacher, Rebecca Chicklon, as part of a lesson in persuasive writing.

Educational Rise or Fall?
By: Samantha Eriks

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you ever thought about what educational laws are like? Most laws never even have the input of teachers, who are the people that seem to get affected the most. Sometimes the laws are not created in the best way possible because there is not the input of teachers being incorporated. Educational lawmakers are here to help make schools better, but are they?

Have you ever realized how hard your teacher works to make lesson plans, teach, and do extra stuff for your class? Well the pay they get should be raised. Todays starting teacher makes $40,255 (Jenison salaries from 2010 found from Googling) but this can also change depending on what type of school it is, class sizes, and how long the teacher has been teaching. If the law creators were teachers, they would understand all the work teachers put in and that teachers deserve a better pay. Also, this will sadly mean that less people will want to become teachers because of the starting pay.

There is another educational law created about third grade reading that could have been better with teacher input. Here is Jonathan Oosting’s explanation from mlive: “The third-grade reading proposal, which complements a literacy push by Gov. Rick Snyder, would prohibit schools from promoting students to fourth grade if they are at least a full grade-level behind in reading. There would be exemptions, however, and struggling readers could take some fourth grade classes in other subject areas.” Think about this law and all the effects it would create. For one, imagine the kids who struggle in reading, and how being in third grade would also affect them socially, it would be very hard to be held back a grade just because you could not read. This will also affect third grade intervention stress. Causing more pressure in lower grades to make sure everyone is reading at the right level. If the creators of these laws were teachers, or had teacher input, they might actually realize what they are creating with this law. I am not saying that this issue should not be addressed, but it definitely should not be addressed in this way.

Another thing to think about is that most politicians who specialize in education have not been teachers. If this group of people had experience as teachers they would know what schools need and what is not needed. It would be very nice to have people who understand what happens in a classroom, like how much effort teachers put in or the amount of emphasis on test data. They also would know which laws should be at a higher priority and make sense to get passed, and which ones are not needed. Educational lawmakers should get the input of teachers or be teachers first. Educational laws are not always thought through to the full extent they could be. Also, teachers deserve a better pay. School is a very important part of kids’ lives, so everyone should be given the best education possible. What is happening with education? Is it becoming better, or are the laws that are being created not being fully thought through?

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire” – William Butler Yeats

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Jenison’s Spanish Immersion Program

If there were one thing I could instantly add to my skill set, without a doubt it would be the ability to speak another language. In our evolving global marketplace, effortlessly connecting with others from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities would be a priceless tool.

And while I may not know domingo from julio, I’m so proud to say that our Spanish Immersion students DO! Jenison kindergarten and first grade students at Bursley and Rosewood Elementary Schools spend their days listening, speaking, and learning in Spanish. And from what we’re hearing, they are bilinguals in the making!

Keri, mom to first-grader Alex, recently shared a story of her family’s mini-vacation to Chicago, where they ate at a Mexican restaurant. When the waiter (a native speaker) approached their table, he greeted the family with a friendly “Hola“; to everyone’s surprise, was answered by an eager six year-old.

Keri saw her son bloom when put in a real-life situation where Spanish was spoken. She heard him string sentences together and wondered if he could possibly be making any sense! The waiter assured her of his gains when commenting that he “wouldn’t have known the difference from a kid who grew up in a Spanish-speaking country.”

Mrs. Alferink works with a small group at Rosewood El.

Having started in 2010, Jenison’s Spanish Immersion program has grown to over 100 participating students and continually has a waiting list for interested families. Our reputation precedes us and we enjoy a diverse group of children attending as “school of choice” students.

With plans to add additional grades each year, JPS continues to demonstrate that we are preparing young minds for a world that is constantly growing and changing. Spanish Immersion is just one way that we are pushing boundaries and opening possibilities. 

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If you are interested in our program, please contact either of our participating elementary schools for more information:

Bursley Elementary: 616.457.220

Rosewood Elementary: 616.669.0011