West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Academics

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Johnny Vasquez

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 Johnny Vasquez of Fremont Christian School (PK-6th grade)

In the words of FCS Principal, Nick Donkersloot:

FCS’ very own superhero! Senor Johnny has created a classroom full of students who can accomplish amazing feats just like all the superheroes that plaster the walls of their classroom. When Johnny is not working tirelessly in his classroom, he can be found in the kitchen baking some delicious Puerto Rican treats for his students and colleagues to enjoy.

Enjoying a beautiful day at the park!

Q: Where are you from? 


A: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and graduated in 2007 from the Puerto Rico Baptist College. 

We enjoy serving together at church!

Q: How long have you taught at FCS? 


A: I have taught at Fremont Christian School for 2 years. I started as the 5th-grade Spanish Immersion teacher but this year I was the 4th grade Spanish Immersion teacher. 

We enjoy going out, grabbing something to drink and take a random picture.


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

A: Probably everyone knows this about me but I love movies! I even collect them. I also enjoy reading, music, and art. 

Teaching during this quarantine got us coming up with fun/crazy ideas. So we needed to put on our Grinch onesies and do some reading for our students. It has been fun.

Q: What’s your favorite drink? 

A: My favorite beverage is Dr. Pepper and passion fruit juice. 

Twinning — he picked our outfit for the day!

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 


A: The best part of my day is been around my FCS family. I surely miss that nowadays (during the pandemic shut-down). 

Having fun with my mini-me.

Q: How has God gifted you as a teacher? 


A: I believe the Lord has given me a desire and enjoyment to be around young people. I really like to interact with students and find things in common with them. 


Q: What’s your favorite teaching moment?


A: My favorite teaching moment has been to see how much my students enjoy learning about my culture. I remember last year in November we celebrated the Puerto Rico Discovery Week. They were so excited to learn our traditional music, games, famous places and food. At the end of the week, we enjoyed some Puerto Rican food. They had a blast! I also enjoy seeing how they like to pray for other people’s needs. And not only that, they show extreme joy when they know God has answered our prayers. 

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

A: I am really grateful to work at a place where we can count on each other. Working with people that show the love of Christ. I also like the fact that my family works/studies in FCS, my wife is the 1st-grade Spanish Immersion teacher and our 3-year-old boy goes to the preschool. 

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

A SMALL TOKEN OF APPRECIATION

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

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

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 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 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.

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!

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.”

This article appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools PK-12 Faith Matters Newsletter, Fall 2019 print edition. To read the full newsletter click here.

West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS), is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

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.

Early Adopters Emerge in the West Michigan Christian Schools Teaching for Transformation Program

The Education of a “Peculiar People”

By Jennifer Van Hekken, WMCS PK-8 Curriculum Director & TfT Director

You may have heard the phrase “Teaching for Transformation” thrown around in various school communications and maybe you’re curious what it means.

Teaching for Transformation (TfT) is a program that is being integrated into Christian schools across the country, and we (the WMCS 5-school PK-12 system) are excited to be added to that esteemed list of schools.

The TfT model of education begins with three years of faculty training. Year one begins with eight modules, or lessons, delivered to all WMCS teachers.  In the second year of TfT, twenty-five percent of the staff emerge as early adopters of the program and begin implementing the framework into their classrooms. Year three of TfT focuses on the training of the remaining three-fourths of the staff, moving the early adopters into a training role.

Our faculty is shifting into teaching for the purpose of transformation, not just the transfer of information.

As WMCS enters our second year of training, I’m excited to observe unique teaching and learning already taking shape in our schools. Our faculty is shifting into teaching for the purpose of transformation, not just the transfer of information. Our children experience a lot of noise (literal information overload) and teachers are challenged with competing with that. TfT has a way of breaking through the clutter, creating an emotional and spiritual connection that spurs a deeper learning experience that truly sticks. I am wholeheartedly convinced that this is the right way to do Christian education in the 20th Century!   

Our children experience a lot of noise (literal information overload) and teachers are challenged with competing with that. TfT has a way of breaking through the clutter, creating an emotional and spiritual connection that spurs a deeper learning experience that truly sticks.

At WMCS it is our desire that beyond anything else, our students understand that they are a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) who play an important role in God’s story and are set apart to do “good works which have been laid out for them in advance” (Ephesians 2:10).  TfT equips teachers to weave this concept into all of their lessons, making for an impactful and transformational learning environment. 

I am wholeheartedly convinced that this is the right way to do Christian education in the 20th Century!  

Our early adopters are already capturing this vision in their classrooms through the addition of their Deep Hope for their students and the creation of a Storyline for their classrooms.

WMCS TfT Early Adopters Explain it Best

Athena Findlay (GHC) has chosen the Storyline “Find Your Purpose,” and is reminding her students through all of their English Language Arts studies that, as they read others’ stories, they themselves also play a role in God’s story, and they are challenged to consider their own purpose in that story.

Athena Findley, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a middle school English teacher at Grand Haven Christian School.

Jen Menefee (MCS) has chosen the Storyline “Loved by God,” and spends time in her classroom reminding her students that all of the people groups that they study in Social Studies, as well as every student in the classroom, is loved by God, which changes how they see both themselves and others.

Jen Menefee, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a second-grade teacher at Muskegon Christian School.

Nick Debone (WMC/MCS) has chosen the Storyline “Created to Worship.” He reminds his students that regardless of what type of music they are playing, what instrument they have chosen, and how difficult a piece can be, their ultimate goal is to understand that they were created to worship and that they get to use Band class to live that out. 

Nick DeBone, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a band director at Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School.

Believers are God’s Own Special People

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

As a 5-school PK-12 collaborative, we are so excited about the way that the TfT framework can continue to help us intentionally integrate faith and learning in a way that not only helps our students grow but also brings about transformation in both students’ and teachers’ lives. 

For more information about the WMCS Teaching for Transformation program, please contact us!

This article appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools PK-12 Faith Matters Newsletter, Fall 2019 print edition. To read the full newsletter click here.

West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS), is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

The West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative Annual 2019 Golf Outing

The WMCS Annual Golf Outing is the only fundraising event of the year that benefits all five member schools. It’s so well-attended that the spots are selling out early!

This year we gathered at Chase Hammond Golf Course on September 14, 2019, as the sun started to rise. Our generous sponsors, partners, and supporters arrived ready for a fun day of best-ball golf while raising funds for the WMCS faculty Teaching for Transformation (TfT) program.

WMCS is excited to announce that we’ve raised $35,000 toward our $50k 3-year goal. That puts us right on track as we enter year two of the three-year faculty TfT training.

It’s due to your support and the steadfast generosity of our sponsors that allows WMCS to provide our staff with what they need to provide excellent education for children at our five schools.

We are always humbled by and so grateful for the generous support:

Platinum Sponsors: BettenBaker, Gort & Kraker and Summit Laboratory;

Gold sponsors: Advanced Printing & Graphics, Bishop Heating and Air, B2 Outlets Stores, DIBS! On Resale, and West Coast Pediatric Dentistry.

Silver sponsors: Hometown Pharmacy, B&B Designs, Independent Bank, Bornw Bear, Shelby State Bank. Don Rypma Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, Landscape Design, Country Dairy, Cedar Crest Dairy, and Cornerstone University. 


Envelope Please. And the Winners Are …

1st Place, with a score of 57:

From left to right:
Dean Johnson, Jeremiah Johnson, Daniel Rosema and Caleb Johnson.
Caleb, an all-state golfer in his days at WMC, was also a member of last year’s first-place foursome.

2nd Place, with a score of 59:

From left to right: The Rop brothers: Steve, Stan, Dave and Keith.

3rd Place, with a score of 60:

From left to right:
Kevin Kamphuis, Chad Kamphuis, Caleb Ledger and Adam Ledger.

BETTER TOGETHER: The WMCS Golf Outing is an All-School Effort

Hosted and coordinated by the WMCS Golf Committee,  the event was a collaborative effort led by a representative from each of our 5 schools.  The WMCS Golf Committee included Heidi Snyder of FCSPhil Morse of NECLisa Taylor of MCSKristin Clausing of GHC, Scott Liggett of WMC, and Kimberlee Mitchell, who reps for the WMCS 5-school collaborative.

WMCS thanks all sponsors and everyone who came out to play and help make the event such a success. Be sure to sign up early next year to secure a spot!

WHAT IS WMCS?

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.

OUR PK-12 SCHOOL FAMILY INCLUDES:

Interested in helping West Michigan Christian School reach its Teaching for Transformation fundraising goal?

Please EMAIL US!