West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for May 2020

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Muskegon Christian School’s Pilar Vanderstelt

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 Pilar Vanderstelt of Muskegon Christian School (PK-6th grade)

In the words of MCS Principal, Dan DeKam:

Pilar Vanderstelt has been a treasure to have on staff at MCS and we are so thankful that God led her to Muskegon and to MCS.  She brought with her a wealth of knowledge about best practices in Spanish immersion and has been able to guide our program with her wisdom and insight.  She is passionate about her work and is always ‘on top of her game.’  Pilar is a pleasure to have on staff and a much loved part of the MCS staff.  

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: This is my 8th year teaching in MCS.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A:  I feel blessed to be part of Muskegon Christian School as a Spanish Immersion teacher.

I teach Spanish Immersion to 1st and  2nd  graders.

Q: Do you have kids at MCS?

A: Yes, Jacob who is in Spanish Immersion Kindergarten.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Reynosa, Mexico.  Reynosa is across the border from McAllen, Texas.  I grew up in Reynosa and I had a nice childhood there.  

Q: What is your background?

A: I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 17 years old.  I have been involved since that time in church leadership as an elder, teacher, cell group leader, Sunday school director, VBS coordinator, and missionary ministry. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy (the teaching/learning process) and a Master’s degree in Human Development with an emphasis in family education and orientation.  I worked for ten years in a Christian school (Integrity School) as a founder, teacher, Vice-principal and Principal. I was also a professor at Universidad Tecnologica de Tamaulipas Norte for four years.  I taught Spanish and Ethics and I tutored students earning their Technical Associate’s Degrees. 

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

A: That I really love and enjoy playing practical jokes in my husband Jeff =)

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

A: What I love most about my job is the freedom to talk/teach about God and His Word. Also, that I can pray with my students at any time.

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: When I get to hug my students at the end of each school day. When I listen to my students communicating with each other in Spanish.

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

A: I would update our school building and make it bigger. I would also like to have inside recess during the winter. No more recess duties in the winter. Ha,ha,ha.

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

A: Water, Iced Half lemonade – half tea

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

A: I am most grateful for the opportunity to teach my native language and culture with my first graders.

Q: What do you enjoy?

A: Reading, walking, Mexican folk dancing, warm weather, and spending time with family and friends.

Q: What is your life verse?

A: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” -Isaiah 61:10

As a beloved faculty member, Pilar 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

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

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Pilar! 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. Being a PK-12 school system, WMCS is one-stop Christian education!

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Ann Yonker

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.

Ann Yonker

Celebrating Ann Yonker of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

In the words of FCS Principal, Nick Donkersloot:

Mrs. Yonker has a joy and love for her students and that is evident each and every day. A veteran teacher whom others lean on for advice and support, Ann always has time for everyone. Mrs. Yonker has the unique ability to create a whole world with just her words when she is telling a Bible story. Mrs. Yonker never settles for mediocre, both in her and her student’s work. She is constantly pushing herself and others to be the best that they can be.  

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: I have taught at Fremont Christian for 29 years.

Field Trip to Muskegon Winter Sports Park with my 2nd graders. 


Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 2nd-grade Outdoor Education – it’s the best!! 

Me and my students in the classroom.

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

A: Both of my sons graduated from FCS and WMCHS. Jonathan is 24 and Tyler is 20.

The Yonker Family: Jonathan, Ann, Steve, and Tyler.

A very proud moment – watching my son graduate from Marine Boot Camp in SanDiego, California.


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

A: It is really hard to come up with just one!  As a working mom, you sometimes feel like you are missing the time spent with your children, so it was very special for me to have both of my sons in my classroom.  It gave me a glimpse into their lives as students and I was finally able to go on field trips with my own children! 

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

A: I love going to High School events and having former students come up to me.  It is great hearing what is going on in their lives and it means a lot that they are willing to take the time to say hi and talk a bit. 

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

A: I love to travel and try new things!  I have visited 48 states and toured through 27 different countries.  I’ve tried high ropes courses, white water rafting, the Muskegon Luge run, and skydiving.    

Kayaking in beautiful Glacier National Park 

A very friendly mountain goat we encountered while hiking on the Highline Trail in Glacier!
My favorite place in Yellowstone National Park – Grand Prismatic Spring!

Getting ready to ride the luge run in Muskegon.

Camping near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. 

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

A: I love teaching second grade!  Second graders are excited about learning and school, but what I love the most is building relationships with students.  I get very close to my students after a whole year and really miss them when they move on (or have to be at home because of distance learning!).  Because I am in lower elementary I get to watch them grow up and move through the grades at FCS.  I love going to All-School chapels and having older students come up to me for a hug and to say hi.   

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: I love prayer journal time with my class.  We gather on the floor and share what is on our minds and hearts. It is a time when I learn as much from my students as I hope they learn from me.  It is powerful to hear your students praying for you! I am so grateful to be at a school where I can share my faith and sit in a circle with my students as we pray for each other. 

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


A: Report cards!  It is impossible to give parents a good idea of what their child is like at school with the grades you give on a piece of paper.  No child can be defined by a report card!

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

A: Coke Zero – I’m a caffeine junky!

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

A: That every fall I get to start over at a job I love!  Teaching never gets boring because each year you can do things differently with a whole new group of students.  I am also very grateful for the overwhelming support of parents, fellow staff, administration, and school board.

As a beloved faculty member, Ann 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

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

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Ann! 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 FCS or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? Time to start thinking about a school system partner. Being a PK-12 school system, WMCS is one-stop Christian education!

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Erika Crawford

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 Erika Crawford of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

In the words of NEC Principal, Phil Morse:

Miss Crawford’s classroom is structured and predictable as well as she is tenacious about student learning.

Here I am at my brother’s wedding on Mackinaw Island.

Q: How many years have you taught there? 


A: This is my fourth year as a teacher at NECS. Prior to becoming the 1st/2nd grade teacher, I worked as an interventionist for five months at NECS.

My niece and nephew mean the world to me – Kase and Bailey Crawford.

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

A: I love this question! My all-time favorite moment teaching my students was last school year when we were in Bible time one day. We were discussing some of the verses in the Bible where Jesus laid his hands on people to heal them and it came to my mind to practice this with my students. Each student had the opportunity to say their prayer requests and then they were asked to sit in the middle of the circle. Other students gathered around and laid their precious hands-on that student. What made it so powerful was that we all prayed out loud together! Students still talk about it to this day; it was one of their favorite things to do!  

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

I’ve grown to love fishing. Here we are at my favorite spot – Rose Lake.

A: I have a new found love of fishing with my fiance. I am finding that being on the water is so peaceful and the scenery is breathtaking. We enjoy trying out different lakes and Michigan certainly has an abundance of them!   

My fiance Trevor and I right after we became engaged.

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: I really enjoy the mornings with my students! Mornings are a great time to start each day with devotions and turn our hearts to God. Our “Daily 5” time is after devotions and I love it! This is the time where I can listen to each student read in the ‘meet with teacher’ station while other students are involved in reading with a buddy, reading in the classroom loft, reading on Kindles, and doing word work. I enjoy creating activities for my students that are engaging and keep their attention. I want to instill the love of reading in each one of my students. My hope is to create lifelong readers!  

I love my first and second grade students!

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

A: I just joined the coffee drinking club this year, if there is such a thing.  I love it and drink a cup every morning! I can’t believe I waited so long. Sweet coffee is my favorite!! 

 My fiance and soon to be step-children, Brianna and Brookelynn.

As a beloved faculty member, Erika 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

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

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Erika! 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 NEC or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? Time to start thinking about a school system partner. Being a PK-12 school system, WMCS is one-stop Christian education!

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Grand Haven Christian School’s Kathryn Becksvoort

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 Kathryn Becksvoort of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

In the words of GHC Principal Tim Annema:

Kathryn is an amazingly talented musician, teacher, wife, and mother of four. She is passionate about providing ways in which students can use their voice and other musical instruments to make beautiful music in praise to God. Mrs. Becksvoort also directs the choirs at WMC, providing different music opportunities for GHC students for up 13 years of their life!

Q: How many years have you taught?

A: This is my 17th year teaching music and choir at GHC.  It is my 13th year teaching middle and high school choir at WMC.

Directing the 5th Graders at the 2019 Christmas Concert

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach preschool-8th grade general music and choir at GHC.  I teach 7th-12th grade choir at WMC

Selfie in music class with Kinder

Q: Do you have kids at GHC?

A: My son Jack is in 5th grade, my daughter Clara is in 2nd grade, and my daughter Louise is in Young 5’s.  My daughter Cecilia will be coming to the preschool in the fall!

Selfie with the Men’s Choir as they prepare to sing at State Choir Festival at Hope College

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

A: I love being able to connect with my students.  Music is such a passion for many of them – being able to nurture and showcase their musical gifts is a privilege and a blessing.  I love seeing them take those gifts out into the community and into their churches to bless others as well!

Selfie with Lou on her 5th birthday, getting ice cream at Norm’s.

Q: What’s the best part of your day?

A: I love getting up early in the morning, and being greeted by my sweet three-year-old.  She’s a morning person and a very early riser.  She always has a big smile and hugs for her mama!

Selfie with Jack on our taco date at Mercury Park

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

A:  I think God has blessed me with musical talents, which I love to share.  But beyond that, I think He has given me the skills of communication and empathy, so I can really reach my students where they are and help them grow.

Selfie with Dave this past summer at Silver Lake (while at Mac Woods)

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

A: I might let someone else teach fourth-grade recorders.  Just kidding – I actually love it!  Is that strange?

Selfie with the Chamber Choir, just before the Fall Concert at Orchard View.

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

A: Iced coffee!

Family photo from fall 2019
(from left to right) the kids’ order is Clara, Cecilia, Louise, and Jack.

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

A: GHC has always strongly supported the music program.  I know that whether it’s an elementary musical, a children’s Christmas program, a middle school choir concert, or anything else, I know that the parents, administrators, and teachers always come to cheer us on and support us in the audience!  Students then feel loved and encouraged in their musical endeavors, and strive to achieve excellence!  We know that as we share our musical gifts, we are there to glorify God.  I love being able to communicate that at GHC.

Directing the Chamber Choir and the Chamber Alumni at the WMC Collage Concert (at the Frauenthal).

As a beloved faculty member, Kathryn 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

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

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Kathryn! 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 GHC or any of our five schools?

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

LEARN MORE about us!