West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for April 2019

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Pedro Chuchoque

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

Every Tuesday throughout the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight one of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and teach children how to SHINE and RISE UP to their God-given potential. They shepherd the WMCS students to GROW as Christians and default to leaning on ALWAYS CHRIST. It’s a teacher’s goal to encourage every student to LOVE. LEARN. LEAD.

Celebrating Pedro Chuchoque of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Pedro Chuchoque became part of the FCS faculty in 2017 and teaches all subjects of second-grade Spanish Immersion. 

He studied graphic design in college in Bogota, Colombia before moving to Costa Rica for two years, where he met his Michigander wife. 
 
Pedro relocated to Michigan and attended Eastern Gateway Community College. Before coming to FCS, he worked as a paraprofessional at Rockford Public Schools.  He plans to continue his education in the future.
Pedro and Amanda smiling selfie with bandanas on their heads

Pedro and his lovely bride Amanda!

Pedro explains his journey into Christian education as divine. He shares that he was “guided by God” who led him to FCS when he was at a public school in a different position.  He followed a prompting to contact the principal at FCS, and after talking with him, he was curious to learn more. 

Pedro visited FCS, saw a lot of great things but specifically loved how students had the opportunity to learn more about the Bible in the classroom.  He made the transition and “feels really blessed to be part of this great school.” 

Pedro and his wife Amanda have four children; Giovanni 4, Malekai 8, Zahara 10, and Camryn 16.

Family selfie in front of forest

Giovanni, 4, wife Amanda, Pedro, Malekai, 8, Zahara, 10, and Camryn, 16, (pictured right to left).

They love to have fun as a family, spend time with each other and do everything together! 

group photo in front of Ark Encounter

The Chochuque’s experience Ark Encounter!

Pedro takes family selfie outside in a wood bridge

Family time in the great outdoors!

family photo in front park sign

More family adventures!

Everyone at FCS and all of us at WMCS are grateful for his wonderful contribution!

Q & A with Pedro

1. What’s something fun that most people do not know about you? 

This year I was nominated for the WGVU Cool Teacher Contest by my 2nd grade Spanish Immersion student Mercedes (pictured below). Last week I found out that I was a “Cool Teacher”  winner! What an honor and what fun for my students! I was really surprised when I received the news about both the nomination and the win — I was deeply touched.

The TV station came to our school to shoot some video and do some interviews, which was exciting for the students to experience. They are also are going to throw our class a congratulatory party so we look forward to the fiesta! It was a great experience, I think they will remember that moment for the rest of their lives.  We can’t wait to see the segment air on TV! 

2.   How specifically has the Lord gifted you?

The Lord helps me in my work by giving me the encouragement, energy and great support from family and friends to make everything possible.  If you believe in yourself, with God by your side everything is possible!

If you believe in yourself, with God by your side everything is possible!

Happy Chochoque faces

Happy Chochoque faces

3. What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

To see the students’ progress is #1.

But the family support and their trust in me to help and teach their children is a very, very close second!

Pedro and students with funny red and link fake lip kazoos in their mouths

Pedro and his students having fun while learning!

4. What’s your favorite drink?

Coca-cola!

 

 
As a beloved faculty member, Pedro is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Pedro and the amazing Kingdom work he does at FCS.

Pedro, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

 

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian(PK-6), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), New Era Christian (PK-8) and Western Michigan Christian (7-12).

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality, PK-12 Christian education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, our schools collaborate to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian education in West Michigan.

 

 

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WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Debbie Braak

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

Every Tuesday throughout the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight one of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and teach children how to SHINE and RISE UP to their God-given potential. They shepherd the WMCS students to GROW as Christians and default to leaning on ALWAYS CHRIST. It’s a teacher’s goal to encourage every student to LOVE. LEARN. LEAD.

Celebrating Debbie Braak of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Debbie Braak began teaching at New Era Christian School in September of 2015.  She has twenty plus years teaching under her belt with much of it spent at Grand Haven Christian.  To prepare her for her teaching career, she received a B.A. in Elementary Education with a Language Arts composite minor from Hope College.head_shot_Deb_Braak

Deb grew up in Portage and attended Kalamazoo Christian. She has been married to her husband Dan for twenty-five years and they have two children who attended Grand Haven Christian School PK-8th grade. Sam is a freshman at Calvin College and Audrey is a sophomore at Western Michigan Christian High School. 

“I love teaching in a Christian school where God is at the center of everything we do. I love watching these young children grow spiritually as they grow in their faith and love for Jesus and for each other,” shares Deb.

Debbie was made for this role as a Christian education teacher and she is so very gifted! 

Q & A w/ Debbie:

1. What’s your favorite teaching moment(s) to date? Tell us the story.

In my classroom, I use a variety of loose parts from gems and jewels to plank boards. One day a bunch of 3-year-olds were playing with cars and they wanted to make ramps. They got out the wood planks, set them up against the chair and they had a ramp. They happily zoomed their cars down the ramp to see whose car could go the furthest.

One little boy went over to where we keep the loose parts and found an empty tape roll and brought it over to the ramp. He proceeded to roll the tape roll down the ramp and to his amazement it rolled all the way across the room. He came running up and said to me, “ I just had the best idea about how to use the ramp. Come and I will show you my great idea!” He was so proud of himself for figuring out a new use for the ramp. 

This may not seem like a great teaching moment.  In preschool, when children explore and discover how different things work, and figure it out on their own, it is a victory and the overall purpose of loose parts play.

New Era Christian School

 

2. What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

I love to travel!  One of my all-time favorite vacations was taken after college when I went to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. 

3.   What do you love most about your job and why? 

I honestly love everything about my job. The preschoolers are so fun to teach and there are never two days exactly the same. One of my favorite things is my outdoor learning space. Seeing the children play in nature, explore and discover the world that God created is such a blessing. Watching them play in the mud kitchen or working together to figure out how to ride a cable drum like a horse and not fall off is so rewarding. I feel very fortunate to be able to provide this type of education for my preschoolers.

I honestly love everything about my job. The preschoolers are so fun to teach and there are never two days exactly the same.

children_climbing_on_wood_palette_outside

Deb’s students during Outdoor Learning at NEC.

4. What’s the best part of your day?

The best part of my day is our Bible time and the amazing questions these little people ask. They have so much love for Jesus in their hearts.

They have so much love for Jesus in their hearts.

Audrey_and_Sam_Braak

Deb’s kids Audrey, a sophomore at WMC and Sam Braak, a freshman at Calvin.

5. How specifically has the Lord gifted you as an individual and how does that help you as a teacher?

God has given me the gift being young at heart and also very patient. I love to play with my preschoolers and get messy right along with them. I also am very understanding of this age group.  I am able to relate to them and comfort them when they are upset and help them make good choices in the room. I always tell my parents that in preschool you never know what will happen and you need to be flexible and be able to change an activity very quickly if something is not working. 

God has given me the gift being young at heart and also very patient. I love to play with my preschoolers and get messy right along with them.

little_girl_in-pink_playing_in_outdoor_kitchen

Outdoor Learning at NEC

6. What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage? 

Cherry Coke. Not just any cherry coke. It has to be coke made with grenadine. That is the best!!

can_of_cherry_coke

7.   What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

One of the things I am most grateful for is the wonderful parents of the students!  They support the things we do in the classroom and do not mind if their child comes home covered in paint or mud. I am also grateful for our principal, Phil Morse, who is super supportive of my passion for outdoor learning and allows me to grow this program. 
 
One of the things I am most grateful for is the wonderful parents of the students!  They support the things we do in the classroom and do not mind if their child comes home covered in paint or mud.
child_playing_in_garden_by _ence

Outdoor Learning in the “Sound Garden.”

As a beloved faculty member, Deb is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Deb and the amazing Kingdom work she does at NEC.

Deb, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian(PK-6), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), New Era Christian (PK-8) and Western Michigan Christian (7-12).

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality, PK-12 Christian education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, our schools collaborate to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian education in West Michigan.

Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Muskegon Christian School’s Erin Studer

WMCS Teachers are the BEST!

Teacher Tuesday Spotlights Extraordinary Faculty

CONGRATULATIONS Erin!

Every Tuesday throughout the school year, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight some of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and teach children how to SHINE and RISE UP to their God-given potential. They shepherd the WMCS students to GROW as Christians and default to leaning on ALWAYS CHRIST. It’s a teacher’s goal to encourage every student to LOVE. LEARN. LEAD.

Celebrating Erin Studer of Muskegon Christian School (PK-6)

The 2018-19 school year marked Erin Studer’s second year at Muskegon Christian School as a 3rd grade Spanish Immersion teacher. She is a third generation graduate of MCS and attended MCS as a child from Pre-K through the 8th grade (before the school shifted to a PK-6th-grade model). After MCS she attended and graduated from Western Michigan Christian (WMC) High School.

She attended Calvin College as an Education and Spanish major and met her husband Nathan there as well.   In the summer before her senior year at Calvin, she lived abroad with a host family in Argentina for a month and took several excursions including one to Uruguay.  She hopes to someday travel with her husband to other countries to get more stamps in her passport!

Erin and Nathan have 4 children, three of whom attend MCS currently. Her son Kyler is in SI 4th grade, daughter Lena is in SI 1st grade, son Westin is in SI PreK and son Jax will be starting MCS preschool when he is old enough!

Q & A w/ Erin

Q: What do you love most about your job and why?

A: The thing that I LOVE the MOST about my job is being able to teach through my Christian worldview!  Something that I tended to shy away from in school was talking about “my faith.” I always wanted to teach in a public school to show my student’s Christ’s love not necessarily teach it!

two-shot of Erin and her husband

Erin and her husband Nathan.

MCS-Spanish-Immersion-logo

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: The absolute BEST part of my day is who I get to share it with!  I was blessed in coming to MCS (after almost giving up teaching all together) and having my oldest son in my class.  This year though I don’t have any of my own children in my class but I can still check up on them throughout the day!

Erin's-four-kids

Kari’s kids: Kyler, Jax, Lena and Westin.

Q: How specifically has the Lord gifted you as an individual and how does that help you as a teacher? 

A: The LORD has gifted me as an individual with the gift of creativity. Sometimes I have to think of on-the-spot lessons that will make connections for students, other times I spend months planning and preparing to help lead the whole school in a praise service!

The LORD has gifted me as an individual with the gift of creativity. Sometimes I have to think of on-the-spot lessons that will make connections for students, other times I spend months planning and preparing to help lead the whole school in a praise service!

Erin-and-her-son-holding-a-teddy-bear.

Erin and Westin, who is in SI Pre-K at MCS.

Q: What’s something most people don’t know about you? 

A: I love to dance!  Before we had children, my husband and I took ballroom dancing lessons for two years where we learned the tango, salsa, foxtrot, swing, waltz, rumba, bachata, cha-cha, merengue, and disco.  I would love to pick up ballroom dancing with my husband again–although that probably won’t happen for at least another 17 years!

Erin-and-her-daughter-in-matching-outfits.

Erin and her daughter Lena twinning!

Q: What’s your most favorite teaching moment to date?

A: Some of my most favorite teaching moments are in closing our morning/day/year in a circle prayer–it is just so powerful!  Also being able to start each day off in devotions with my students has proven pretty powerful too!

Earlier this year, I was talking in my devotion time with my students about the feeling of loneliness and how we are never really alone because we have someone who knows our deepest inner thoughts–Jesus! Later that day, I found a notecard written by one of my students that read, “You are NOT alone, you have God with you…ALWAYS!” Even as 3rd graders they just “get it!”

Later that day, I found a notecard written by one of my students that read, ‘You are NOT alone, you have God with you…ALWAYS!” Even as 3rd graders they just get it!’

Erin-and-Westin-on-a-ski-lift.

Erin and her son Westin who is in SI 4th grade at MCS.

Q: What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

A: I am MOST grateful to God in bringing me back to MCS. I started out teaching in the public school where as mentioned earlier I almost gave up after eleven years of teaching.  I was frustrated, worn out, run down, and my creativity was lacking. I also did not have as much parental support as I would have liked. God had bigger plans for me and I am just so grateful that the parents at MCS entrust me with their children for seven hours out of each day!

I am MOST grateful to God in bringing me back to MCS. I started out teaching in the public school where as mentioned earlier I almost gave up after eleven years of teaching.  I was frustrated, worn out, run down, and my creativity was lacking.

Jax-smling-for-camera.

Adorable Jax is Erin’s youngest child.

Q: What’s your favorite memory of a student who came back after graduation and contacted you?

A: Well, seeing as how I have only been teaching a total of thirteen years, I don’t really have stories of students coming back after graduation, however students that I did have in the public school I have run into a couple in public places like Meijer or a Chinese food restaurant and they have come up to me and talked with me and reminisced about when they were in my 1st grade class and how they remembered things being fun. They always have smiles on their faces!

Q: What’s your favorite beverage?

A: Coca-Cola…both my students and I would agree I drink entirely WAY TOO MUCH!

coca-cola-can-image

Feel free to show Erin LOVE & APPRECIATION by treating her to a yummy Coke! 😉

As a beloved faculty member, Erin is part of the heart of WMCS. We are so BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Erin and the amazing Kingdom work she does at MCS.

Erin, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars! Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian(PK-6), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), New Era Christian (PK-8) and Western Michigan Christian (7-12).

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality, PK-12 Christian education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, our schools collaborate to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian education in West Michigan.

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Daniel Garland

Teachers are the heart of WMCS!

Every Tuesday during the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative highlights a teacher from one of our five schools.

We have many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and teach children how to SHINE and RISE UP to their God-given potential. They shepherd the WMCS students to GROW as Christians and default to leaning on ALWAYS CHRIST. It’s a teacher’s goal to encourage every student to LOVE. LEARN. LEAD.

Celebrating Daniel Garland of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Western Michigan Christian Junior High and High School

Daniel grew up in the mid-west area of the nation, moving around from state to state with most of his time spent here in Michigan. He graduated from Jenison High School in 2009 and received a degree in special education from Grand Valley State University. He originally went to school for video game design, but God had different plans.  After doing some volunteer work with local schools Dan discovered a love for teaching, which led him to WMC in 2018. Daniel is an ESS (Education Support Services) teacher for grades 7-12, which consists of providing students with extra instructional assistance. This help can range from pulling a student from class to re-teach a lesson, to putting interventions in place to help a student learn more effectively, to assisting and co-teaching in classrooms.

Enjoy getting to know him a bit more!

Q & A with Daniel

1.  What’s your favorite teaching moment to date?

My favorite teaching moment would have to be with the school’s robotics team at our first competition.  It was a multi-day competition, and this was our first time doing anything like this. Our first day of competing did not go so well.  Our robot had some bugs in the code and didn’t function exactly how we wanted it to. At the end of our first day, the students were down, and some were questioning why we were even there.

WMC Robotics team group photo at competition.

WMC’s Robotics Team at the first FRC Qualifier in 2019 in Kentwood.

We had long talks about how not everything is always going to go your way, and when it doesn’t, to always try to learn what can be improved upon. From this experience, the students learned that failures and mistakes are excellent teaching moments.

From this experience, the students learned that failures and mistakes are excellent teaching moments. On day two, we bounced back from our initial first-day mistakes and rocked it out, winning all of our matches! 

On day two, we bounced back from our initial first-day mistakes and rocked it out, winning all of our matches!  In the end, we received an award for being the highest ranking rookie team in that competition. The part I love most about this was how the students turned their moods and behaviors around before we even won the award at the end of the day. They learned a valuable lesson that will stick with them–the award was just the cherry on top.

The part I love most about this was how the students turned their moods and behaviors around before we even won the award at the end of the day.

Robot close-up shot

Our robot was designed to extend up to 8 feet tall and had a forklift type mechanism.

2.   What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

I have a weakness for cats and dogs.  I think my cats and dogs are the most adorable animals ever. I may be a little biased though.

Photo of Daniel's black dog and cat snuggling on couch

Daniel’s pets, Ari and Mew, are both a year old, and they are BFFs!

3. What do you love about your job and why?

The part I love most about my job is helping students realize that they are able to do things that they themselves didn’t realize that they were capable of.

close up photo Daniel Garland and a student

4.   What’s the best part of your day?

The best part about my day is when I get to teach concepts and lessons to students in a different way.  Not every student learns the same way, and I love finding the best way for each student individually.

The best part about my day is when I get to teach concepts and lessons to students in a different way.  Not every student learns the same way, and I love finding the best way for each student individually.

5. How specifically has the Lord gifted you as an individual and how does that help you as a teacher?

The Lord has gifted me with a speech impediment in the form of a stutter.  I haven’t always viewed it as a positive thing in my life and it has led to some difficult situations.  While going to school for Special Education I realized that having a stutter makes it so I understand what some students go through on a daily basis with a disability or other hardship.  My stutter is not as severe as it once was, but I know at least a little bit of what some students are going through.

While going to school for special education I realized that having a stutter makes it so I understand what some students go through on a daily basis with a disability or other hardship.

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?

Mountain Dew Code Red

As a beloved faculty member, Dan is a very special part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Dan and the amazing Kingdom work he does at WMC.

Dan, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian(PK-6), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), New Era Christian (PK-8) and Western Michigan Christian (7-12).

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality, PK-12 Christian education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, our schools collaborate to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian education in West Michigan.