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WMCS Says Goodbye to Two of the Fab Five Administrators

FCS’s John Barkel and GHC’s James Onderlinde Continue Their Christian Education Careers in GR

The end of the 2018-19 schools year brought a new beginning for two of our own.

John Barkel of Fremont Christian School will be starting as Head of School for Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School and James Onderlinde of Grand Haven Christian School will take on the new role of administrator for Byron Center Christian Elementary.

James Onderlinde's Family portrait

The Onderlinde family.

WMCS Collab Exec Director Dan DeKam and principal of Muskegon Christian School said this of his colleagues, “John is one of the great ones. His heart for his students was evident in how he genuinely delighted in his work. He will be missed and I wish him well on his new journey. Since 2014, James has tirelessly and virtuously led his staff, community, faculty. and students of GHC. His forward-thinking choice to launch Spanish Immersion marked GHC as the first and only school in the Tri-cities area to teach language immersion and it raised GHC’s enrollment exponentially. We’re grateful for his service and better for it. My fellow administrators, Samuel Greer (WMC), Phil Morse (NEC) and I will miss them both!”

John Barkel and his Family

The Barkel family.

We will all dearly miss John and James. Always moving forward, we are EXCITED to see how God will work these departures for the WMCS good—starting with the promotion of FCS’s own Nick Donkersloot, who is following in the footsteps of his own father and achieving a lifetime career goal with this new appointment. WMCS will announce the replacement for James once that has been determined.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.

All of us at West Michigan Christian Schools wish many blessings to both John and James in their Kingdom work ahead. Please join us in saying a prayer for a smooth transition for each of these great men in their Christian education careers!

Interested in learning more about our 5-school faith-based education from preschool to 12th grade?

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), New Era Christian (PK-8), and Western Michigan Christian (7-12). 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.

West Michigan Christian Schools Complete Year One of Teaching for Transformation Training

TfT is Deeper Learning with a Christian Theme

Being able to share the Gospel in the classroom is a gift and a privilege, so we want to make sure our faculty achieves this to the best of their God-given ability.

TfT offers teachers expert deeper-learning tools to better instruct in a way that engages the student and creates lasting transformation. 

This requires a shift to new way of thinking and teaching. That said, year one of TfT training has been introductory. The early adopters to the training framework have already been identified and they will be given additional training.

To help explain this sophisticated program and why we chose to embark on it for WMCS, we asked our TfT Coach Amanda Albright the following questions:

  1. How does TfT already enhance what is already distinctly Christian education at WMCS?
  2. What does TfT do for teachers and schools?
  3. How do student benefit from experiencing TfT in the classroom?

What is TfT?

The TfT program, as developed by The Prairie Centre for Christian Education (PCCE), provides a framework for the development of authentic and integral Christian learning experiences that are grounded in a transformational worldview with a focus on seeing and living out God’s story. The TfT program is currently being used by over fifty schools worldwide (Canada, United States, Africa, and Central America).

TfT adeptly and strategically gives our teachers the tools, training, and knowledge to make sure their class time shares a compelling vision of the Kingdom, one that also creates a longing and desire within every student to engage and be an integral part in God’s unfolding plan.

The funds raised at the Annual WMCS Golf Outing go toward Teaching for Transformation costs. 

Interested in donating toward TfT? Become a WMCS Golf Outing 2018 Sponsor!

LEARN HOW!

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.

West Michigan Christian Schools: 2019 Year in Review

Dear WMCS Families, Alumni & Friends,

This spring, the faculty from our West Michigan Schools collaborative members reconvened for training on Teaching for Transformation.
It’s during this time when we are all together that I become the most passionate about the significant way that God is using our schools in West Michigan. 
group staff photo

Faculty from all five West Michigan Christian Schools.

It is also at these meetings that I am moved to be thankful for the tremendous people with whom I am blessed to work. 

The teachers of the WMCS collaborative are committed individuals who are striving diligently to help the children in our schools come to embody what it looks like to know and love God in our contemporary society.
The teachers of the WMCS collaborative are committed individuals who are striving diligently to help the children in our schools come to embody what it looks like to know and love God in our contemporary society. 
They truly are the heart of WMCS!
I wish all of our parents could sit in on some of these trainings and hear these educators talk about their deep love for the students.  I wish parents could hear them discuss how their love for the students instills in them a hope that all of their students can find their worth in who they are as children of the living God. And then, in turn, that they can be inspired to live a life of gratitude and work diligently to make this world more as God would have it to be – wherever God calls them.

God has blessed our schools with some tremendous educators with a passion for their students.  We could not ask for better allies in raising our children.

God has blessed our schools with some tremendous educators with a passion for their students.  We could not ask for better allies in raising our children.
This spring we launched Teacher Tuesday, a Q&A style feature of select WMCS faculty from each school designed to highlight and encourage. It’s also a great way for YOU to get to know our WMCS teachers in Fremont, New Era, Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Norton Shores!
To read all 2019 Teacher Tuesday posts, click here then go to the SELECT CATEGORY drop-down and choose Faith Matters.

A special congratulations to all the WMCS grads! Thank you all for your support of and prayers for Christian education!

Have a GREAT summer!

In His Service,

Dan DeKam
Executive Director of the WMCS Collaborative

Interested in learning more about our 5-school faith-based education from preschool to 12th grade?

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), New Era Christian (PK-8), and Western Michigan Christian (7-12). 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.

Grand Haven Christian School Students Discover Purpose in Service Learning

A heart for Service: Many Hands Working Together Lightens the Load

“Educating minds and shaping hearts for service to God in His world” is the mission statement of Grand Haven Christian (GHC).

Creating multiple opportunities for our students to serve within our community, based on their spiritual gifts, is instilling an awareness of needs in our world and a desire to meet those needs.

Middle school student, Matthew Bradford-Royle, has been serving at Grand Pines Assisted Living based on his spiritual gifts inventory. Meeting with the residents has been helpful to them and has made an impact on their lives through the activities completed, but the transformation in Matthew’s heart has been the hope of all service experiences provided at GHC.

Middle school student talking with elderly woman in wheelchair at table.

Matthew Bradford-Royle talking with a guest at Grand Pines Assisted Living.

“What I enjoy most about service learning is meeting new people and helping elderly people with things they struggle with. I try and make it as fun as it can be. It brings me joy to help others just like Jesus would. I actually want to work there as soon as I can. I am trying to volunteer there in my free time over the summer for the experience of helping others and because I enjoy being there. I get to know the residents better and they can learn more about me. Through this service, it made me realize that even if we’re younger, we can make a big impact on others and the community,” explains Mathew, who is a 6th grader at GHC.

What I enjoy most about service learning is meeting new people and helping elderly people with things they struggle with. I try and make it as fun as it can be. It brings me joy to help others just like Jesus would. I actually want to work there as soon as I can. I am trying to volunteer there in my free time over the summer for the experience of helping others and because I enjoy being there. I get to know the residents better and they can learn more about me. Through this service, it made me realize that even if we’re younger, we can make a big impact on others and the community.

Seeing the difference our service can make in the community has been eye-opening for other students as well. Yasmin VanderHeide was part of a group that recently sorted food that was picked up from the recent USPS Food Drive at Love in Action. A group of students sorted food for an hour and a half, but as they were finishing up, someone did the math and figured out that it would’ve taken one person 14 hours to do what they did in less than 2. For Yasmin, seeing how many hands truly did make the work so much lighter in such a tangible way, prompted her to realize how their work is really making a difference.

As students at GHC, from as young as preschool through 8th grade, the service-learning experiences are creating transformation in the hearts and minds of our students to see how serving others is changing them, just as much as it is helping the people we serve.

 About GHC

Located in beautiful Grand Haven, Michigan, Grand Haven Christian School offers the most comprehensive Christian day school program in the area. Teaching from the Reformed perspective that emphasizes Jesus as Lord of all areas of life, we offer classes for students preschool through 8th-grade in all regular academic disciplines as well as physical education, band, choir, music, visual arts, computer technology, and introductory Spanish. Contact GHC today for more information! 

Grand Haven 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!

The 2019 Graduates of West Michigan Christian Schools

Congratulations to all 2019 Graduates of the WMCS School Family!

Bravo! We had a lot to celebrate this year at West Michigan Christian Schools. Below is a breakdown of 6th (MCS only), 8th, and 12th-grade graduates of each WMCS member school:

8th grade grads from Fremont Christian School on jungle gym

Fremont Christian School’s 8th Grade Graduating Class 2019:

Grace Boisvert
Kiarrah Bridges
Lydia Deters
Madelyn DeWeerd
Christa Hale
Landon Heykoop
Caleb Pell
Keagen Rich
Mia Rivera
Gary Springstead
Josie Visser
Sydney Wagenmaker
Jacob Walker
Matthew Whemple
Reis Wiersema
Morgan Woods
Landon Bartilameoli

GHC 2019 Grads

Grand Haven Christian School’s 8th Grade Graduating Class 2019:

Jaden Binnendyk
Jonathan Clausing
Makaela Crum
Ben DeGram
Meralee Detar
Ellie Dyk
Michaela Faith
Ainslie Granzetto
Casey Guthrie
Staci Krieger
Emma Leahy
Emily Matz
Austin Meiste
Libby Miedema
Olivia Roberts
Makenna Sytsma
Brianna Zuidema

MCS 6th Grade Grads 2019

Muskegon Christian School’s 6th-Grade Graduating Class 2019:

Trevor Breuker
Levi Brown
Gabriel Cook
Elisha Croff
Lexi Daggett
Maria Eenigenberg
Kennedi Flowers
Myles Foreman
Kimora Frierson
Avia Greer
Dakota Harper
Lillian Jackson
Paydon Jackson
Trezelle Jenkins
Abigail Leffring
Hallie Lindale
Jayla Lofquist
Jacob Lynn
Luke Maat
Melia Medendorp
Chandler Medendorp
Daniel Moorhead
Theodore Osterman
Talen Peterson
Levi Postema
Ryan Rogers
Josue Sandoval
Benjamin Visser
Jessica Wakefield

NEC Grads 2019 by lake

New Era Christian School’s Graduating Class of 2019:

Kayla Balder

Chase Gowell

Ani Hill

Anna Morse

Theodore Stone

GHC 2019 Grads

WMC’s Top 10 (Sarah VanderKooi not pictured): Back row left to right: Caleb Minasian, Eli Rotman, Jack Zuidema, Andrew Hill, Hayden Hubers, and Elijah Abel. Front row left to right: Rebecca TerHarr, Josian Aardema, and Emily Rosema.

Western Michigan Christian’s Senior Class of 2019, was led by WMC’s Top Ten:

Josian Aardema will graduate as the Valedictorian of the Class of 2019. She is the daughter of Kevin and Kay Aardema of Grand Haven and a member of Ferrysburg Community Church. While at WMC, Josie ran Cross Country and Track, was a coach for Girls on the Run, and a founding member of the Earth Club. In the fall she will attend Calvin College and plans to major in Environmental Science.

Elijah Abel is the son of Charissa and Kyle Abel of Norton Shores and attends Covenant Life Church in Grand Haven. While he attended WMC, he was involved with Student Council, Science Olympiad, on the Yearbook Staff and was an International Student Ambassador. In the fall he plans to major in Engineering at the University of Michigan…Go Blue!

Andrew Hill is a member of Edgewood Lutheran Church where he is a church worship musician and the son of Mark and Rhonda Hill of Norton Shores. In the fall Andrew is planning to attend Calvin College and major in Finance. While at WMC, Andrew participated in Baseball, Tennis, and Jazz Band.

Hayden Hubers is the son of Ruthie and Butch Hubers of Whitehall and attends House Church. At WMC he led worship at Chapel, played Varsity Soccer, Basketball, and sang in the Chamber Choir. He served and was involved in leading worship for local churches, served on the Youth Advisory Council, packed lunches for Feed My Starving Children, and an International Aid volunteer. He also participated in Berkley College of Music’s Summer programs and led Basketball Camps. Hayden plans to pursue something music related while taking online classes in the fall.

Caleb Minasian is the son of Michael and Kelly Minasian of Newaygo and attends First Christian Reformed Church of Fremont. While attending WMC, he has been on the Soccer and Golf Teams. Caleb also was involved in the Fall Play Tech Team, acted in the Fall Plays, and Musicals. He played in the Jazz Band, Concert Band, and sang in Chamber Choir. In the fall he plans to go to Michigan Technological University for Engineering.

Emily Rosema is the daughter of Joy and Aaron Rosema of Fruitport. She played Varsity Soccer for four years during her time at WMC. Emily plans on attending Grand Valley State University in the fall where she will major in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Spanish.

Eli Rotman will graduate as the Salutatorian of his class. He is the son of Eric and Dawn Rotman and attends Second Christian Reformed Church of Grand Haven where he was in the Brass Ensemble. In his years at WMC, he ran Cross Country and Track, was in Science Olympiad, and played in Concert Band. In the fall he plans to attend the University of Michigan for Materials Science and Engineering.

Rebecca TerHaar was very involved in Volleyball, Softball, Chamber Choir, Jazz Band, and Chapel Leadership the four years she was at WMC. She is the daughter of Curt and Cheri TerHaar from Grand Haven. She will major in Occupational Therapy at Calvin College in the fall.

Sarah VanderKooi is planning on attending Albion College and majoring in their PreVet program next fall. She was active in Cross Country, Track, and sang in the Chamber Choir at WMC. She volunteered as an Equine Horse Therapist, helped at the local food trucks, and worked at a Mississippi Service Project. Sarah is the daughter of Ted and Dawn VanderKooi of Fremont. She is a member of Bethel Reformed OPC where she helped with the church refreshments and enjoyed playing piano at church.

Jack Zuidema is the son of Mark and Julie Zuidema of Muskegon and is a member of Harvest Bible Church. Jack was involved in Cross Country and Track. He also was a 4th-grade Basketball Coach for Grand Haven Christian School. Jack plans to attend Calvin College and major in Actuarial Science in the fall.

The complete WMC Class of 2019 includes:

In alphabetical order: Josie Aardema, Elijah Abel, Drew Andree, Delaney Bakker, McKenna Bonnema, Zachary Butkis, Allesha Cooper, Bri Curtis, Ema Davis, Chuma Dumalisile, Anika Eenigenburg, Nolan Fairfield, Elijah Faith, Libby Fisher, Travis Goodrich, Holly Gould, Noelle Gray, Joe Hain, Lex Hall-Bacon, Andrew Hill, Mon Ho, Sydney Holtvluwer, Hayden Hubers, Haeseong (Daniel) Jeung, Yubin Kim, Morgan Kinnucan, Ngoc La, Jada Love, Li Xun (Morrison) Ma, Khanya Mbutuma,  Caleb Minasian, Sarah Moorhead, Kyle Morris, Tylor Morrison, Emily Myers, Madi Pearce, Tam Pham, Andrew Rasmussen, Emily Rosema, Eli Rotman, Evan Ruiter, Zandile Skolpati, Tyler Somers, Katie Summerfield, Jared Swords, Anna Sytsema, Brandon Sytsma, Rebecca TerHaar, Paul Tyaliti, Daniel Vanbiesbrouck, Sarah VanderKooi, Elizabeth Vos, Heechan Wang, Shangfei (Sam) Wang, Steph Weesies, Kyle Wolffis, Brant Zeerip, and Jack Zuidema.

Interested in learning more about our 5-school faith-based education from preschool to 12th grade?

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), New Era Christian (PK-8) and Western Michigan Christian (7-12). 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.

Grand Haven Christian School is a Safe Haven for Students

How One Family Found Refuge in GHC: A Heartfelt Testimony

GHC is able to boast about our excellent academic program, as evident by our test scores and the success of our students beyond their time at GHC, but we are so much more to our students and families. Shaping hearts is part of our mission statement and a focus for our teachers and staff. Our desire is to create an environment where students feel safe, loved, and cared for – knowing they are a wonderful creation and child of God. The academic successes will follow, but for students to know who they are and whose they are is of utmost importance. We had a family transfer to GHC for this very reason last year and found their daughter’s life transformed by her experiences here.

Read for yourself about how God worked through GHC to create a safe and loving school experience for the Orr family:

Upon completion of fourth grade in the public school system, it was inevitable that our daughter would soon further her education at the public intermediate school in the fall. Our daughter has always been a shy, introverted child with a large tender heart. During her year in second grade, she faced a great deal of bullying. It became so intense, that the principal concluded it would be best for our daughter and all students within the classroom to remove two of the students and place them in other classrooms. As you can imagine, this type of bullying created a great deal of anxiety, inability to focus, low self-esteem and a change in her academics. Fortunately, her third and fourth-grade teachers took her under their wings and rebuilt her academic and self-confidence. By the end of her fourth grade, she was ready to take on her new adventures in the fall within the public intermediate school.

By the fourth week in the intermediate school, the phone calls began, and our daughter was in the office physically sick on a regular basis and the tears didn’t stop.  As anticipated, we felt the transition period could be rough, but believed she would work through it. We instantly became more involved at school. Weekly/daily meetings began along with regular emails to her teachers and even flowers for the secretary who stayed with her whenever she was sick and did all she could to calm her.

Homeschooling became a consistent request, along with the plea of, “Please do not make me go back, PLEASE!” Her academics began to decline, she was becoming more introverted and depressed. We were very fortunate that she was always willing to talk and share her experiences with us. While we listened and continued to encourage her to stay positive and keep the faith, we stayed involved. Our gut told us this was not where we wanted her to stay, we quietly began researching other options. The more we researched, the more defeated and confused we became.

Enter, Grand Haven Christian. We had numerous friends who had children attend and graduate from GHC. While we felt somewhat familiar with the school, we gathered more information and planned for her to do a school visit. In preparation for this visit, we found a sense of peace knowing that during this day our faith in God would be shared by the very people she would call classmates. Our daughter did not know a soul at the time of her first visit. With all she had been through you can imagine how we felt leaving her at GHC for the day. We cried when we left her and cried, even more, when we picked her up! Why? Well, she jumped in the car with a smile and said, “This is it! This is where I belong, this is where I want to be!” A year and a half later still not one tear shed and she still has a smile nearly every morning and afternoon.

Academically, she spent only six months in 5th-grade and loved every minute of it. Sixth-grade started a little rough for us, partly because we were not familiar with the routine and things came quickly at us. Tessa seemed to be getting behind and we quickly asked to meet with one teacher to talk it through. To our amazement, we walked into a meeting room where nearly EVERY teacher was present! We were in total amazement, as each sat with their computers taking notes and sharing notes, they made it clear that our daughter and her academic success mattered to more people than just us! We were able to share some history. Suddenly, the things they were seeing made sense and their input helped us tremendously!! To this day, I feel they are there for her and our family as a whole. Academically, she is proud to be an Honor Roll student and is so thankful to have supportive teachers on her side!

When we started at GHC, there was one thing that disappointed her! There wasn’t an equestrian team. That was a dream of hers all through grade school, to be a part of a school equestrian team. We simply said, “If you want it, then we will have to figure it out! Let’s see what can be done to make it happen. Complaining about it will not change the situation.” She started 5th-grade in January by mid-March, GHC had an Equestrian team. With only six weeks to prepare for their first competition, the team placed 3rd overall. This year, however, they won the competition! They returned from the equestrian meet with the championship trophy, which is currently displayed in the GHC trophy case! The support of the school, the school board, teachers and students has meant the world to her!

three girls and one of a horse

Congratulations to the GHC Equestrian team in making MIE and school history by tying for first place this weekend in the Michigan Interscholastic Equestrian competition which was held in Ludington. The team was small but mighty led by Alaina Somers and Tessa Orr, with grooming help from Kaitlin Haight, and coached by Karen Orr. We are so proud of the hard work of all of these ladies and are proud of the way they represented GHC and all of WMCS!

Tessa has always refused taking part in other sports as she is so afraid of being made fun of, it was a huge surprise when she announced she was going to play basketball this year. What a joy it was to hear that her classmates encouraged her to join the team. Her agreeing to follow through and play through to the end is a huge testament as to her feelings about the school and her classmates. We guarantee you, she would not have ever entertained the idea for even a brief moment at her previous school. So thankful!

Tessa has a younger sister graduating from fourth grade, at a public school, in just a few weeks. She has a very large network of friends that will be moving onto the public Intermediate school. We’ve talked about the fact that her sister is a different child who’s had different life experiences, with a different network of friends. Do we pull her from her friends and the public school system or do we give it a second try? Well, simply said by the 9-year-old, “Mom, Dad here’s the deal, I can call those friends at any time. I will make new friends at GHC. I want to go to school and start my day with prayer. I want to learn more about God. I want to be happy every day and I want to feel ‘safe’ like Tessa said when she started at GHC,”  She continued with, “I sure don’t want all of the craziness; I just want a good education!” Well, please look for Brylie at GHC this fall!

We truly feel GHC saved Tessa in many ways. She knows now she can feel safe at school. She can have a voice, be heard and not be made fun of or judged. She can be a part of the team and even create her own. It’s o.k. to laugh out loud while getting an education. It’s truly o.k. to believe in yourself and, in others. She’s always known, but now believes that “It’s okay to cast away your cares upon Jesus, for He cares for you!”

 About GHC

Located in beautiful Grand Haven, Michigan, Grand Haven Christian School offers the most comprehensive Christian day school program in the area. Teaching from the Reformed perspective that emphasizes Jesus as Lord of all areas of life, we offer classes for students preschool through 8th-grade in all regular academic disciplines as well as physical education, band, choir, music, visual arts, computer technology, and introductory Spanish. Contact GHC today for more information! 

Grand Haven 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 Grand Haven Christian School’s Tyler Ray

Teachers are the heart of WMCS!

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 Tyler Ray of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Grand Haven Christian School Store

The 208-19 school year marks Tyler’s third year at Grand Haven Christian School where he teaches physical education and technology to young fives all the way up to 8th-grade teens.

He attended New Era Christian School as a child went on to graduate high school from Western Michigan Christian. He is a WMCS alum through and through! 

Tyler and his wife Breanna met as juniors at WMC in high school.

Tyler and Bre on their wedding day on a bridge outside

Tyler and his wife Breanna met as juniors at WMC in high school.

They have been married for almost three years and are the proud parents of two golden retriever puppies!

two golden retrievers on a couch

Tyler and Breanna’s fur babies, Opie and Piper.

After WMC, Tyler headed to college and received his teaching degree from Cornerstone University. When he enrolled I was taking macroeconomics and finance courses, but God had other plans! (See question #7 below to learn more about his journey into education.)

 Enjoy getting to know him a bit more!

Q & A with Tyler

1.  What is your favorite memory of a student who came back after graduation and contacted you?

In addition to teaching at GHC, I have the great opportunity of coaching the WMC boys junior varsity basketball team. That’s where I get to see a few players that I had in class at Grand Haven Christian! It is fun to be in a teaching environment that is different from a traditional school setting. We get to spend A LOT of time together, which just makes the relationship we built at GHC even stronger.  

It is fun to be in a teaching environment that is different from a traditional school setting.

Coach Ray and the JV basketball team on the sideline

Coach Ray giving his WMC JV boys basketball team direction during a timeout.

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

During my college summers and leading up to my first teaching opportunity, I worked on a farm for five years.

Our largest crops were apples, cherries asparagus, but we also grew strawberries, peaches, and blueberries. I loved being out in God’s creation, driving tractors and sprayers, and being able to literally harvest the fruits of our labor.

I loved being out in God’s creation, driving tractors and sprayers, and being able to literally harvest the fruits of our labor.

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

What I love most about my job is the opportunity to connect and build relationships with students. I do enjoy the craziness of running around, playing games, and teaching new sports. However, being able to sit down and have a conversation about what’s going on in their life, how their day is going or leading a short devotion is what makes all of this so awesome.

I grew up with great mentors because of Christian education and if I can be that same person who can share my faith and be a role model than I believe I have done my job as an educator in a Christian school.

I grew up with great mentors because of Christian education and if I can be that same person who can share my faith and be a role model than I believe I have done my job as an educator in a Christian school.

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

The best part of my day is about fifteen minutes before the first bell rings. Usually consisting of middle schoolers, anywhere from 2 – 12 students come into my office just to hang out and talk. Some of them bring in some last minute homework but others just stop by to tell me about their weekend or day, ask me about how I fit on the moped I drive to school, or to grab a kickball and just bounce it off the wall. To the passers-by, it may seem like chaos at times but to me, it is a place of joy, smiles, and laughter.

The best part of my day is about fifteen minutes before the first bell rings.. students come into my office just to hang out and talk…To the passers-by, it may seem like chaos at times but to me, it is a place of joy, smiles, and laughter.

Group photo of Tyler and some early elementary students outside

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

The Lord has gifted me with patience for both Kindergartners and Middle Schoolers. He has blessed me with a large presence that I can use to motivate and encourage physical activity and exercise as well as a passion to be a leader. I love to teach and coach and with that, I can share my experiences to help others in their academics, faith, and everyday life.

I love to teach and coach and with that, I can share my experiences to help others in their academics, faith, and everyday life.

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?Can of Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer

I try to limit myself to just drinking water, but on a hot summer day, my favorite would be an Arnold Palmer. I usually try to sneak that large Arizona jug onto the grocery list.

 

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

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have taught at New Era Christian where I attended K – 8th,  but also for my current position at Grand Haven Christian.

When I enrolled in college I was taking macroeconomics and finance. I had zero intentions of being a teacher. Then I realized God had different plans and a passion for Physical Education blossomed!

Every day I am so grateful to be able to share the love of Christ and spend time with these students.

When I enrolled in college I was taking macroeconomics and finance. I had zero intentions of being a teacher. Then I realized God had different plans and a passion for Physical Education blossomed. Every day I am so grateful to be able to share the love of Christ and spend time with these students.

Tyler and Bre holding massive iguana

Tyler and his bride Bre enjoying the Mayan Riviera.

 

As a beloved faculty member, Tyler is a special part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating him and the amazing Kingdom work he does at GHC.

Tyler and his lovely wife in a flower field

Tyler and Breanna Ray

Tyler, 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 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 Grand Haven Christian School’s Mikaela Deur

Teachers are the heart of WMCS!

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 Mikaela Deur of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Grand Haven Christian School Store

Mikaela has been teaching Kindergarten at Grand Haven Christian since the fall of 2017. She attended GHC as a student all the way through, from preschool to 8th-grade graduation. After that, she attended  Western Michigan Christian High School and went on to Calvin College for her education degree. “It feels like coming home to be back here,” explains Mikaela. Having her back is a delightful homecoming for her and the GHC staff alike!

It feels like coming home to be back here (at GHC).

 Enjoy getting to know her a bit more!

Q & A with Mikaela

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

One day last winter I was on recess-duty and one of my students ran up to me to hold my hand and walk with me. She looked up at me and said, “Miss D, I always walk next to you at recess because it’s the warmest spot… you know, because love is warmer than everything and you love us so much.”

I’m always overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that comes from kindergartners. I could write a book of all the incredibly sweet and authentic things that these students have said to me. They love so deeply and it’s such a gift to be able to teach them!

I could write a book of all the incredibly sweet and authentic things that these students have said to me. They love so deeply and it’s such a gift to be able to teach them.

Getting ready to sing with GRSC in Carnegie Hall.

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

I actually sing with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus.

Last year I had the amazing privilege of singing on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York with them!

Last year I had the amazing privilege of singing on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York with the Grand Rapids Symphony Choir!3.   What do you love most about your job?

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

There are so many things I could say because kindergarteners might just be the best people in the world! They’re eager and enthusiastic about learning. They’re 100% authentic to themselves. They tell some pretty incredible knock-knock jokes.

But I think what I love most of all is that everything that we do in our classroom can come back to Jesus. Every conversation that we have can be framed around our amazing Savior. It’s a freedom and a privilege that I don’t take for granted to be able to pray, teach the Bible, and talk about Jesus all throughout our day.

I think what I love most of all is that everything that we do in our classroom can come back to Jesus. Every conversation that we have can be framed around our amazing Savior. It’s a freedom and a privilege that I don’t take for granted to be able to pray, teach the Bible, and talk about Jesus all throughout our day.

Celebrating March is Reading Month with favorite book character day in Kindergarten.

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

I love our mornings. I try to make sure every student is greeted by their name and given an uplifting interaction at least twice within the first 10-15 minutes. My students start the day being greeted at the door, then move right into working on their own specific list of sight words. Once they’ve finished this quick activity, everyone gets a high five or a fist bump, and then they get to play with loose parts for a couple of minutes. Almost every student is working on different sight words, so it’s a simple way to differentiate every morning. It also gives me a chance to have a conversation with every student and frame their day for success.

This always leads right into our morning meeting, where my students get to greet their peers, we sing a worship song and pray together. Not to mention, kindergarteners come in with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and so much exciting news to share after 18 hours away from their teacher, so it’s always wonderful for me to hear what is happening in their lives as they come in!

100 days of Kindergarten!

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

I’m pretty much constantly singing, so it was only natural for me to become a kindergarten teacher. We sing about anything and everything. After our morning work and loose parts STEM play, we start every morning with a worship song from there on, our day is packed with songs about finding good fit spots, shapes, counting, days of the week, the weather, letter sounds, Bible stories… you name the topic and I’ve got a song for it!

We start every morning with a worship song from there on, our day is packed with songs about finding good fit spots, shapes, counting, days of the week, the weather, letter sounds, Bible stories… you name the topic and I’ve got a song for it!

Leading with the worship team at her church. When their church building was under renovation they meet in the GHC gym!

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?

I’ve been known to sip on an iced coffee with cream and vanilla all school day… but I also love Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper.

As a beloved faculty member, Mikaela is a very special 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 her and the amazing Kingdom work she does at GHC.

Enjoying a vacation to Gulf Shores, AL with her family.

Mikaela’s sister and brother, Paige Deur and Will Deur.

Mikaela, 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.

West Michigan Christian Schools Announces New Community Based Instruction Partnerships for HS Students

ESS UPDATE: New CBI Opportunities in Grand Haven

West Michigan Christian School’s Educational Support Services (ESS) team is excited to announce new Community-Based Instruction (CBI) partnerships for our high school students at two local Lakeshore businesses.  

Grand Haven-based Lake Effect Kitchen and Chow Hound Pet Supplies are providing opportunities for CBI for Western Michigan Christian High School (WMC) students with diverse learning needs. Juniors and Seniors on the Certificate of Completion track at WMC, now have the opportunity to learn more about their God-given strengths and gifts in the workplace, which serves to prepare students for potential employment post-high school.

 

Photo caption: Sawyer Arkema, a New Era Christian School graduate and currently a Junior at WMC, enjoys cooking and loves animals. The WMC ESS team sought out workplaces that could utilize those gifts and passions.

“These Community Based Instruction opportunities allow our students invaluable and inclusive vocational opportunities. I am proud to share that we currently have the ability and resources to bring these opportunities to our students. This helps build on the vision of WMCS, which is to support whole-families by allowing students of all learning needs the opportunity to be a part of the WMCS family, no matter their individual ability,” shares Whitney Jackson, WMCS Director of Educational Support Services and CBI co-project head.

After conducting student “interest inventories,” the WMCS ESS team determines each child’s areas of interests, gifts, and passions. The ESS team then seeks out workplaces that could utilize those gifts and abilities.

 

Lake Effect Kitchen is a commercial kitchen located in Grand Haven, Michigan, specializing in take-home meals. They mentor students with disabilities through their CBI program and have recently hired two employees on the autism spectrum. Their vision is to provide authentic community and competitive employment for all.

As part of the CBI program, students participate in serving lunch to students at a local elementary school as well as prepare for lunch at the kitchen using their culinary skills. This helps students strengthen their social skills, as well as, learning skills for working within a kitchen setting.

 

Chow Hound Pet Supplies stores are located in the greater Grand Rapids area, Holland, Grand Haven, & Portage. As West Michigan’s largest family-owned pet store, students gaining experience at Chow Hound have the opportunity to help with daily cleaning tasks as well as preparing for animals to be groomed.

 

Once students complete their four years at WMC, students are eligible to continue receiving educational services until they turn twenty-six years old through their residential school district. Families are encouraged to reach out to their zoned districts to learn more about what programs they offer as each district varies.

LEARN MORE about WMCS ESS.

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.