West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Author Archive for Kimberlee Mitchell

Western Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative Staff Spotlight Fall 2019

The Power of Teamwork

The “Collaborative” or West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS), is a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with the goal of creating a seamless, exemplary preschool through high school Christian educational experience for local families. Together, FCS, GHC, NEC, MCS, and WMC provide excellent Christian education rooted in the Gospel to all who desire it.

This “better together” teamwork is personified by a growing staff that works behind-the-scenes to help fulfill the goal and mission of WMCS while adding a professional level of support to each school.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had. – Acts 4:32

Introducing, TEAM WMCS, the Collaborative Support Staff for all Five Schools

WMCS Collaborative staff (pictured above) includes (top, left to right:) Larry Schutt, Mary Workman, Cathy Schaaf, Kimberlee Mitchell, (bottom row) Whitney Piersma, Dan DeKam, and Jennifer Van Hekken.

LARRY SCHUTT, WMCS CFO, joined in 2018.

“I love supporting the WMCS principals on the business side of school operations as much as they love supporting the teachers who are on the frontline of Christian education.”

WHITNEY JACKSON, Director of Educational Support Services, since 2016.

“Working with the WMCS collaborative allows me to create procedures system-wide to ensure all schools share the same vision for supporting students with diverse learning needs. This helps create consistency and build a community of collaboration between teams at each school that allows us to use each other as resources!”

KIMBERLEE MITCHELL, Director of Marketing Communications, since 2016.

“I enjoy working with the ‘Fab Five” principals, their support staff and the managers of DIBS! and B2 to sustain and raise the bar for excellence of transformative Christian education! It’s true Kingdom work!”

JENN VANHEKKEN, Director of TfT since 2017 and K-8 Curriculum Development, since 2015.

“What I love most about what I do is having the ability to walk alongside our teachers to help them strengthen their understanding of integrating faith and learning in a way that is meaningful and intentional while also
strengthening their curriculum and their use of best practices for learning in the classroom.”

CATHY SCHAAF, WMCS Accountant, since May 2019.

“I am very excited to be working with the WMCS collaborative! It’s an excellent idea for all of the schools to work together to provide the best Christian education. I’ve been involved in Christian education for most of my life as a student and now as a parent with sons who were blessed by the K-12 WMCS system.”

MARY WORKMAN, DIBS! On Resale Store Manager since early 2017.

“Working with the WMCS collaborative board for DIBS! has given me the opportunity to give back to the schools that have supported me and my family.”

DAN DEKAM, WMCS Collaborative Director since 2014

“It has been gratifying to see how the collaborative model has strengthened our Christian Schools in West Michigan.”

A Testimony By Nick Donkersloot, of FCS

A Man After His Father’s Own Heart

By Nick Donkersloot, Fremont Christian School Principal

Every boy grows up wanting to be like their hero and I was no exception. A childhood hero is usually a superhero or an all-star athlete. My hero, however, was a Christian school principal named Mr. Donkersloot;
he also happened to be my father.

My hero, however, was a Christian school principal named Mr. Donkersloot; he also happened to be my father.

I have known I wanted to be in education my whole life, and after thirteen years of teaching, I have finally been able to realize that dream by becoming the principal at Fremont Christian.

I know that I am a fallen man; we are all fallen. I also know the joy of God’s never-ending grace and love for us. A love that meant he sent his son to die on the cross for us ensuring our salvation. I know that in all things I am in
God’s hands and no matter what I do he will never let go of me. This is the foundation of who I am, and it is truly a joy to share that with all around me. I try to shine God’s light in all that I do. One thing that I have loved about being a principal is being able to pop into the classroom and celebrate with them in whatever they are learning.

I try to shine God’s light in all that I do. Hopefully, God’s light is as evident in me as it is in them (students).

Hopefully, God’s light is as evident in me as it is in them. My whole childhood was centered around Christian education. My education from kindergarten through high school was at a Christian school. My father was my principal for elementary school, middle school and first two years of high school. I also spent the first two years of my undergrad at Calvin College. I have always been thankful for the foundation in my background in Christian education. I not only learned the importance of a quality education where Christ is at the center of all things, but I experienced it. It is a foundation that carried me through to my teaching career. I have seen the value and benefits of having my faith and the faith of my staff and students woven throughout every aspect of FCS. This is why I am so excited that we are implementing Teaching for Transformation. TFT will help staff make sure that God’s story and our part in that story is at the foundation of all we teach.

I am so excited that we are implementing Teaching for Transformation. TFT will help staff make sure that God’s story and our part in that story is at the foundation of all we teach.

We are part of God’s story and because of His redemption, we get to be a part of the restoration story. I take pride and joy in working on bringing restoration to God’s world.

Interested in more INFORMATION about Fremont Christian School’s PK-8th grade?

This testimony was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. DOWNLOAD a PDF copy of the newsletter.

A Testimony by Phil Morse, NEC Principal

An Example in Word and Action

By Phil Morse, New Era Christian School Principal

I have a strong desire and hope for my students to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Because of that love, I pray that they live in a way that brings Him glory according to the ways God has called them. There are two ways I know to do that best.

The first way is to teach our students about this world through their academic studies about the past, the present, how it was intended to be, and how it could be in the future. The Teaching for Transformation training is a
highly valuable tool for my faculty in making that happen and my staff is embracing this both spiritually and professionally. The second way is to model the life of a genuine follower of Jesus.

I’ve made it a priority to invest my time impacting others in my community outside of New Era Christian School while bringing dedicated servant leadership to the students, staff, and families within.

I’ve made it a priority to invest my time impacting others in my community outside of New Era Christian School while bringing dedicated servant leadership to the students, staff, and families within.

My goal?

To be the hands and feet of Christ inside and out of my immediate sphere of influence.

Whether I am coming alongside people at Love Inc. as an intake officer or pursuing efforts to decrease illiteracy in impoverished areas via themotorforliteracy.org, the ultimate goal is to help people keep their eyes on living for a higher purpose rather than for what this world has to offer.
That is particularly important to me for my students because serving helps to transform hearts in our community. This fall, our students reached outside of their own sphere of influence by delivering apple pies and grape jam that they made to our local neighborhood. Simply put, they shared the wide and long and high and deep love of Christ which is
transforming them, and others around them, for Christ.

Simply put, they (NEC students) shared the wide and long and high and deep love of Christ which is transforming them, and others around them, for Christ.

I am grateful for the opportunities my students and I have to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Interested in more INFORMATION about New Era Christian School’s PK-8th grade?

This testimony was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. DOWNLOAD a PDF copy of the newsletter.

A Testimony by Pastor Samuel Greer, WMC Principal

He is Faithful at Every Turn

by Pastor Samuel Greer, Principal of Western Michigan Christian High Scholl and Middle School

I am often asked for a statement that reflects my testimony to the power and authority of Jesus Christ. This past summer has brought me to a place of absolute trust and confidence in Christ as Master of the universe. Our family was ready to embrace the joys of summer break when, suddenly, life took an unpredictable turn. Instead, our summer was spent with daily visits to the intensive care unit of our local hospital and the Traumatic Brain Unit of Spectrum Health. Since June, my family has wrestled with the challenges of life and the daily struggles of human frailty in the wake of my wife Judy’s fall at home.

Remarkably, we’ve also experienced great blessings and even clarity in this trial. The power of prayer and the strength of the Christian community has been the stabilizing foundation over the last several months. Working and worshipping with individuals that share the hope we have in Jesus Christ has strengthened me for the journey that is ahead.

I am left with a strengthened conviction that living with purpose and using our individual and collective God-given gifts to further His Kingdom is a privilege and a blessed opportunity that we all have daily; one that should be rejoiced, leveraged and surely not squandered.

I praise God for the Christian community of both Western Michigan Christian School and the lakeshore. I am left with a strengthened conviction that living with purpose and using our individual and collective
God-given gifts to further His Kingdom is a privilege and a blessed opportunity that we all have daily; one that should be rejoiced, leveraged and surely not squandered. My hope, for those who will read this statement, is that you will sense the need, mirror my conviction, and join as one school family in support of Christian education to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

I believe, with all of my heart, that God’s plan and purpose are being lived out in the classrooms and hallways at WMC and at all four feeder schools. It is my prayer that you will participate in the mission of sharing Jesus Christ and providing Christian education to every family.

I believe, with all of my heart, that God’s plan and purpose are being lived out in the classrooms and hallways at WMC and at all four feeder schools.

Interested in more INFORMATION about Western Michigan Christian School’s 7-12th grade?

This testimony was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. DOWNLOAD a PDF copy of the newsletter.

A Testimony by Tim Annema, GHC Principal

Family, Faith & My Deepest Hope

By Tim Annema, Principal of Grand Haven Christian School

Growing up on a dairy farm, there was never a shortage of things to do; cleaning stalls, feeding calves, milking, or my personal favorite, fieldwork. My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. He was up at 4:30 am each day and often worked late into the night paying bills, working out in the fields, or monitoring the birth of a new calf in the barn.

Through all of this, my dad made sure to make time for his faith and family. He was always at the table for family dinners and made it to all of our concerts, games, and recitals. He was also involved in ministry, serving on both church council and the Christian school board. Over time, I have grown to not only appreciate and value these attributes but also emulate them in my daily walk. These attributes did not just appear one day in my father or myself, they were cultivated over time.

The prayer of Oscar Romero hangs in my office as a reminder that God is at work, whether as a farmer, principal, parent, or grandparent. This is what we are about:

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the
Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

My deepest hope is that each child of God will experience value and love found in Jesus Christ while being equipped and called to action to live for Him. Often, we prefer to know that we have the skill-set and ability to complete a task before committing, however, many times God calls for us to act, promising He will equip us along the way. He did so through Moses as he led the Israelites out of captivity from Egypt, David as he defeated the Philistine giant, and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who endured the pain and suffering of the cross.

My deepest hope is that each child of God will experience value and love found in Jesus Christ while being equipped and called to action to live for Him.

As someone new to the role and responsibilities of a principal, I find comfort in knowing that God has called me to act and will sustain me along the way. Furthermore, as a parent of four boys, all at GHC, I am thankful
for the teachers and staff who play a significant role in my children’s lives, sowing and cultivating seeds of faith.

My prayer is that every student at Grand Haven Christian School and within all West Michigan Christian Schools will experience the call of God and respond, trusting that God will equip along the way.

Interested in more INFORMATION about Grand Haven Christian School?

This testimony was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.

WMC is the Lakeshore’s #1 Choice for Christian High School

Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School (7-12th grade) is the Secondary School Destination for Many PK-6 and PK-8th Grade Schools in the Lakeshore Area

WMC offers students and families much support as well as unique academic programs.

Here’s a snapshot below:

STUDENT GUIDANCE


Jeff Schipper, who joined WMC in 2018 as the guidance counselor, delights in helping students navigate the best path per their talents and goals.

Whether students are on the 4-year college, community college or trade school track, Mr. Schipper facilitates the discernment process by meeting with each student yearly to set and evaluate their goals.

He also is available to support students with social and emotional needs.

Guidance Questions?

ESS – EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

WMC’s Haley Langejans (ESS
Teacher) and Dan Garland (ESS
Accommodations Coordinator).


WMC’s Educational Support Services (ESS) team includes Haley Langejans who serves as an ESS Teacher and Dan Garland, an ESS Accommodations Coordinator.

The ESS department is overseen by WMCS ESS Director Whitney Jackson, who works alongside classroom teachers (pictured right) to provide support to students with diagnosed disabilities and students with documented learning gaps.

WMC provides ancillary services (Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Evaluation Services…) to qualifying students.

ESS Questions?

SPANISH IMMERSION

WMC is now home to students who have attended kindergarten through 6th-grade in the MCS Spanish Immersion program.

Soon WMC will welcome students from the growing SI programs at both GHC and FCS. Students can continue their language studies at WMC in full immersion classes in Bible, Spanish Language Arts, and upper levels of Spanish and graduate from WMC with their college language requirements.

To be eligible to attend the SI program at WMC, students must start in the language immersion program in Kindergarten. Three of our four WMC feeders schools offer Spanish Immersion programs including, Grand Haven Christian, Muskegon Christian, and Fremont Christian.

SI Questions?

This blog post was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.

A Testimony from Dan DeKam, MCS Principal

A Grandpa’s Faithful Perspective

By Dan DeKam, Muskegon Christian School Principal

In the past year, my wife and I have had the joy of becoming grand-parents TWICE! You have probably heard the saying, “If I had known how much fun it was being a grandparent, I would have done that first!”

Well, it is corny but true.

If I had known how much fun it was being a grandparent, I would have done that first!

Becoming a grandparent has also re-affirmed my thankfulness for Christian education and the impact it has had on my family. But it also makes me aware of the necessity for making sure that these schools stay committed to the mission of serving God through our work in education. In our desire to stay relevant in a changing society, it is sometimes tempting for our schools to make excellence in academics, music or sports our primary focus or “calling card.” But that would be misplaced.

Becoming a grandparent has also re-affirmed my thankfulness for Christian education and the impact it has had on my family. But it also makes me aware of the necessity for making sure that these schools stay committed to the mission of serving God through our work in education

Our excellence lies in our desire to serve the Lord out of gratitude for what he has done for us. It lies in our passion for helping students understand everything through the clarity of Scripture. If we achieve excellence in other areas, it is a product of that desire to serve God throughout his broad and beautiful creation. It has been a blessing to me to be able to serve in
Christian Schools for the last 30 years. I am so thankful for all of the love and support that has been given to the schools and the dedication of the generations of parents and grandparents.

It has been a blessing to me to be able to serve in Christian Schools for the last 30 years. I am so thankful for all of the love and support that has been given to the schools and the dedication of the generations of parents and grandparents.

In spite of all of the changes that we have endured, I am thankful to be able to say that today we are still true to our mission. In fact, while our schools have always had the desire to serve God through the work of our schools, I would have to say that the tools we have to accomplish this are better than ever. Through our newly adopted teaching paradigm “Teaching for Transformation,” our teachers
have new tools with which to cast this vision of what Christian education is and was meant to be.

In fact, while our schools have always had the desire to serve God through the work of our schools, I would have to say that the tools we have to accomplish this are better than ever.

Thank you for your support of Christian education and for making sure it is there for our kids — and grandkids and, prayerfully, their grandkids.

Interested in more INFORMATION about Muskegon Christian School’s PK-6th grade?

This testimony was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.

Fall 2019 WMCS Director’s Report from Dan DeKam

Dear friends and families of West Michigan Christian Schools,

A bounded set is a term in math used to describe a set of numbers of finite size. This set of numbers has a clear boundary. In order to fit into the set, the number must fit the definition of the set. There is also something called a centered set. These sets are not defined by a boundary, but by a direction. It is a collection of things moving toward a well-defined center.

What are we? What are you?

When applying these definitions to people, we could make boundaries based on geography, politics, socioeconomics, ethnicity, or even whether we like Chevy or Ford. We can then determine to protect our boundaries – or at least make an effort to make sure they are recognized and respected by others. Living as a bounded set could make us feel secure as we only let in those who are also part of the set, and therefore, “like us.” It can also make us feel safe in that we are working to protect what is ours.

But what if we thought of ourselves as a Centered set?

When we instead center ourselves on Jesus Christ, our “set” includes all those who share that center. Our work is to grow the set to include all of those around us.

With a shared center we can:

• Tear down the borders that restrict our association
• Gracefully support more people and be encouraged
(not threatened) by them

Working with our West Michigan Christian Schools collaborative group helps us move from bounded sets to a center. By breaking down the boundaries, we have been able to help each other improve. We have been able to encourage our colleagues and be more effective in our daily work and in advancing the cause of Christian education, which is the cause of Christ.

By breaking down the boundaries, we have been able to help each other improve. We have been able to encourage our colleagues and be more effective in our daily work and in advancing the cause of Christian education, which is the cause of Christ.

The collaborative staff works hard and smart (READ MORE about the WMCS Collaborative Staff) to benefit all schools while glorifying Him. Personally, I have been enriched by the time spent with the other WMCS principals. Our relationship has provided invaluable opportunities to share ideas, ask for advice, laugh (a lot), and occasionally vent.

The collaborative staff works hard and smart to benefit all schools while glorifying Him.

WMCS Timeline Infographic with chronological dates and logos of all five schools
WMCS has been offering Christian Education in the Lakeshore region of West Michigan for more than 100 years!

If you are reading this, you likely have been supportive of one or more of our Christian schools. Thank you so much for your encouragement and participation in this audacious project. For well over one hundred years we have, by the grace of God, been able to build and sustain these schools for the sake of training children to make Christ the center of their lives.

For well over one hundred years we have, by the grace of God, been able to build and sustain these schools for the sake of training children to make Christ the center of their lives.

Please keep us in your prayers as together we grow as a centered set!

Better together,
Dan DeKam, WMCS Collaborative Director

QUESTIONS? Ask us!

This letter was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.

BACK to SCHOOL 2017 for WEST MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS

BACK TO SCHOOL 2017

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) are back in action!

Our five member schools kicked off the year with a collective total of 1,129 students enrolled. During the first weeks, some WMCS students served in the community, lasting memories were made at middle schooler camp, and all PK-12 students made a beautiful noise unto the Lord at each school chapel. Our WMCS faculty are hard at work training up the students in the classroom and on the field, all while creating faith and character growth opportunities that extend “beyond academics.” It’s going to be a fantastic year!

Want to know what is going on at each WMCS member school? Check it out for yourself!

 

Fremont Christian School (PK-8)

Click here to read about a very special chapel on the first day of school at FCS.

Freemont Christian School First Day of School Chapel.

 

Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8)

Click here see the scoop (on Facebook) about how GHC kicked off this school year with a family picnic.

Grand Haven Christian School Back to School Family Picnic

Muskegon Christian School(PK-6)

Click here to find out what’s happening at MCS this Fall.

Muskegeon Christian School

 

New Era Christian School(PK-8)

Click here for an inside look (on Facebook) at how New Era Christian is doing chapel a little different this school year.

New Era Christian School New Chapel Format for 2017

 

Western Michigan Christian (7-12)

Click here to see (on Facebook) how WMC began the year with praise and service.

WMC First Day of West Michigan Christian School Praise & Worship

 

Praying that all WMCS families, faculty, staff, volunteers & students enjoy a wonderfully blessed 2017-18 school year! Will you consider committing to keeping our schools, faculty and students in prayer too? We would be so grateful!

Blessings to YOU, from all of us at West Michigan Christian Schools!

RETAIL FUNDRAISING PARTNERSHIPS Raise Funds for West Michigan Christian Schools

B2 Outlet Stores & DIBS! On Resale Work Together to Support Christian Education

The year 2019 gave WMCS much to celebrate with two ribbon-cutting and prayer blessing events in Muskegon for West Michigan Christian Schools.

The amazing DIBS! On Resale Volunteers

In January 2019, DIBS! On Resale re-opened its doors at a new location. We enjoyed a wonderful showing of WMCS friends and supporters! DIBS! On Resale Manager, Mary Workman spearheaded the move from the former location in Norton Shores to the new one located at 1279 East Apple Avenue.

Seven months later in October 2019, we were delighted to gather again to celebrate the grand opening of our brand new B2 Outlet Store located at 1680 East Apple Avenue.

What is a Retail Fundraising Partner?

Both stores exist to raise funds for WMCS. DIBS! sells gently-used donated clothing, home goods, and furniture while B2 retails new name-brand clothing, shoes and home goods acquired from excess inventory from big box stores. Both stores offer deep discounts to customers, employ locals, and have been warmly embraced by the Muskegon community.

The DIBS! and B2 Outlet Store models complement each other. The income
from DIBS! is a result of heavy volunteer support, product donations, and thrift-shoppers.

B2, which required initial start-up capital from WMCS, thrives on minimal volunteers and bargain shoppers. Both offer local consumers a wide array of product choices and price points.

WMCS CFO Larry Schutt and his wife Jan find some great deals!

The relocation for DIBS! was a wise financial move for WMCS, so much so that the store saved $23,000 from the start. WMCS now owns the building, allowing for property tax exemption plus the new land contract payment is substantially less than the previous lease payment at the Norton Shores location. “I had set a goal of raising $51,000 for the schools this year and we already met that goal by October! We’re on track to reach $75,000!” shares Mary Workman, DIBS! store manager.

I had set a goal of raising $51,000 for the schools this year and we already met that goal by October! We’re on track to reach $75,000!

“Volunteers and donations are critical to our success at DIBS! So please think of us for thrift-shopping, during your own spring cleaning and when you need to earn your school service hours!”

WMC’s Scott Liggett and Kyle Kempster found some name-brand sportswear.

Volunteers and donations are critical to our success at DIBS! So please think of us for thrift-shopping, during your own spring cleaning and when you need to earn your school service hours!

Larry Schutt, WMCS CFO, has similar hopes for B2’s success. “Data from the
existing eighteen B2 Outlet Stores that are primarily in Michigan shows that the Muskegon store should produce an average of $3,000 a month or $36,000 annually in cash for WMCS.” But things are looking even better. The new B2 store exceeded initial sales projections by making $4,000 for WMCS in the first week! The product has been flying off the racks and B2 staff put in overtime to keep the store stocked. “The beauty of the B2 model is the more we make the more the non-profit that store supports makes sense,” explains Kathy Riedl, who opens B2 Outlet Stores all over Michigan.
“This store has the potential to be the most lucrative in the state!”

This store has the potential to be the most lucrative in the state

GHC’s Kristin Clausing shops got some early Christmas shopping done!

Your role? How can you help?

Come on down to Muskegon to visit DIBS! and B2 to shop bargains at both stores! In addition to shopping, you can also donate unwanted items/sort/clean/mend donations at DIBS! and help hang clothes at B2, all in the name of supporting and sustaining excellent Christian education at WMCS!

Shop, Save & Help Your School Win!

It’s a 5-school contest for the 2019-2020 school year! Each of our five West Michigan Christian Schools has a unique bar code, which is to be scanned at check-out at B2 Outlet Store to keep a tally. At the end of the 2019-2020 academic school year, the school with the most cumulative sales will win a $250 shopping spree at B2! Tell the B2 cashier which school you are affiliated with and they will scan the code for you!

DONATE gently-used good to DIBS!

Learn more about VOLUNTEERING!

An abbreviated version of this story was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.