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BACK to SCHOOL 2017 for WEST MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS

BACK TO SCHOOL 2017

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

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

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

 

Fremont Christian School (PK-8)

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

Freemont Christian School First Day of School Chapel.

 

Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8)

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

Grand Haven Christian School Back to School Family Picnic

Muskegon Christian School(PK-6)

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

Muskegeon Christian School

 

New Era Christian School(PK-8)

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

New Era Christian School New Chapel Format for 2017

 

Western Michigan Christian (7-12)

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

WMC First Day of West Michigan Christian School Praise & Worship

 

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

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

WMCS TEACHER IN-SERVICE DAY: Iron Sharpens Iron

WMCS TEACHER IN-SERVICE DAY: Iron Sharpens Iron

In August, when students were still sleeping in and enjoying summer, faculty from all five member schools gathered bright and early at the WMC Campus to attend the WMCS Annual teacher In-Service Workshop. After a group breakfast and fellowship, eighty teachers and five principals, (many pictured above) started the day with worship in the “big room.” The Worship Team was from All Shores Wesleyan, a local Spring Lake church and included GHC and WMC alum Sam Vos and Nathan Landheer.

“It was powerful. Faculty from all five schools were worshipping as one body. There’s no better way to kick-off the year,” shared Dan DeKam, WMCS Executive Director and MCS Principal.

It was powerful. Faculty from all five schools were worshipping as one body. There’s no better way to kick-off the year.

Jenn Van Hekken, who serves diligently as the WMCS Director of Curriculum & Instruction, was the gracious event host. In this position for four years, it is Van Hekken’s mission to provide seamless and aligned PK-12 curriculum for the WMCS school system. At the event, she was excited to share the successful goal of aligning all Social Studies curriculum across the school system and the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Mrs. Van Hekken also introduced the curriculum goals for 2017/18, which included the partial alignment of NGSS and middle school math school system-wide. The discussion of aligning Bible K-12 was also introduced. Her goal is to complete the collaborative mapping process of Science and Bible this year, with English Language Arts (ELA) and Math updated by 2019.

Photo of Jen Van Hekken speaking with mic in hand.

Jenn Van Hekken, who serves diligently as the WMCS Director of Curriculum & Instruction, was the gracious event host.

In the past, each school had worked as a single-school entity, using individual resources and curriculum paths for their students. By working together and creating system-wide curriculum maps, each of our schools are ensuring that students not only receive the best PK-12 education but also help to create a seamless transition as they graduate from their respective campuses to WMC for middle or high school.

By working together and creating system-wide curriculum maps, each of our schools are ensuring that students not only receive the best PK-12 education but also help to create a seamless transition as they graduate from their respective campuses to WMC for middle or high school.

“This isn’t a new philosophy for the majority of school districts out there, however, the distance between our buildings can sometimes be a challenge. Over the past three years we’ve begun meeting in grade- level groups K-8 to work together with our cross-building colleagues on aligning our curriculum and building a spirit of community. It involves the teachers sitting down together and mapping out the standards and benchmarks of each unit that they teach, discussing common assessments, and spending time in training,” explains Van Hekken.

The following Teacher In-Service Day breakout sessions were provided by various WMCS teachers who provided expertise in the following areas:

  • Digital Toolkit 2017: New tips and tricks for the classroom (Ian Turner – WMCS)
  • Behind the Smile: Helping our students cope with difficult situations (Amanda Bosscher – WMC)
  • How to Draw Kids Closer to God (Bob Koning – GHC)
  • Graceland Farms and the Diverse Learner; Q&A about Accommodation Plans and Educational Support Plans (Whitney Piersma and Jennifer Sunderlin – WMCS)
  • Movement & Learning: The effects of physical activity on student learning (Jacque Groenendyk – WMC)

Break out sessions for PK-12 grade levels and subject areas (Bible, English, Fine & Industrial Arts, Math, Health/PE, Science, Social Studies and World Language) also took place.  Teachers in grades K-5 met to discuss curriculum plans, share ideas and inspiration to start the new year.

MCS’s Dan DeKam shared, “It’s good for teachers to get together with other teachers and feel supported in the work of Christian education.  They were able to connect with other teachers, build relationships and share ideas.”  

It’s good for teachers to get together with other teachers and feel supported in the work of Christian education.  They were able to connect with other teachers, build relationships and share ideas.

NEC’s Principal Phil Morse noted,“Because we only have one teacher per grade level in our building, it is an appreciated opportunity for our teachers to discuss curriculum and student learning with other teachers from the same grade levels.  It was especially helpful for us this year because now our teachers have one year under their belt from which to draw on to ask questions.”

“My staff was so excited to be part of this day not only to meet with their new WMCS colleagues but to collaborate. From the start of worship all through the break out sessions we were inspired and informed. WMCS Teacher In-Service Day did not disappoint and far exceeded our expectations!” explained John Barkel, Principal of FCS.

My staff was so excited to be part of this day not only to meet with their new WMCS colleagues but to collaborate. From the start of worship all through the break out sessions we were inspired and informed. WMCS Teacher In-Service Day did not disappoint and far exceeded our expectations!

It’s this synergy, collaboration, discipling and teaching among the WMCS staff that makes all we do at WMCS true Kingdom work! Keep up the great work everyone!

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

An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter. To view a PDF of the full WMCS “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter click here.

WMCS Members include, Fremont Christian, Grand Haven Christian, New Era Christian, Muskegon Christian and Western Michigan Christian Might Schools and Middle School

Fremont Christian School Joins the Family

Fremont Christian School Joins the Family: WMCS is Five Schools Strong

This year West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) celebrates a wonderful new addition to the school family. We are proud to announce that Fremont Christian School (FCS) is now an official member of the WMCS collaborative! This new addition brings our school system to a total of five schools and a collective 1,171 PK-12 students for the 2017-18 school year.

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!

Why Did FCS Join WMCS?

Principal John Barkel has been at FCS for twelve years, first as a teacher and more recently as the head of school since 2012. Earlier this year, the FCS board retained the services of a consultant to help them create a new strategic plan for the school. The mission that Barkel and the FCS board set out to accomplish in 2017 was to “be visionary.” The idea was to break free from daily regimented minutia and move forward with fresh visionary ideas for the school. Joining the WMCS collaborative was a direct result of this outside-of-the-box thinking.

“The partnership allows FCS to benefit from being part of a united body all focused on the same goal. It also allowed FCS to grow our team without having to bring on new staff. Practical team members were some missing links for us and WMCS membership afforded us access to a curriculum, Education Support Services (ESS) and marketing director. The value added to our programs and education by having these benefits will be incredible! Ultimately the goal is to better support our students and Christian education in West Michigan, and this move gets us closer to achieving that,” explained Fremont Christian School’s Principal John Barkel.

The partnership allows FCS to benefit from being part of a united body all focused on the same goal. It also allowed FCS to grow our team without having to bring on new staff. Practical team members were some missing links for us and WMCS membership afforded us access to a curriculum, Education Support Services (ESS) and marketing director.

Opening Up the Pipeline to WMC:

As a WMCS member, FCS will actively work to open people’s eyes to the option of PK-12 Christian education with the final destination at Western Michigan Christian (WMC).

“We’re excited to offer parents a comprehensive PK-12 Christian education plan for their children. Additionally, we’ll work on carpooling options to make the drive easier. Some pretty amazing conversations happen en route to high school between peers, parents and students. The stories we’ve heard throughout the years are remarkable!” shared Barkel.

We’re excited to offer parents a comprehensive PK-12 Christian education plan for their children.

A warm welcome to the faculty, board and families of Fremont Christian School. We’re delighted and BLESSED to have you on board!

WMCS Principals: (left to right) WMC’s Pastor Samuel Greer; MCS’s Dan DeKam; NEC’s Phil Morse; GHC’s James Onderlinde; and FCS’s John Barkel.

What Benefits Does WMCS Membership Include?

 The WMCS Member Schools Include:

Click here to view a PDF copy of the press announcement.

This article originally appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter. To view a PDF of the full WMCS “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter click here.

WMCS Members include, Fremont Christian, Grand Haven Christian, New Era Christian, Muskegon Christian and Western Michigan Christian Might Schools and Middle School

Did you Know that WMCS Has a Growing & Thriving ESS Program?

[Photo caption for above image: This is GHC’s ESS Student Success Team: (Left to right) Amy Binnendyk, Judy Dornbos-Langejans and Jill Osterbaan. Not pictured is Cindy Brace.]

Did you Know that WMCS Has a Growing & Thriving ESS Program?

What is ESS?

ESS stands for Educational Support Services. ESS teachers partner with classroom teachers and parents in order to ensure students are reaching their full learning potential. Services include tiered support for students with disabilities and for enrichment opportunities. ESS teachers share a vision of inclusion for all students to learn with their peers.

The WMCS ESS “Student Success Team” Supports WMCS Learners

With the year off to a strong start and a talented team in place, the goal of Whitney Piersma, WMCS Director of Educational Support Services (ESS), is to ensure that the momentum continues. to be proactive about the growth of students receiving educational support system-wide, Piersma has invited all elementary WMCS classroom teachers and ESS staff to participate in monthly Student Success Team meetings where they will analyze student data, discuss classroom observations, and put interventions in place. A specific topic will be chosen each month to develop with classroom teachers and ESS staff to ensure that everyone is equipped to support students of all abilities.

The topics in the coming months include Differentiation, Modifications, Accommodations, Positive Behavior Interventions and Assessments for Learning.

“Meeting in person so that we can work alongside each other to share ideas, findings, tackle challenges and celebrate breakthroughs, is the goal for these teams. Working in a vacuum does not allow us to function at the highest capacity possible. Monthly meetings are key to offering the best support to my team and, most importantly, the best instruction for WMCS students,” explains Piersma.

MCS’s ESS Staff: Paula Dusseljee and Paula Cashler.

Meeting in person so that we can work alongside each other to share ideas, findings, tackle challenges and celebrate breakthroughs, is the goal for these teams. Working in a vacuum does not allow us to function at the highest capacity possible. Monthly meetings are key to offering the best support to my team and, most importantly, the best instruction for WMCS students.

Have you met Whitney?

Whitney Piersma is the Director of Educational Support Services for all five West Michigan Christian Schools.

Whitney Piersma is the WMCS Director of Educational Support Services (ESS). Her job is to support classroom teachers and ESS teachers to ensure students are making academic gains. Whitney started working for GHC, MCS, and WMC in 2016 and now serves FCS as well. Prior to WMCS, she was a Special Education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, teaching elementary and high school aged students with a wide range of abilities. She is a graduate of Calvin College with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art, Communication, and Business, as well as from National Louis University with an M.A. in teaching Special Education.

Welcome, Whitney! We are delighted and very blessed to have such a gifted addition to the WMCS family!

To learn more about ESS for your child please call your school office or CLICK HERE to send an email.

This article originally appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter. To view a PDF of the full WMCS “Faith Matters” Fall 2017 Newsletter click here.