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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.

West Michigan Christian Schools Partners with CLC Network

Equipping and Challenging Every Student to Reach Their God-Given Potential

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) has made a renewed commitment to serving students at all levels of ability, by partnering with CLC Network to strengthen our inclusive Educational Support Services (ESS) program. We are thrilled to promise a place of welcome for students with disabilities (whether physical, behavioral, intellectual, or socio-emotional) and will make sure that each student who learns differently is well-served at our schools.

An inclusive education philosophy “pushes” academic support into the classroom for all students, whereas our former model “pulled” support out of the classroom for select students. Inclusion will ensure that each student — whether they are typically developing, academically talented, or intellectually disabled — is met and challenged at their level, fulfilling their potential in the Christian community.

Inclusion will ensure that each student — whether they are typically developing, academically talented, or intellectually disabled — is met and challenged at their level, fulfilling their potential in the Christian community.

We believe each person is shaped with different areas of gift and need that complement one another; like the puzzle, the kingdom of God is incomplete unless all members are integrated into the community. Inclusive education, like this puzzle, is a reflection of the community described in 1 Corinthians 12. We desire for the student body — composed of members with complementary abilities, strengths and areas of need — to reflect this puzzle and God’s Kingdom. An inclusive community is not just about Johnny who has autism spectrum disorder, or Sam who excels in math, or Erica who struggles with reading, but instead, it’s about everyone sharing their gifts and being challenged to reach their potential.

To ensure we have the right academic and social supports in place for each student, the school has partnered with CLC Network (Christian Learning Center), a nonprofit educational consulting firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. CLC Network works with more than 65 Christian and Catholic schools throughout the United States to ensure that students with a variety of abilities and disabilities are active, integrated members of their school communities.

CLC Network works with more than 65 Christian and Catholic schools throughout the United States to ensure that students with a variety of abilities and disabilities are active, integrated members of their school communities.

Pam Maat, a teacher consultant from CLC Network, will advise our WMCS Educational Support Services (ESS) staff throughout the school year to assist with creating strengths-based plans for struggling students. Pam will also offer curriculum assistance and promote general academic and social inclusion within the school. The Educational Support Services staff will then work with general education teachers to make sure students with learning differences get the support they need, academically, socially, and behaviorally. Our staff will work together so that each student has a sense of belonging in the general education classroom. All staff will have access to CLC Network’s best-practice professional development and training, as well as their team of school psychologists to help understand and create strategies for struggling learners.

All staff will have access to CLC Network’s best-practice professional development and training, as well as their team of school psychologists to help understand and create strategies for struggling learners.

“We believe that inclusion for students at all levels of ability changes the school community for the better,” said Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski, CLC Network executive director. “We are thrilled to work with Whitney Piersma (WMCS Director of Educational Support Services) and the entire West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) staff from all five schools to implement best practices that help all students reach their potential.”

We believe that inclusion for students at all levels of ability changes the school community for the better.

To learn more about CLC Network, visit clcnetwork.org. To inquire about WMCS ESS Program or West Michigan Christian Schools in general, please click the member logo below!

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.

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.