West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Project Based Learning

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Paula DeRoos

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

Every Tuesday throughout the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight one of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and 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 Paula DeRoos of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Paule and her white Bichon Grace.

Paula and her best buddy Gracie.

The 2018-19 school year was Paula’s first year teaching at New Era Christian School. She teaches 3rd and 4th-grade. Being that she is from the Holland/Zeeland area, her children attended Borculo Christian and Zeeland West High School.

Paula graduated from Northwestern College with a B.A. in Education and English. After that, she attended Western Michigan University for her counseling masters and to Grand Valley State University for a masters in Educational Leadership.

In public education, Paula worked as a middle school teacher, high school teacher and counselor, reading coach, a district union president, and a high school principal.  In Christian education, she currently works at Cornerstone University as a part-time professor and has been a middle school teacher and principal. Paula retired from public school education as a high school principal in 2015.

She and her husband Kevin DeRoos plan to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Germany this summer.

Kevin and Paula and Lucy an infant

Kevin and Paula and their great-niece Lucy.

They have two grown daughters: Lindsey Castro and her husband Carlos who live in Harper Creek, MI and Kelsey DeRoos, who just graduated from GVSU. Animal lovers, they have three-quarter horses and two dogs.

Paula and Horse in pasture.

Paula and Hot Rod, one of her quarter horses, in the pasture.

Paula brings a vast amount of expertise to NEC and we are so grateful!

Q & A w/ Paula:

1. Q: What’s your favorite teaching moment to date?

A: The lesson of tithing first gifts to God had been our focus in the day’s Bible lesson.  For science, students brought in many types of rocks and I had ordered Geodes for all of them.

That day, we had fun cracking the rocks open and learning what caused the crystal formation. A fellow teacher came out of her room hysterically laughing. She heard this conversation with two of my boys.

One boy said, “Those aren’t just crystals. Mrs. DeRoos is wrong. They’re diamonds! I’m going to sell mine and make a lot of money. What are you going to  do?”New Era Christian School Store

The other boy said, “I’m going to sell mine too, and buy a new Xbox with my money.  What are you going to do with yours?”

The first young man said, “Wait a minute.  We’d better give some to the school, you know the first gift goes to God. They gave us the rocks. They are going to do an addition.  We can really make it really cool! Then I’ll buy my PS 4.”

We’d better give some to the school, you know the first gift goes to God. They gave us the rocks. They are going to do an addition.  We can really make it really cool! Then I’ll buy my PS 4.

2.   Q: What is the best part of your day? 

A: I love our opening day devotions.  The children pick two praise songs they love and sing their hearts out. The students create choreography for each song. We say the memory verse together, read a devotion, talk about praises and prayer requests in our life and pray.  It is such a special time for us with God and each other.

Daughters Lindsey and Kelsey take a selfie with Kevin and Paula.

Daughters Lindsey and Kelsey take a selfie with Kevin and Paula.

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

A: Phil Morse (NEC principal) and I met through our common mentor, Jack Postma.  I am thankful for both of them! Jack connected me to Phil when he needed a teacher, and I wanted to continue teaching little kids.  

I had been a principal for several years but wanted the joy of being with the kids again. Jack told me, “You will know you are in the right place to which God has called you when the deepest gladness of your heart meets the deep hunger of the world.” I feel that every day at New Era Christian.

You will know you are in the right place to which God has called you when the deepest gladness of your heart meets the deep hunger of the world.

Jack passed away after his fifth victory with cancer on October 26th, 2018. He would have loved to see God’s continued work at New Era Christian School, a place he loved, the right place to which God has called us!

Paula fishing in Colorado

Paula fishing in Colorado.

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

A: Diet Cherry Coke with a bit of fizz and a cherry on top!

diet cherry coke

As a beloved faculty member, Paula is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Paula and the amazing Kingdom work she does at NEC.

Paula, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) 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.

Service-Learning Means Fellowship at New Era Christian School

Peer-to-Peer: Sometimes Just Being a Friend is All Someone Needs

Every month, our 7th and 8th-grade students partner with a group of middle school students from the Oceana County area who have diverse learning abilities.

They all meet at The Ladder Community Center in Shelby. The Ladder is a friendly, intergenerational and ethnically diverse community center aimed at knowing and serving our neighbors and uniting our community around Christ so that lives are transformed. The Ladder is dedicated to impacting families by guiding people to love and follow Jesus, making the organization a great partner for NEC’s service-learning program.

 

The students of New Era Christian School come to the community center to enjoy their peers and build them up by spending quality time together and just having fun. Their activities range from old school games like pool and puzzles to getting creative with a giant game of spoons, four corners, among other things.

“My students are always so excited to be with the other kiddos!  They enjoy connecting with others just like typical kiddo!!  It has been a great experience for all.  I enjoy sitting back and watching the kids be kids!” shared Tonya Springer, of West Shore Educational Service District. West Shore ESD is a resource for all schools in the area and NEC works in partnership with them so they can all connect at The Ladder each month.

My students are always so excited to be with the other kiddos!  They enjoy connecting with others just like a typical kiddo!!  It has been a great experience for all.  I enjoy sitting back and watching the kids be kids!

This year they all performed Christmas carols using only their voices and spoons! It was a great time had by all. Nothing fancy. The key was the kids were present. No cell phones–simply face to face contact. Everyone connects and has a great time of laughter and fellowship. Being a friend to someone and playing together creates a powerful connection — for both the NEC students AND the kids that come to The Ladder. 

A few NEC students shared their reflections on their personal experiences at The Ladder this year:

“That day is a really big day for me. I usually hang out with Crystal. I don’t know what her disability is exactly, but she seems disconnected and younger than a typical fourteen-year-old. She is incredible at drawing and when we did a puzzle she did more than half the puzzle! I also was around another girl, Sharon, who is with autism. She seemed very shy and you could tell what she means by her hand motions more than her words. Overall, it has been a life changing experience to realize that everyone struggles with something but some things are more visible than others. They are still a child loved by God.” – NEC 8th grader Anna Morse.

“The Ladder is very fun. It is also very humbling because I have good social skills, I can run, and I get invited to parties. Gary and Rick struggle with those things.  I almost wanted to cry because of how humbled I was.  It makes me more sensitive to make sure all kids feel included.” -NEC 7th grader Brody Erickson.

This has been a great opportunity for our students to serve Jesus by serving others. It’s technically service-learning for NEC students but everyone is blessed in this win-win situation!

About NEC

Located in beautiful New Era, Michigan, New Era Christian School serves student preschool through 8th-grade. Of the many important decisions you’ll make in life, few are more significant than the ones that affect your children. Of these choices, selecting a school may well prove to be the most important. NEC exists to grow students in faith, academics, and personal maturity. To learn more about NEC contact us! 

New Era Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Western Michigan Christian (7-12), 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.

If you and your children are not already a part of the WMCS family, please prayerfully consider the PK-12 private Christian education of West Michigan Christian Schools for your children!

CONTACT US today for more information!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Debbie Braak

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

Every Tuesday throughout the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight one of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and 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 Debbie Braak of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Debbie Braak began teaching at New Era Christian School in September of 2015.  She has twenty plus years teaching under her belt with much of it spent at Grand Haven Christian.  To prepare her for her teaching career, she received a B.A. in Elementary Education with a Language Arts composite minor from Hope College.head_shot_Deb_Braak

Deb grew up in Portage and attended Kalamazoo Christian. She has been married to her husband Dan for twenty-five years and they have two children who attended Grand Haven Christian School PK-8th grade. Sam is a freshman at Calvin College and Audrey is a sophomore at Western Michigan Christian High School. 

“I love teaching in a Christian school where God is at the center of everything we do. I love watching these young children grow spiritually as they grow in their faith and love for Jesus and for each other,” shares Deb.

Debbie was made for this role as a Christian education teacher and she is so very gifted! 

Q & A w/ Debbie:

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

In my classroom, I use a variety of loose parts from gems and jewels to plank boards. One day a bunch of 3-year-olds were playing with cars and they wanted to make ramps. They got out the wood planks, set them up against the chair and they had a ramp. They happily zoomed their cars down the ramp to see whose car could go the furthest.

One little boy went over to where we keep the loose parts and found an empty tape roll and brought it over to the ramp. He proceeded to roll the tape roll down the ramp and to his amazement it rolled all the way across the room. He came running up and said to me, “ I just had the best idea about how to use the ramp. Come and I will show you my great idea!” He was so proud of himself for figuring out a new use for the ramp. 

This may not seem like a great teaching moment.  In preschool, when children explore and discover how different things work, and figure it out on their own, it is a victory and the overall purpose of loose parts play.

New Era Christian School

 

2. What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

I love to travel!  One of my all-time favorite vacations was taken after college when I went to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. 

3.   What do you love most about your job and why? 

I honestly love everything about my job. The preschoolers are so fun to teach and there are never two days exactly the same. One of my favorite things is my outdoor learning space. Seeing the children play in nature, explore and discover the world that God created is such a blessing. Watching them play in the mud kitchen or working together to figure out how to ride a cable drum like a horse and not fall off is so rewarding. I feel very fortunate to be able to provide this type of education for my preschoolers.

I honestly love everything about my job. The preschoolers are so fun to teach and there are never two days exactly the same.

children_climbing_on_wood_palette_outside

Deb’s students during Outdoor Learning at NEC.

4. What’s the best part of your day?

The best part of my day is our Bible time and the amazing questions these little people ask. They have so much love for Jesus in their hearts.

They have so much love for Jesus in their hearts.

Audrey_and_Sam_Braak

Deb’s kids Audrey, a sophomore at WMC and Sam Braak, a freshman at Calvin.

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

God has given me the gift being young at heart and also very patient. I love to play with my preschoolers and get messy right along with them. I also am very understanding of this age group.  I am able to relate to them and comfort them when they are upset and help them make good choices in the room. I always tell my parents that in preschool you never know what will happen and you need to be flexible and be able to change an activity very quickly if something is not working. 

God has given me the gift being young at heart and also very patient. I love to play with my preschoolers and get messy right along with them.

little_girl_in-pink_playing_in_outdoor_kitchen

Outdoor Learning at NEC

6. What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage? 

Cherry Coke. Not just any cherry coke. It has to be coke made with grenadine. That is the best!!

can_of_cherry_coke

7.   What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

One of the things I am most grateful for is the wonderful parents of the students!  They support the things we do in the classroom and do not mind if their child comes home covered in paint or mud. I am also grateful for our principal, Phil Morse, who is super supportive of my passion for outdoor learning and allows me to grow this program. 
 
One of the things I am most grateful for is the wonderful parents of the students!  They support the things we do in the classroom and do not mind if their child comes home covered in paint or mud.
child_playing_in_garden_by _ence

Outdoor Learning in the “Sound Garden.”

As a beloved faculty member, Deb is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Deb and the amazing Kingdom work she does at NEC.

Deb, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) 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.

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Alyssa McKeiver

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

Every Tuesday throughout the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative will highlight one of our very special teachers from all five schools.

We have so many gifted faculty members who work tirelessly to train up students at all PK-12th-grade levels. They use their giftedness and 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 Alyssa McKeiver of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Alyssa McKeiver joined the NEC faculty in 2016. She enjoys teaching all subjects to her 5th and 6th-grade students.  A graduate from Allendale Christian and Unity Christian High School, she loves her work in Christian education. Alyssa is kind enough to share her favorite pet with her students! Bowtruckle the hedgehog is loved by many! Enjoy getting to know her a bit more!

Q & A w/ Alyssa

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

My favorite teaching moment was probably our Good Friday/Easter chapel two years ago. My students were singing “In Christ Alone” and we had been practicing the build of volume on the line, “Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again,” to really emphasize the joy and the power that goes with those words. On the day of the chapel, the students built on that line and belted out, “And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.” It was such a powerful and beautiful moment seeing those children BELIEVE and share those words. That is something I will never forget.

New Era Christian School

On the day of the chapel, the students built on that line and belted out, “And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.” It was such a powerful and beautiful moment seeing those children BELIEVE and share those words. That is something I will never forget.

 

 

  1.    What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

My principal’s wife actually set me up with my now-husband! She worked on the same floor as him at the hospital and I was her daughter’s teacher, but it was still the fall of my first year and she just had a feeling we would work out.

We’ve been together over 2 years now and got married on December 29th, 2018!

 

 

 

  1.    What do you love most about your job and why? 

I love being able to be with my students who are 5th and 6th graders for every subject. The consistency and relationships that are built because of it are truly something I treasure and something that I think most students need at that age. They need someone to come to when life gets rough and they need to build organization skills and take ownership of their learning. Having them all day allows me to help with these things and I get to know them.

They need someone to come to when life gets rough and they need to build organization skills and take ownership of their learning. Having them all day allows me to help with these things and I get to know them.

  1.    What’s the best part of your day? 

The best part of my day is the in-class read-aloud. I love watching the students fall in love with a book and its characters and I especially love when the students beg me to keep reading. I know they are just as invested in the book as I am and we make a strong connection because of it.

The best part of my day is the in-class read-aloud. I love watching the students fall in love with a book and its characters and I especially love when the students beg me to keep reading. I know they are just as invested in the book as I am and we make a strong connection because of it.

 

 

  1.    What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage? 

  Either Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper

 

 

 

 

9.   What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

I am most grateful for the connections I have with my students and fellow teachers. I have students that were in my class previous years come to find me every morning before school starts to give me a hug and an update on their life. Sometimes there are smiles, sometimes tears, sometimes frustration, but knowing that I am a safe place for them whether they are in my class or not is what I am most thankful for.

I am most grateful for the connections I have with my students and fellow teachers. I have students that were in my class previous years come to find me every morning before school starts to give me a hug and an update on their life. Sometimes there are smiles, sometimes tears, sometimes frustration, but knowing that I am a safe place for them whether they are in my class or not is what I am most thankful for.

Alyssa’s class attended her wedding! A special night for all!

As a beloved faculty member, Alyssa is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Alyssa and the amazing Kingdom work she does at NEC.

Alyssa, in celebration of YOU and Teacher Tuesday, DIBS! On Resale would like to say “Thank You!” with $10 in DIBS! Dollars!

Please check in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this gift!

Did you hear? GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING at DIBS! and $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop!

Recently relocated to a new store in Muskegon, DIBS! On Resale opened its doors in 2012 to benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) 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.

 

 

New Era Christian School Takes the Preschool Classroom Outside

Outdoor Education Space at NEC Allows Preschoolers to Explore and Learn with Nature

New Era Christian SchoolOutdoor education allows children to connect with nature and enjoy His Creation. It provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and to be creative with different materials made available to them. When playing in the outdoor education space, children are encouraged to use their problem-solving skills, ask questions, and work closely with their peers. The activities are open-ended, which allows them to determine how to play with the materials provided.

In a recent time outside, the preschoolers at New Era Christian School excitedly used loose parts and chalk to create and design faces, flowers, animals, designs, and other objects.

A large tractor tire suddenly became a tent and they used golf tees and string to create different rooms coming off from the tire. Students also added a “bonfire” using hula hoops as the pit and sticks as the “fire”. This type of play was strictly child-directed. They came up with this idea on their own and worked together to turn the tire into a tent and camping area.

Besides learning ABC’s and 123’s, learning through play is an important part of preschool. We are excited to create an outdoor learning space where this type of learning can take place.

Interested in learning more about New Era Christian School’s preschool or Kindergarten program?

ASK US!

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.

Project Based Learning at Muskegon Christian School

MCS’s PBL Provides Authenticity: Students in Real Work, with a Real Need, for a Real Audience

Touring a new family around Muskegon Christian School is one of the best parts Sonya Doty’s job.  

That might surprise you. But throughout their conversation, she gets the opportunity to demonstrate how MCS serves the variety of students whom God sends their way.  “When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education,” explains Doty, Development Director at MCS.   

When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education.



Project Based Learning (PBL) was one innovative teaching tool that MCS incorporated into the curriculum this year.  PBL involves students in real work, with a real need, for a real audience.  Teachers begin by proposing a problem to be addressed. Each project has a checklist of features (a rubric) describing the success criteria, and teachers plan lessons that teach skills and content needed to complete the project.

How does that work in the classroom?  Kari Bonnema’s Kindergarten class was studying a farm animal unit and did some activities one might expect – going to Country Dairy on a field trip and writing/illustrating a short book on a chosen farm animal. But the culmination of this unit was the challenge of Designing a Chicken Coop formed around the question “If Mr. DeKam allowed us to have pet chickens at MCS, what kind of chicken coop would you build?” Kindergarteners worked with their 5th-grade book buddy to design the chicken coop, draw the coops out on big poster papers and answer questions about why they made certain design decisions.  Then they built a model (out of Legos, wooden blocks or Lincoln logs) based on their design and then shared their projects with other students.

As Kari shares, this PBL project was simple but impactful.  “The kids loved it and really got into it, demonstrating that they understood what factors were necessary to raise happy healthy chickens.  One student even wanted to build his designed chicken coop at home!  For real!  With wood!”

Muskegon Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS),  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, the schools work together to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian Education in West Michigan.

At WMCS, everything we do is from the perspective of a Christ-centered worldview. We not only ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”  we show our students “What Jesus Says” as it relates to the classroom, the athletic field and the community we serve. WMCS extends “Beyond Academics” and educates the whole child, putting Christ at the center of all we do. Academically, we perform with excellence, with top local and nationally standardized test scores.

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) together strive to:

Create a seamless, exemplary Christian educational experience for families in Western Michigan from preschool through high school. Provide excellent Christian education rooted in the gospel to all who desire it. Provide a model of collaboration that will serve as a roadmap for other Christian educational communities.

To learn more about West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) click here and for more information about WMCS Membership or Partnership contact WMCS.