Bond Dollars Hit the Road!

miii9763Last May the Jenison community voted in support of a Bond proposal that allows the district to keep up with the growing needs of our students, teachers and community. One of those very important [and practical!] needs was replacing ten buses in the current fleet which took place this summer.

According to Kip Medendorp, Director of Transportation, buses should be replaced every fifteen years to keep up to date on mechanics as well as gas mileage. However, with multiple needs facing the department, new buses had been put on hold until the recent Bond vote when the purchase of ten buses was able to move forward.

miii9745The old buses were sold at auction in July – the oldest of which was 23 years old [maybe some of our Jenison parents used to ride those Jenison buses?] and all of them experiencing some rust issues. The new buses are already out on the road and Mr. Medendorp says that both drivers and students are happy to have them and consistently show respect to the new equipment. One important safety feature on the new buses is a “sleeping student alarm” that requires drivers to walk to the back of the bus and push a button confirming the bus is empty within a certain amount of time. This, in addition, to the department’s policy to check for remaining students will continue to keep our students safe!

miii9782The transportation department isn’t stopping at new buses, though! The bond vote will also provide a new radio system and equip all buses with a GPS system. This will allow for the department to be able to locate a bus when needed. Additionally, they are planning to purchase tablets to be given to substitute drivers which will detail the route and each stop, replacing a print out that subs use now.  Finally, they are looking into putting cameras on every bus and joining an app for parents called, “Where’s my bus?” that would allow parents to locate their child’s bus at any time.

In accordance with the overall goal of improved communication, the department provides many online resources. You can visit their website here for information and complete their Transportation Request of Change form here. This school year, over 500 parents completed the form online saving the team and parents time!

Through the support of the community and the dedicated team in the Transportation Department, the whole student is honored, served well and kept safe from the beginning of their day to the end, “We try to make all the kids happy; we’re the first ones they see in the morning, the last in the afternoon and it’s a source of pride for our drivers to contribute to the students’ experience”.

miii9767-2Thank you to the Jenison community for your Bond support and to our bus drivers and transportation staff for keeping our kids safe! Don’t be shy when you see the Jenison buses on the road, give them a wave to say you’re thankful too!

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JPS Teachers Invest in Technology

With an “app” for just about anything, Jenison teachers are learning that the best “app” for this upcoming school year is spending the day intensively training for a new year with new technology.

To do that, we welcomed Mr. Andy Losik, Apple Distinguished Educator and 2009 Michigan Tech-Educator of the Year, to kick off our professional development yesterday. His keynote challenged teachers to consider the many varied ways that technology can hook, engage, and keep kids focused on exploring and learning. With the early morning charge still echoing in the hallways, teachers left with purpose and embarked on the next frontier: a full day of pull-out seminars with literally dozens of topics from which to choose.

Learning opportunities during the pull-outs were staffed almost exclusively by Jenison teachers instructing their colleagues. They included: Creating Presentations on Your iPad, Student Presentations with Pizzazz, Creating Student ePubs, Blogging Made Simple, I Love My Document Camera, Screencasting Tools to Benefit Students, and many more!

All of this work comes on the heels of the district expanding its technological reach with the purchase of several hundred iPads for teachers and staff. Funds from the recently passed Bond Issue made the expansion possible, and teachers are thrilled to incorporate powerful tools into their teaching.

“We recognize that for most of our students, technology like smart phones and iPads are part of everyday life. Now, instead of separating kids from their devices when they walk through the doors, we’re empowering teachers to embrace technology and use it to their advantage,” said Dr. Brandon Graham, principal of Jenison High School.

We salute our amazing teachers for modeling what it looks like to be lifelong, eager learners. The students of Jenison Public Schools will be richly rewarded by your hard work and willingness to learn!

New Fine Arts Center On Track for December 2013 Completion

Brick by brick and nail by nail, the dreams of this community are being raised in grand fashion, pushing against the sky with regal determination. Slated for completion in December 2013, the Performing Arts Center (also referred to as the Fine Arts Center) is on-schedule and looking fantastic.

Boasting a 1,200 seat auditorium, dressing rooms, scene shop, multi-purpose room for smaller performances, and a whopping 90 foot stage, the Performing Arts Center will truly be a community gathering space where our students can shine with room enough to fully spread their wings.

In addition to the performance-related venues, this building will also become the new home for Superintendent Tom TenBrink and Jenison’s team of central office administrators. Parking will be accommodated in a new lot that will be tucked between the junior and senior high schools, as well as additional room south of the junior high and adjacent to the tennis courts.

 

Jenison’s Performing Arts Center will truly be a venue that will invite celebration. We eagerly await the evening when teachers, parents, students, and community members will be able to sit in the glow of a dimly-lit auditorium and watch the magic of theater and music unfold.

New Buses Have Arrived!

As 2011 came to a close and many of you sat near twinkling trees opening new sweaters and ties, Jenison Public Schools opened the doors on a fleet of new, state-of-the-art school buses purchased with your bond dollars.

These buses join 30 existing others and are equipped with the finest technology available: power doors and complete undercarriages for equipment storage (think sports teams and field trips). They also boast rear engines which allow our drivers to better hear students inside the bus, as well as provide a tighter turning radius for city driving. Our new buses also meet all EPA standards for air quality and pollution control, helping us model environmental stewardship for our community.

Finally, we are proud to share that our entire fleet earned a 100% safety rating from the Michigan State Police this year, ensuring that Jenison kids are as well protected as possible while they’re being transported to and from school.

We feel so fortunate to be able to maintain our buses and retire those that have served their time well; furthermore, we know that we have them because you, our Jenison community, has stepped up and said YES to your public school system. Thank you for allowing us to use your bond dollars well!