West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for April 2020

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Kevin Aardema

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

It takes extraordinary people, living extraordinary lives to proclaim the truth of the Gospel through their work as teachers. At WMCS we have MANY such people and we love to celebrate them!

Last year we launched, Teacher Tuesday and it was a wonderful way to highlight a very special teacher from all five West Michigan Christian Schools every week. We’re excited to start the campaign again, so be sure to check our social media every Tuesday to see who will be featured that week. Teacher Tuesday is a GREAT opportunity to encourage these PK-12 teachers, drop off their favorite drink (see blog post for what that is) and thank them for their service! Our faculty collectively use their giftedness to 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 Kevin Aardema of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

In the words of Ben Garretson WMC’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian and top runner for WMCS Men’s Cross Country team:

Mr. Aardema is a great teacher and a fantastic coach. He encouraged us in the classroom and on the course. Though he sometimes employed tough love, his dedication to his students and athletes was always evident. We appreciated having him as a teacher and coach and are glad for the impact he’s had on our lives. 

In the words of Abby VanderKooi, WMC’s 2019 Footlocker National Cross Country First Team All-American:

Truthfully I don’t even know what to say, there are too many things to be said! I love Mr. Aardema very much and I have great respect for him. As a coach, he is so chill. I still remember once before a very small not-really-important-for-anything cross country meet I was freaking out about and just really nervous, Mr. Aardema told me, ‘Abby, I will tell you when you need to be nervous for a race!’ And he has proceeded to never tell me I needed to be nervous about a race — okay, maybe nationals, though. He is so calm and collected. He tells me to just go out there and run my race. Even if I am really worried about something, I know that Coach A will always be calm and there for me. He also ALWAYS thinks it’s a great day to run. Sometimes I step into his classroom and it is freezing, rainy, and windy (I HATE THE WIND!) and he says, “It’s a great day to run!” Sometimes you can only laugh at him. I really enjoy having him as a coach and teacher, and I hope he knows that he deserves to be honored on Teacher Tuesday!

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: I graduated from Grosse Pointe South HS and attended Calvin College. I have a master’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.  My first 9 years of teaching were in the Detroit Public School system at Denby High School followed by teaching mathematics at WMC since 2001.

Q: What classes do you teach at WMC?

A: I teach Algebra II, AP Statistics, and AP Calculus. I also coach Cross Country at WMC.

Kay, Adrienne (WMC class of 2014), Josie (WMC class of 2018) and Kevin Aardema. Both daughters were Valedictorians at WMC!

Q: What’s your favorite scripture?

A: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” – Psalm 42:1

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: As I work with kids who are under so much pressure, much of it self created, I remind them of a quote by Bill Murray, “It just doesn’t matter.”   What really matters is your relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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

A: I love getting to know kids.

Kevin kayaking on Lake Superior.

Q: What’s the best part of your day?

A: Cross country practice!

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

A: I have been told I am patient.

Q: If there was anything you could change about your job, what would it be? 

A: I wish I could stop giving grades to kids and just teach and learn for the love of learning.

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

A: The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some great kids.

Kevin Aardema and Kyle Kempster at the Pilgrim Prance, the annual Thanksgiving race these two BFFs pioneered for local runners in 2009. Free race admittance. Silly costumes encouraged.

As you can see Kevin is a man of few words! His sparse responses to the above Q&A leave you wanting to learn more. His daughter, Adrienne Aardema, captured her father thoughtfully in her 2014 Valedictorian address so we decided to share it with you.

Enjoy!

Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From My Dad

by Adrienne Aardema

WMC Class of 2014 Valedictorian Speech

I wanted to say something fresh but true tonight, and since many of you know of my dad, Kevin Aardema, I thought I would share some things that I have learned from him.  My Dad is a math teacher and cross-country coach at WMC.  He answers almost all questions with his personal set of one-liners that cover the philosophical spectrum.  I’m sharing with you my top ten list, and I have heard these from him hundreds of times.

10 – Sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

Well, this is a callous (but true) statement for a coach/Dad to make.  It’s blunt, but it reminds me that, on my own, I’m not that great.  The real goodness in me is always God working through me.

9 – If you don’t puke, then you weren’t really trying.

My Dad usually tells us this before races.  In general, it means: “give it your all, even when it hurts or is embarrassing”.

8 – You’re my favorite.

This is my Dad’s way of saying “Good job, but you’d better keep it up because that could change.”

7 – Just go out there and have fun.

…What he told me before my last cross-country meet, and before I ran the slowest time race that I’ve ever run.

6 – It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win.

I find this a little bit contradictory to his last statement about “just go out there and have some fun”, but he is competitive to the core.  Obviously, there is gospel truth in this statement also, because our ultimate victory in Christ does not depend upon our deeds.

5 – The first pancake never comes out well.

My Dad says this every time we make pancakes, but he always looks directly at me, the first-born.  I’m still not sure what this means, but he always throws the first pancake in the trash.

4 – I am a pizza genius!!

…the contagious power of optimism.  My Dad makes this remark every time he makes pizza, whether or not it is burnt, or tasteless, or wonderful.

3 – You’re just a stupid kid.

This is my Dad’s off-hand way of offering grace, but it also puts me in my place.

2 – The pain is only temporary.

This is my Dad’s constant advice when he is encouraging me to finish something difficult.

1 – A bath solves everything.

I should probably say something about baptism, but I think he really means a bath

These are the Elemental Aardema Truths, and whether I want to or not, I will carry them with me as I leave my home and childhood. 

There are also Elemental Truths that WMC has offered us:  they involve hope and grace and courage and friendship.  I am grateful for them.  Thank you teachers and families and coaches for the life lessons you leave with us.

I wish my classmates well, as they carry their own legacies into adulthood.

Thank you and God bless you.

As a beloved faculty member, Kevin is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  

A Small Token of Appreciation

Thank you from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Kevin! It’s two $10 gifts from our two WMCS retail fundraising partners, DIBS! on Resale and B2 Outlet Store Muskegon.

To redeem, please check-in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this token of appreciation — $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop, Chad!

To redeem your $10 off at our B2 Outlet Store, go shopping and then submit your B2 sales receipt to your school principal and we’ll send you a check to reimburse you!

Relocated to a new store in Muskegon in January of 2019, DIBS! On Resale proceeds benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS). In the fall of the same year, we also celebrated the opening of our second retail fundraising partner, B2 Outlet Store. Both stores exist to help raise funds for all five of our schools 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.

Curious if you should switch your kids to WMC or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? Time to start thinking about a school system partner.

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Muskegon Christian School’s Chad Bonnema

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

It takes extraordinary people, living extraordinary lives to proclaim the truth of the Gospel through their work as teachers. At WMCS we have MANY such people and we love to celebrate them!

Last year we launched, Teacher Tuesday and it was a wonderful way to highlight a very special teacher from all five West Michigan Christian Schools every week. We’re excited to start the campaign again, so be sure to check our social media every Tuesday to see who will be featured that week. Teacher Tuesday is a GREAT opportunity to encourage these PK-12 teachers, drop off their favorite drink (see blog post for what that is) and thank them for their service! Our faculty collectively use their giftedness to 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 Chad Bonnema of Muskegon Christian School (PK-6th grade)

In the words of Dan DeKam, MCS principal:

It has been a pleasure working with Chad these last 9 years.  Chad is always willing to help and he does it with a smile! Chad has been active with our Lego league, bucket brigade, technology committee and never shies away from a new opportunity.  He brings a passion for Christian education and is always seeking ways to ‘do it better’.  

Q: How many years have you taught at MCS? 

A: I have taught at MCS for 9 years. My first MCS class graduates from high school this year!

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?    

A: I teach 5th grade at MCS.

Q: Do you have kids at MCS? 

A: I have 1 daughter to go through WMC, one daughter currently at WMC, and a daughter and a son at MCS.  

The Bonnema Family

Q: Did you graduate from MCS? 

A: Unfortunately, I did not attend West Michigan Christian Schools. I am a proud Kalamazoo Christian Schools graduate – go Comets!

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

A: One of my favorite teaching moments actually was less of a teacher and more of a manager. During the 2013-2014 school year, I managed one of the MCS Destination Imagination teams. Destination Imagination is a problem-solving and creative competition that provides unique educational experiences across seven project-based Challenge types–Technical, Scientific, Engineering, Fine Arts, Improvisational, Service Learning, and Early Learning.  

Well, during the 2013-2014 season, our team was able to make it to the Global Finals (World Championships) in Knoxville, TN. Along the way, we placed 2nd at the regional competition, 2nd at the state competition, and 38th out of 75 teams at the Global Finals. MCS had never made it so far in a Destination Imagination competition before. More importantly, the memories created and the hard work from the team is something I will always cherish. 

Q:  What’s a FUN FACT that most people do not know about you?

A: I used to be a (very) amateur clown. My clown name was Boomer the Clown and I would “clown” around at civic, school, and church functions. At one time I even considered going to Clown College but decided my calling was in the classroom and not the circus. 

Q: What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage? 

A: Coffee. I even have the equipment to roast my own coffee beans, complete with my own brand name and logo. Nerdy, I know!


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

A: I am most grateful that I am able to work in a Christian environment. Faith is such a big part of who we are as Christian educators. I can’t imagine not being able to share it with my students. I also LOVE working with other Christian teachers.

Q: We’re in year two of Teaching for Transformation (TfT) training. Thoughts on it thus far?  

A: I am excited to implement TfT into the classroom next year. I believe it will take the Christian part of Christian education, student learning, and my teaching to a deeper level. I am excited to take the training I have received and use it in the classroom. TfT will invite, nurture, and empower our students to be a part of God’s story!

Q: Tell us about the recent field trip to WMC’s CAD class?

A: I challenged my fifth-grade math class with the question “is it possible to make disciples of Christ through the running of a taco truck?” In developing the answer to this question, the students were also asked to create a taco truck, blueprints included, and a business plan for the taco truck restaurant. They created their blueprints on graph paper and then traveled to WMC to collaborate with the high school students who currently take CAD class with Mr. Osburne, to help them create a more professional rendering of their taco truck!

To watch a video of that fun day, go to INSTAGRAM.

Chad leads the student Bucket Brigade at MCS every year.
They perform at half time at WMC every winter during boys varsity basketball game.

As a beloved faculty member, Chad is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  

A Small Token of Appreciation

Thank you from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Chad! It’s two $10 gifts from our two WMCS retail fundraising partners, DIBS! on Resale and B2 Outlet Store Muskegon.

To redeem, please check-in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this token of appreciation — $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop, Chad!

To redeem your $10 off at our B2 Outlet Store, go shopping and then submit your B2 sales receipt to your school principal and we’ll send you a check to reimburse you!

Relocated to a new store in Muskegon in January of 2019, DIBS! On Resale proceeds benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS). In the fall of the same year, we also celebrated the opening of our second retail fundraising partner, B2 Outlet Store. Both stores exist to help raise funds for all five of our schools 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.

Curious if you should switch your kids to MCS or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? Time to start thinking about a school system partner.

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Chris Kelley

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

It takes extraordinary people, living extraordinary lives to proclaim the truth of the Gospel through their work as teachers. At WMCS we have MANY such people and we love to celebrate them!

New Era Christian School

Last year we launched, Teacher Tuesday and it was a wonderful way to highlight a very special teacher from all five West Michigan Christian Schools every week. We’re excited to start the campaign again, so be sure to check our social media every Tuesday to see who will be featured that week. Teacher Tuesday is a GREAT opportunity to encourage these PK-12 teachers, drop off their favorite drink (see blog post for what that is) and thank them for their service! Our faculty collectively use their giftedness to 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 CHRIS KELLEY OF NEW ERA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL (PK-8th):

In the words of Phil Morse, NEC Administrator:

Mrs. Kelley’s classroom is a model for an authentic, caring community where every student feels like they belong.

Q: How many years have you taught there? 

A: I am in my fifth year teaching at NECS

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 7th/8th grade, all subjects.

Q: Do you have kids there? Graduated from there?

A: Three of my four sons have attended NECS.  One graduated from here in 2016 and my youngest son is currently in the 6th grade.

Lucky mom of 4 boys: Jonah (21), Ben (18), Andrew (15) and Eli (12)


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

A: Last year one of my students prayed to receive Christ as her personal Savior.  When asked what led her to choose Christ, she cited conversations with her dad, Mr. Morse and a presentation of the Spirit-Filled life we had in class. The transformation in her attitude, work ethic and general outlook on life have been significant and a joy to watch.

A wall of books behind me and great kids alongside me-I love learning, growing and pursuing Jesus with my amazing students.

Q: What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

A: I was a member of the University of Michigan Synchronized Swim Team for a year.

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

A: Hands down the best part of my job is doing life together with the students in my classroom.  Growing together as compassionate Christ Followers, sharing each others’ burdens and learning alongside one another gives purpose and meaning to my days.

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: Prayer time in the morning and math block are my favorites.  My students share real struggles and praises and it serves as a time of connection for all of us.  Even though my major in college was English, math is my favorite subject because I love problem-solving.

Time with friends is my favorite hobby.


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

A: The Lord has allowed me the privilege of many life experiences that help in my teaching.  Academically, I have taught in the public school, I have homeschooled my own kids and now I teach at NECS.  My teaching position is also unique because I teach all subjects in middle school. I am a curious learner so I feel fortunate to be diving into subjects that may not be my “specialty”.  Divorce, foster care, and special needs parenting have all played a significant role in my life, as well, and help me in understanding people. Personally, discipleship was transformational in my own life and spiritual formation, so my heart is bent toward seeing the hand of God in people’s lives.   

Q: If there was anything you could change about your job, what would it be? 

A: Without a doubt, I would outsource GRADING!

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

A: I am most grateful that in my current position I have the freedom to address issues in the classroom and with students from a spiritual perspective.  On a practical level, I enjoy my co-workers, the school is close to my home and the work is flexible and family-friendly.

My husband of 25 years, Duane and me, enjoying gaining a daughter-in-law at our oldest son’s wedding in August 2019.

AS A BELOVED FACULTY MEMBER, CHRIS IS PART OF THE HEART OF WMCS. WE ARE BLESSED AND FAVORED TO HAVE HER AS PART OF OUR SCHOOL FAMILY!  

A SMALL TOKEN OF APPRECIATION

A heartfelt THANK YOU, from all of your colleagues at WMCS and the school families!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Chris! It’s two $10 gifts from our two WMCS retail fundraising partners, DIBS! on Resale and B2 Outlet Store Muskegon.

To redeem, please check-in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this token of appreciation — $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

To redeem your $10 off at our B2 Outlet Store, go shopping and then submit your B2 sales receipt to your school principal and we’ll send you a check to reimburse you!

Relocated to a new store in Muskegon in January of 2019, DIBS! On Resale proceeds benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS). In the fall of the same year, we also celebrated the opening of our second retail fundraising partner, B2 Outlet Store. Both stores exist to help raise funds for all five of our schools 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.

Curious about starting your child at NEC or any of our 5 schools?

LEARN MORE.