West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Dan DeKam

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.

West Michigan Christian Schools Begins Teaching for Transformation

TfT is a Powerful New PK-12 Christian Education Learning Framework

Dedicated to a process of continuous improvement and growth, West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) strives for excellence, relevance and resonance in Christian Education. Since our primary objective is to teach children how to think about, live in and interact with God’s creation from a Christ-centered perspective, every year we faithfully and strategically consider how we can do this better.

WMCS is excited to announce the launch of a new curriculum development program called Teaching for Transformation (TfT), which will assist our PK-12 teachers to better integrate faith and learning in a way that will transform the Kingdom-focused culture of our school system.

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).

“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 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 be an integral part in God’s unfolding plan,” explains Dan DeKam, Muskegon Christian School Administrator and Executive Director of the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative.

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 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 be an integral part in God’s unfolding plan.

WMCS TfT Faculty Training

Over the next three years, our teachers will undergo training in how to implement this new teaching framework.  This is an instructional practice for PK-12 that will be adopted by the teachers throughout our collaborative system.

As our teachers train and begin to implement their new TfT tools, we will be sharing new developments with the WMCS member school family via newsletters (like this) and via “The Voice” our WMCS blog.  

“Once you live out God’s grace in His story, you can’t go back to being normal and going through the motions; you can’t go back to a meaningless scene stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time,” shared a teacher from a TfT-trained school.

Once you live out God’s grace in His story, you can’t go back to being normal and going through the motions; you can’t go back to a meaningless scene stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.

Don’t WMCS Teachers Already Instruct This Way?

Yes, our WMCS staff teach from a Biblical worldview. In fact, West Michigan Christian Schools have been offering Biblical worldview Christian Education in the Lakeshore region of West Michigan for more than 100 years! Although God’s Word stays inerrant and relevant throughout time, as educators we have to work hard to make sure that the way we teach does too.

TfT’s impressive tools and intricate curricular framework provides teachers with a template to develop a unit from a Christian perspective in a fresh and new way, that will, we believe, result in transformed lives, for both students and teachers, while it also permeates the entire culture of WMCS. All five WMCS principals and our staff are encouraged and excited to bring this to our respective schools!” shares DeKam.  

TfT’s impressive tools and intricate curricular framework provides teachers with a template to develop a unit from a Christian perspective in a fresh and new way, that will, we believe, result in transformed lives, for both students and teachers, while it also permeates the entire culture of WMCS. All five WMCS principals and our staff are encouraged and excited to bring this to our respective schools!

TfT Costs

For an individual school to adopt TfT, the cost is about $30,000 over three years.  By adopting the TfT model as a collaborative, our cost over three years for all five WMCS member schools is $50,000. This is a significant cost savings for all the schools and demonstrates one of the ways we can do more together.

The funds raised at the WMCS Golf Outing 2018 will 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.

Why Enroll Your Child at West Michigan Christian Schools? Part 5 – Testimonial

After Adopting Three Children, this WMC Bible Teacher Turned Principal Had a Big Choice to Make

About ten years ago, my wife Judy and I had the wonderful opportunity to adopt three amazing girls.  The added blessing is that they are our granddaughters. Among the many decisions to make was the choice of where our girls would attend school.

At the time, I was a Bible teacher at WMC and we wanted the girls to be immersed in Christian education. Judy and I made an appointment with Mr. DeKam at Muskegon Christian School.  Mr. DeKam and the staff at Muskegon Christian became wonderful partners in the education of our children.

The girls began to grow in all areas of life. They became active in music and athletics. There are a variety of extra-curricular activities for our girls to participate in throughout the year.

The girls began to grow in all areas of life. They became active in music and athletics. There are a variety of extra-curricular activities for our girls to participate in throughout the year.  Now they are active in the service of the Lord both in and out of school.

Now they are active in the service of the Lord both in and out of school.

I am privileged to welcome students to the hallways of Christian education at WMC High School and Middle School. What an extraordinary joy to see students from all areas and situations of life sharing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

What an extraordinary joy to see students from all areas and situations of life sharing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

This is your special invitation to join our Western Michigan Christian (WMC) Middle and High School family and to share in the joy of the Lord.

Hope to see you real soon!

WMCS is ENROLLING NOW for the 2018-19 school year.

Please CLICK HERE >> to GET MORE INFO about Christian education options for children preschool through 12th grade.

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.

Better Together,
Pastor Samuel Greer, Jr.
Western Michigan Christian Middle & High School Principal
(and proud dad of 3 girls in Christian education)

Feature Photo caption: Greer’s family includes (from left to right) A’Nyah, Amaria, Greer’s wife Judy, Avia and Pastor Samuel Greer. 

Why Enroll Your Child at West Michigan Christian Schools? Part 1 – Testimonial

This Parent Shares Why He Chose WMCS 20 Years ago…and for all 5 Kids Since

Twenty years ago, we sent our oldest daughter off to Kindergarten at Muskegon Christian School.  This spring, our youngest daughter graduates from high school at Western Michigan Christian.

There will be some rejoicing to have our last one through –yes, school principals pay tuition too.  But there is also a lot of gratitude for our Christian Schools here in West Michigan.

We have had a great partner in raising our children to know and love the Lord, to recognize Him in the everyday business of life, to see the miracle of creation and give Him praise, and to live in obedience in the way we love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves.

There will be some rejoicing to have our last one through –yes, school principals pay tuition too.  But there is also a lot of gratitude for our Christian schools here in West Michigan.

We are thankful for the examples set by the WMCS teachers, coaches, staff and administration in modeling a Christ-like life.  As with any endeavor this side of heaven, it has not been perfect.  But in the imperfections, we also saw the grace and the opportunity to understand accountability and forgiveness.

We are also thankful for all of you who have made these schools possible for these many years.  We thank the donors who give so generously to this worthy cause and for other parents who sacrifice. With our five children all in Christian School at the same time, we have felt the generosity of the Christian community in reducing the tuition to a rate we could manage.   While we admittedly look forward to a little relief from tuition payments we feel it was worth every penny and we are anticipating the opportunity to give back.

While we admittedly look forward to a little relief from tuition payments we feel it was worth every penny and we are anticipating the opportunity to give back.

Two decades ago, it seemed that the road to the day when our youngest would graduate was long and never-ending.   Now we are left wondering how all of that happened so quickly.

To those who are just starting down this road–pay attention!

You won’t want to miss anything.

From both personal and professional experience, I very much recommend the PK-12 Christian Education that our WMCS collaborative family of five schools in Fremont, Grand Haven, Muskegon, New Era and Norton Shores offers. Covering such a wide area in the Lakeshore region of West Michigan, our school system has something for every family. Come see for yourself!

WMCS is ENROLLING NOW for the 2018-19 school year.

Please CLICK HERE >> to GET MORE INFO about Christian education options for children preschool through 12th grade.

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.

Better together,

Dan Dekam

WMCS, Executive Director (and proud dad of, soon-to-be, 5 WMCS grads)

Feature Photo caption: DeKam’s Clan – The young man on the left is DeKam’s son-in-law Matt.  The others are left to right –Anneliese, Karolyn, Dan, Arlene, Janneke, Ellie and Henry.

West Michigan Christian Schools Director’s Report for Fall 2017

From the Desk of Dan DeKam

Executive Director, West Michigan Christian Schools

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

-Yogi Berra

Many institutions have crafted mission statements. These statements are used to set the course for the culminating impact that the institution wishes to have in the world around them.  They serve as a broad over-arching “goal.”  These are critically important statements that need to be reviewed periodically as institutions like people have a tendency to drift from their intended goals and pursue goals that are more congruent with where our human hearts want to go. In 1692, Harvard University adopted its motto, “Truth for Christ and the Church.”  But as the decades slipped by an emphasis on being a highly respected academic institution became the highest priority, the motto was changed to just “Truth.”  

In 1692, Harvard University adopted its motto, Truth for Christ and the Church.  But as the decades slipped by an emphasis on being a highly respected academic institution became the highest priority, the motto was changed to just Truth.

These mission statements do reveal something about the institution and should be read carefully. Consider this statement from an unnamed public school: “…will be a place of excellence where all students are engaged in high quality, real-world learning and….will encourage children to achieve their full potential and become responsible citizens who are lifelong learners.“  It is the goal of this school to serve the state and produce good citizens. This should not be read as a criticism of the people who work diligently in the public school system, for they are not permitted by the state to do anything else. It should point out the importance of knowing where you are going.

As Christian schools, we are not limited in the ways that we can express the truth of Christ.

As Christian schools, we are not limited in the ways that we can express the truth of Christ. The following quotes are from the West Michigan Christian School member websites and should be read frequently as a reminder of why God has called us to this work:

New Era Christian “…to prepare students for lives of Christian service.”

Grand Haven Christian  “…we want our school and each student to SHINE for Jesus Christ.”

Fremont Christian ”…our teachers strive to help students reach their fullest potential as children of God.”

Muskegon Christian   “…to engage each student in a lifetime of Christian discipleship.”

Western Michigan Christian “…to equip students to work and serve Christ in their communities.”

This is not to say that academics are not important. They are vitally important – we are schools after all.  But they are important as an expression of our gratitude for what God has done through us, through Jesus Christ.  We are to take all of the talents and opportunities that God gives us in life and do our best to utilize them fully – for his glory.  As it says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Over the next several weeks, representatives of the boards and other representatives of the WMCEC schools will be undergoing a strategic planning process.  Please be in prayer for the schools as we seek to discern where God is leading us over the next several years and how we can be of service to Him in His world.

Better together,

Dan Dekam

WMCS, Executive Director

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.