West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for 2019-2020

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Mark Hill

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.

In the words of Pastor Samuel Greer, WMC Administrator:

Our WMC middle school students know that they are in for a special treat under the leadership of Mr. Hill. Mark is a treasure of wisdom and knowledge. He is able to adapt to any and every situation. Science and the principles of this universe come alive under the instruction of Mr. Mark Hill.

Celebrating Mark Hill of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: I have nearly completed my first year of teaching at WMC.  Prior to coming to WMC, I taught for 21 years in the public school system.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 7th and 8th-grade science, language arts, and STEM.

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

A: I have two boys.  Andrew graduated from WMC last year and is currently attending Calvin University.  Ethan is in 10th grade at WMC.

Me with my sons Andrew (left) and Ethan (right).

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

A: This is going to sound weird but, the day classes resumed after finding out that Mr. Vredevoogd had passed away.  It was one of the hardest teaching days in my life. However, what turned it into a favorite moment is that we had an opportunity to come together as a community of believers and discuss our faith and how Christ has overcome death.  I have never felt so supported as a teacher than I had that day and I could feel the Holy Spirit working among us.

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

A: My wife Rhonda (DeBoer) (WMC class of ‘92) who teaches at Muskegon Christian School, and her two sisters, Gina (WMC class of ‘86) and Marla (WMC class of ‘89) are also alumni of WMC.  Small world!

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

A: I love coming to work every day to be with the kids- hearing their stories and connecting with them on a more personal level.  It is why I chose the profession I did.

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: Starting our day with a word of prayer.  It gives us a moment to pause and focus and thank God for the day he has set forth before us.

John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (NIV)

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

A: Most people would agree that you have to be a little “different” to teach middle school students.  I LOVE working with this age group! They are so full of life, energy, and questions that you have to be on your toes and ready for anything to happen during the day.

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

A: Vernors!

Q:    How do you feel Teaching for Transformation will augment or re-shape your tactics/approach/perspective as a Christian educator?

A: I am excited to be an early adopter for TfT.  The ability for kids to tie their academic work to their faith is what is truly exciting.  I have been trained in Project-Based Learning (PBL) and TfT gives students the “Greater Why”- we are Servants Called to Serve! 

We are currently looking at body systems and diseases that might affect these systems. Students are in the process of choosing how we want to serve kids their age who may have a disease or medical condition.  Stay tuned to see what they choose!

AS A BELOVED FACULTY MEMBER, MARK 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

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, Mark! 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 in WMC’s Middle School program?

LEARN MORE.

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Grand Haven Christian School’s Hanna Cacciatore

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 Hanna Cacciatore of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Grand Haven Christian School

A quote from Tim Annema GHC Administrator:

Señora Cacciatore is a caring and compassionate wife, mother, and teacher. She daily demonstrates these attributes to her Spanish immersion Kindergarten students. It’s amazing to walk into her classroom after just six months of school and hear her students purely conversing in Spanish. Hanna is a valuable member of our teaching staff and is intentional about building community both before and after the school day with students, parents, and fellow staff members.

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: This is my second year at GHC but my 10th year teaching.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: Kindergarten Spanish Immersion

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

A: My daughter Natalie is in the Young 5’s classroom, my son Daniel will be in preschool next year!

Hanna with her daughter Natalie and son Daniel.

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

A: Last school year we read the story “Un beso en mi mano” (“The Kissing Hand”), after reading the story I had planned on having the students do a craft with a hand tracing and heart but the students really wanted to make a raccoon. Each student had different ideas on how to make a raccoon using different materials, I decided to go with it! It was a lot of fun to see their individual creativity come out, each raccoon turned out differently and it was fun to share them with one another.

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

A: While living in Honduras, my husband and I traveled around Honduras and ventured into Guatemala and Nicaragua. We got to see Mayan ruins, hear Kaqchikel (an indigenous Mayan language), and release baby sea turtles. Before we left Honduras my husband surprised me with a trip to Roatan with our kids and a friend, this was a trip I had wanted for the longest time but didn’t think we would get to before we left Honduras.

The Cacciatore clan at the GH Pier.

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

A: I love seeing the “Aha!” moments and watching the students’ faces light up with new knowledge and connections. I also love seeing the transformation of English to Spanish throughout the year. Most of my students enter the year not knowing any Spanish and leave at the end of the year speaking it fluently.

Q: What’s the best part of your day?

A: The best part of my day is greeting parents and students at the door in the morning. I love seeing the smiling faces and the excitement of the students as they enter the classroom. I love being able to catch up with parents for a minute or two and developing the relationship between home and school.

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

A: My favorite drink is a caramel macchiato from Starbucks.

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

A: I am most grateful for the GHC community: my fellow staff, school administrators, parents, and students. This is only my second year at GHC but it feels like I have always been here. I feel loved and supported by the community and am very blessed to be here at GHC.

As a beloved faculty member, Hanna 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, Hanna! 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 in GHC’s Spanish Immersion program?

LEARN MORE.

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Gladys Pell

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 Gladys Pell of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

A quote from Nick Donkersloot, Fremont Christian School Administrator:

There is no denying the love that Gladys has for music. God has blessed her with a gift that she loves to share with her students. Her passion and joy are evident in how she is able to take our middle school students and turn them into amazing bands and choirs. Gladys is always looking for new and exciting ways to challenge her students. FCS is blessed to have Mrs. Pell. 

Gladys Pell

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: I came to Fremont Christian School in the fall of 1985. I left in 1993 to be home with kids, did some teaching at Fremont Public and Providence Christian HS before coming back to FCS in 2006 and it’s good to be “home.”

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: Currently, I am teaching all bands and choirs in grades 5-8, as well as 7th-grade pre-Algebra. I’ve taught everything from K music to 9th grade German over the years!

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

A: My husband, Dan, and I have 4 kids, all graduates of Fremont Christian School: Michael (FCS ’07, PCHS ‘11) is married to Nicole Ribbens Pell (WMC ’11); Elizabeth (FCS ’10, WMC ’14) is married to Tyler Herlien; Emilee (FCS ’11, WMC ’15) and Hannah (FCS ’14, WMC ’18).

The Pell family celebrated a marriage this past summer.

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

A: In my 2nd year at FCS, I was able to take the Jr. high band to State Festival, where our sight-reading judge was my former 5-12th grade band director, Henry VanderLinde. I had dreamt of being a band director since 6th grade, and to be at Festival with him as our judge, and then to receive a top rating from him was very exciting for me! As a young teacher, it really felt like God was confirming the choices He led me to make for my career!

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

A: I was walking through the Amway Grand Hotel at a recent music teacher convention when a young lady ran out of a business in the hotel and wrapped me in a huge hug! It was a former student who recognized me and wanted me to know how much music class was a positive influence in her life, and the one thing she looked forward to every day in MS and HS. 

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

A: My parents were first-generation immigrants from Germany to the United States. They spoke German at home all the time because they wanted to immerse us in their native language — a great selling point for immersion classes—it works! I can understand almost everything anyone says in German, but please don’t ask me to speak it! Since I don’t use it much, I would most definitely embarrass myself! And…my first trip to Germany was when I was only 18 months old!

The annual TIGER game day!

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

A: The kids. Definitely the kids. And definitely middle school kids. I love being a part of their days, and I love sharing the joy of music with them, even though they don’t always appreciate it. Middle schoolers have so much going on in life, and they have such an excitement for learning. I think Middle school is a time when they have so many opportunities to try new things and I love challenging them to be the best they can be, to the glory of God!

The kids. Definitely the kids. And definitely middle school kids. I love being a part of their days, and I love sharing the joy of music with them, even though they don’t always appreciate it. Middle schoolers have so much going on in life, and they have such an excitement for learning. I think Middle school is a time when they have so many opportunities to try new things and I love challenging them to be the best they can be, to the glory of God!

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: That first cup of hot tea in the morning as I read through my morning devotions and get ready to face the day!

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

A: I have a fairly high tolerance level for noise, which I think is important in what I do. Sometimes musical creativity can be noisy! And, NO…I don’t wear earplugs!

I also feel God has blessed me with an ability to relate to MS kids and love them, even on their difficult days. 

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

A: I would LOVE to get the bands and choirs back into the festival scene, which would give them a greater opportunity to be beauty creators outside of our community. 

Dan & Gladys on an Alaskan vacation celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary!

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

A: My students could answer this one: hot tea! You would be hard-pressed to find me without a cup close by (although often it does get cold….)

I also love a hot cocoa day with my 7/8 Choirs on those cold, Michigan winter days!

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

A: The support of an amazing school community: parents/grandparents, school board, and staff! It is so gratifying to have a team effort in raising kids to understand their role in God’s story!



Q: How do you feel Teaching for Transformation will augment or re-shape your tactics/approach/perspective as a Christian educator?

A: I believe that Teaching for Transformation has been my goal since beginning to teach so many years ago. I love being able to share my faith through music and have always tried to encourage kids to grow in their walk with God through the music we use. I do love the current terminology that reminds us that we are a part of God’s continuing story. It is my prayer that my students will always see the value of music in their lives and how their music choices can impact the world around them. I pray that they will be active participants in worshiping God through music.

Gladys and her husband Dan.

As a beloved faculty member, Gladys 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, Allison, from all of your colleagues at WMCS and the school families!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Gladys! 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 if you should switch your kids to MCS or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? It’s time to start thinking about a school system partner.

LEARN MORE ABOUT US!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Muskegon Christian School’s Allison Westra

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 Allison Westra of Muskegon Christian School (PK-6th grade)

Allison Westra, MCS Preschool Director
Allison Westra, MCS Preschool Director

A quote from MCS principal, Dan DeKam:

MCS has been blessed to have Allison Westra as part of the staff for four years.  She has done an amazing job of coming into the pre-kindergarten position and taking it to the next level of excellence.  Her positive attitude, strong work ethic and love for God and his children make her an excellent colleague and a person parents can entrust with their children.

Q: How many years at MCS?

A: This is my 4th year at MCS.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 4 and 5-year-old preschool or Pre Kindergarten.

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

A: No – I have a 20-month-old and another to be born end of March 

Allison and her son Leeroy.

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

A: I love to sing!

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

A: It is so hard to just pick one thing! 

I love that I can talk about God freely and be surrounded by other believers who are dedicated to growing their faith and being kingdom builders in their daily lives. It is such a joy getting to know families here as well.  It seems the longer I work here the bigger the family I have. MCS creates a strong community. 

Preschool graduation two years ago!  It might be my favorite event of the year! (Other than having to say goodbye to the kiddos.)

What’s the best part of your day? One of my favorite parts of the day is when the students are just arriving in the morning.  I love saying “Good Morning!” and seeing faces light up or run to tell me a story, or that they fell in the parking lot (haha)

I also love ‘center time’ because all of the kids are engaged and learning in different areas of the room. It allows me to work with small groups and really get to know each student. 

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

A: Probably coffee, then water.  

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

A: The other staff and all the family support.  My first year teaching here I remember just being so overwhelmed with the amount of parent support and involvement (in a good way!).  Each year I still have that feeling. We are truly lucky as teachers here.  

Q: Share how you feel about your Teaching For Transformation (TfT) training so far:

A: I am VERY excited about TFT.  It is something that just makes sense as a Christian school. It allows us to teach project-based and through hands-on experiences all through a Christian lens.  As a teacher, what more could you ask for in Christian education? We want something that sets us apart from public schools and can help shape the whole person. 

FUN FACT: 

We own the four local Pizza Ranch restaurants in West Michigan with my father in law and Brett’s (my husband) siblings. 

Brett, Allison, and our Son Leeroy at a family engagement party.  I am also due in March with a baby girl!!

As a beloved faculty member, Allison 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

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

We have a couple small tokens of appreciation for you, Allison! 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 if you should switch your kids to MCS or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? It’s time to start thinking about a school system partner.

LEARN MORE about us!

Does Your Child Need a Fresh Start? Explore New Beginnings at West Michigan Christian Schools PK-12

New Beginnings at WMCS

Today’s youth face a barrage of influences that compete for and invade their attention, at EVERY age.

Give your child a leg up with a fresh start at West Michigan Christian Schools!

At WMCS, the seeds of Truth are sown early and consistently cultivated until the child is rooted and ready for secondary school. Backed up at home, this powerful collaboration gives your child what is needed to grow into a fruit-bearing child of God.

Fresh Take on Timeless Truth

Lakeshore parents have trusted West Michigan Christian Schools for 137 years–not a typo!

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!

Although God’s Word is timeless, how we reach students must be fresh

Our PK-12 school system provides preschoolers through high school seniors, with the fertile soil to transform and thrive spiritually, socially and academically.

The WMCS 5-School System offers:

  • Teaching for Transformation PK-12
  • Spanish Immersion and English programs PreK-6th
  • Preschool (PT and FT options)
  • Kindergarten; English or Spanish Immersion. (PT and FT options)
  • Active learning via STEM & Project-Based Learning (PBL)
  • PK-12 Christian educational experience with Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School

Our schools 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.

Come to West Michigan Christian Schools and give your child the New Beginning he/she needs to bloom!

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, 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).

Go to WMCSchools.org to LEARN MORE and to determine which school is the best match for your family.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian’s Courtney Wolffis

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 Courtney Wolffis of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Phil Morse, NEC’s Administrator shares his thoughts about Courtney:

There isn’t a teacher more centered than Mrs. Wolffis – centered on Christ and student learning while letting kids be kids.

Mrs. Courtney Wolffis – NEC Kindergarten Teacher

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: This is my sixth year teaching at New Era Christian School! My husband David also taught at NEC (3rd/4th) for two years but is now a full-time firefighter for Holland city.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: Kindergarten. I did teach a Kindergarten/1st Grade split one year and it was fun to have some of my students back again.

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

A: My kids are not in school yet. I have a 20-month-old daughter and I am due with my son in June. I did graduate from two member schools, though — Grand Haven Christian School and Western Michigan Christian High School (2007).

A Mackinac get-away in Fall of 2019 with Courtney’s husband David.

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

A: I couldn’t possibly pick just one moment. Although, I look forward to Kindergarten graduation every year. It is such a wonderful display of all the work my students and I have accomplished together over the year. While it is incredibly hard to say goodbye, my heart always wells with pride for them while they sing and share moments of our year together.

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

A: At this point, I haven’t taught long enough for one of my students to graduate from 8th Grade. I do love seeing them in the hall every year though! I still have many students who give me weekly hugs and bring me presents. Last year’s Kindergarten class has been especially thoughtful. They love leaving me surprise notes and drawings!

Exploring Acadia Park in Maine in 2019 with David and little Charlotte.

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

A: By far, the thing I love most about my job is seeing students grow. In their faith, in their social abilities, and academically. The depth of their ability to think and learn grows tremendously during the Kindergarten year. I’m totally biased but I think I teach the best grade!

My daughter Charlotte is 21 months old.
She’ll turn two in June 2020, the same week our son is due!

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: The best part of my day (currently) is teaching Science. It’s not something I’ve totally loved in the past but with a small class, we’ve really been able to dig deeper into lessons. My students and I have a fun routine where we pretend to get on our science gear before every lesson.

We are also connecting our learning to one of the Teaching for Transformation through lines, being Creation Enjoyers. They ask me every day now, “When do we get to be creation enjoyers again?! Is it science time yet?” I love that!

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

A: I believe the Lord has gifted me with the ability to be flexible. In my teaching, that allows me to look at certain situations through a variety of lenses.

I’m not afraid to try something new if it’s not working for my class or even just for one student. I get excited about individualizing my teaching whenever I can.

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

A: I’d love to be closer to the school. I currently live in Grand Haven and drive about 50 minutes one way to get to NECS! It can be difficult to be that far away from the school community.

David, Charlotte and Courtney Wolffis.

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

A: Well-water from her home.“Ice cold is the best”

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

A: Good leadership and an extremely tight-knit school community. I feel so supported by everyone! I’ve truly become friends with a lot of the parents in our school over the years too. That makes a huge difference in their ability to trust me and my ability to successfully teach their children.

As a beloved faculty member, Courtney is a 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 Courtney, from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you!

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, Robin!

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 partnering with WMCS for PK-12 Christian education!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian’s Robin Tyink

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 Robin Tyink of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Pastor Samuel Greer, WMC’s Administrator shares his thoughts about Robin:

The department of English and Language Arts is led by one of WMC’s finest — Mrs. Robin Tyink.  Robin is an outstanding member of the teaching staff here at Western Michigan Christian Middle & High School.  Robin’s commitment to the art of instruction from a Christian perspective is a bright and shining light in the lives of our students.  

Not only is Robin excellent in the classroom, but she is also actively involved in the social and spiritual culture of our school.  She is the current winner of the Project Grace award, an early adopter of Teaching for Transformation and often leads in chapel presentations to share with us her excitement concerning the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  

It is my honor and privilege to proclaim Robin Tyink, this week’s WMCS Teacher Tuesday feature!  

Q: How many years have you taught at WMC?

A: This is my sixth year at WMC, but my 18th year teaching. 

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach English 9, AP Language & Composition, and AP Literature and Composition

Q: Do you have kids?

A: I have a kindergartner, Isaac, and sixth-grader, Natalee, at Fremont Christian School (PK-8th), one of the feeders schools to WMC.

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

A: Project Grace this year (2019) was just awesome.  To see how God moved through my group of seniors was truly awe-inspiring.  They worked together in order to meet their goal and did so by organizing pop can drives, bake sales and more.  They were able to raise over $6000. It was such a blessing to deliver gifts with them this year. 

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

A: I love theatre.  As a family, we love to go to plays and musicals. Also, my family lives at a summer camp all year long.  My husband, Scott, is the Facilities Director at Camp Echo. This means we get to live at camp! I work at the camp store during the summer and literally sell thousands of ice cream cookie sandwiches!

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

A: I love building relationships with my students.  I love to know what is going on in their lives and being able to share what is going on in mine with them. 

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

A: I am a voracious reader.  God has instilled this joy in me, and I love to share my enthusiasm for books with my students. 

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

A: Coke! 

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

A: I am so grateful for the caring community at WMC.  The students and staff truly form a family here. 

Q: As we enter year two in Teaching for Transformation, what are your thoughts on TfT?

A: I am so excited about TfT.  As an early adopter, I have been on the ground floor with this project.  I am excited about how TfT allows us as teachers to authentically show our students how faith connects with their academic learning.  TfT allows us to fill a real need, for real people by doing real work! As AP Lit beings Frankenstein in March, we will be discussing what people and events influence our personal stories.  These students will then be teaming up with a WMC middle school classroom to help them write their own stories. 

As a beloved faculty member, Robin 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 Robin, from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple small tokens of appreciation for you, Robin! 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, Robin!

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 partnering with WMCS for PK-12 Christian education!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Grand Haven Christian School’s Wailand Groenendyk

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 Wailand Groenendyk of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

In the words of GHC Principal Tim Annema:

Wailand has had a tremendous impact on my life, as a colleague and also as a husband and father of four boys. Wailand is calm, quiet, and soft-spoken outside of the classroom, but when the room fills with students his passion for kids, specifically middle school students, and God’s Word is evident. I have marveled over the years at his ability to teach Scripture while also speaking to the hearts of those in his classroom. Wailand is creative and a great leader of the middle school team at GHC.

Q & A with Wailand Groenendyk:

Q: How many years have you taught at GHC?

A: I have been a teacher at Grand Haven Christian School for 40 years.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: My first class was 5/6 grade, split class. For several years I taught 6th grade as a self-contained classroom. When GHCS transitioned from a K-9  to PS-8, I began teaching in the Middle School. I have taught 6th grade Bible and Social Studies, 7th grade Bible and Social Studies, 8th grade Bible and History and 9th grade Bible.  Currently, I am the Sixth Grade homeroom teacher and am teaching 6th Bible, 7th Bible, and 8th Bible & American History.

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

A: While attending Calvin College, I met my wife Jean (GHC co-worker Mr. Mark Brondyke’s sister). We have four sons and three daughters-in-law as well as seven grandchildren.  All of our sons (Tad, Casey, Will & Tully) attended GHCS K-8th grade and each also graduated from Western Michigan Christian High School. Tad attended Mid America Seminary and hopes to be a pastor,  Casey works for Bekins Appliances, Will is a web designer, and Tully teaches 5th Grade at Grand Rapids Christian School.  


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

A: Leading the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders through the Bible over three years is an absolute delight. To take them from Genesis to Revelation on a journey that helps them see the beautiful design of our Sovereign God opens up opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and lives. 

Teaching Living Through History is also a fabulous experience. When the kids connect their emotions to the content of American History and “feel” what it was like to have a tyrant King, crops destroyed, investments flourish, and gold fever they connect with those who paved the way before them.  There have been so many “Ah-ha” moments over the years like when I (as King G) was taxing the daylights out of the student colonies, they got so fed up they actually stood up in class and began singing the Star Spangled Banner, after which they promptly declared their independence! 

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

C:\Users\Wailand\Desktop\20190317_145549.jpg

A1: Last year’s Winterim, I “taught” the Bob Ross method of oil painting for a group of middle schoolers. It was a blast!  I have been dabbling with the oil paints since and have had some success in producing “art” that actually looks like art.

Maranda visits with “Bob Ross” (AKA Wailand Groenendyk)

A2: For twenty-three years I have taught “summer school” at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids. I am technically a Title I tutor and I work with the adolescent boys in the Residential Treatment program.

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

A: The thing about my job I love the most are the middle school kids. They are so multifaceted; walking with them is like walking through a field of diamonds.  They gleam, beam, reflect, can be rough, can be tough, can be a solitaire, perhaps shine best in a bunch or just need a little polishing. There’s a part of kids that is so predictable that you can use that predictability to make successful teaching moments. Then there’s that unpredictability where a kid will come up with a “new” insight that also makes for a great learning experience.

Isaiah makes a visit to Mr. G’s classroom!

Kids are fun and funny. Nearly every day the students will provide an opportunity to experience joy, Sometimes it’s a muffled chuckled; other times the laughter can’t be contained. Kids are a challenge. They make you think. They keep you on your toes. They figure out new angles just when you think you have all the angles covered.  Middle School kids have a keen sense of justice and will hold teachers to high standards for fairness. While middle schoolers can be brutally honest, they are also quick to forgive and forget. What a blessing!

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

A: The older I get the more I can see the evidence of God’s providence.  My fifth-grade science teacher was Mr. Ron Zoet at West Side Christian School (Walker Building). Ron inspired me to be a teacher. Twelve years later, God, in His providence, brought me to a teaching position in the school where Ron Zoet was the principal. That was 40 years ago. My story has been unfolding in marvelous ways that I could not even have begun to imagine. God has taught me the patience needed to be a teacher, given me a measure of wisdom, and a love for learning.

King G of Blue Island also shows up once in a while.

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


A: Vernors!

Image result for vernors

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

A: I am grateful for the people I work with. We truly are like family. I genuinely enjoy being a part of the staff and family of Grand Haven Christian School.  Our parents are supportive and caring. The school climate at GHC is “WE” not us and them.

My colleagues and me on “Dress Like Your Grandparent Day.”
A proud grandpa and three of his grandsons.
My wife, kids, and grandkids on Memorial Day. “I am a blessed man.”

As a beloved faculty member, Wailand 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 Wailand, from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple small tokens of appreciation for you, Wailand! 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, Wailand!

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!

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.