West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Middle School

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!

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 Western Michigan Christian School’s Audrey Markel

Teachers are the heart of WMCS!

Every Tuesday during the spring, the West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative highlights a teacher from one of our five schools.

We have 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 Audrey Markel of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Western Michigan Christian Junior High and High School

Ashely Markel grew up in Texas and then graduated from Ouachita Baptist University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and in Secondary Education. She went on to earn a Master’s of Science Degree in Educational Theory and Practice from Arkansas State University.

In 2017, Audrey completed her National Board Certification in Grades 6-12 Mathematics. She coached soccer and taught mathematics for five years in West Memphis, Arkansas before getting married to her husband Kyle and moving to Muskegon in 2017 where she taught at Muskegon High School.

Bride flanked by 16 bridesmaids in pastel dresses of blue, pinks and purple

Some of Audrey’s friends in her wedding in August 2017!

The 2017-18 school year was Audrey’s first year teaching at Western Michigan Christian. She teaches middle school math and basic algebra and coaches WMC’s middle school girls soccer team.

WMC MS soccer team and Coach Audrey having an after game snack

Audrey Coaches WMC’s middle school girl’s soccer team.

Enjoy getting to know her a bit more!

Q & A with Audrey

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

My most favorite teaching moment to date was probably on the Thursday before Easter 2019. I placed math problems in Easter eggs and hid them around the room. It was so fun to watch them get more excited about doing math problems just because they found them in an easter egg!

I placed math problems in Easter eggs and hid them around the room. It was so fun to watch them get more excited about doing math problems just because they found them in an easter egg!

Math is a content area that requires practice so I always love when students are able to still enjoy their time practicing even if it’s something as simple as doing an easter egg hunt. I especially love it here at WMC because so many of the students will even say “thank you” as they leave class. That means the world to me.

We’ve had long talks about how not everything is always going to go your way, and when it doesn’t, to always try to learn what can be improved upon. From this experience, the students learned that failures and mistakes are excellent teaching moments.

We’ve had long talks about how not everything is always going to go your way, and when it doesn’t, to always try to learn what can be improved upon.

Group pic of Audrey and her students having fun.

6th and 7th-grade lock-in at WMC!

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

Most people here don’t know that my favorite food is Indian.

Sampler plate of Indian food.

Audrey’s favorite food is Indian cuisine!

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

I LOVE getting to build relationships with people. I love getting to see these students and the staff every single day.

God has blessed us by allowing us to do life with others who are also uniquely created in his image. By seeing each other every single day, we have the opportunity to see so much more of God as we build relationships!

There are many trials that we go through in life and we are not meant to go through them alone.

There are many trials that we go through in life and we are not meant to go through them alone. It is such a gift to walk alongside students and staff and encourage each other to throw off everything that pulls us away from Christ and to continue to run the race of life with perseverance as we near the day of redemption (Hebrews 12:1-3)!

It is such a gift to walk alongside students and staff and encourage each other to throw off everything that pulls us away from Christ and to continue to run the race of life with perseverance as we near the day of redemption (Hebrews 12:1-3)!

Audrey dressed as a hamburger with french fry hat and Ms. Lile a princess in purple holding a toad.

Hanging out with Ms. Lile, a colleague at WMC, at a high school dance.

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

I LOVE morning devotionals with my first-hour class. I have spent my teaching career in the public school setting. It is so freeing to get to openly talk about the light of the world and the LIFE that only Jesus can offer and the relationship that we get to have with God the Father through the gift of Christ and his Spirit!

I LOVE morning devotionals with my first-hour class. I have spent my teaching career in the public school setting. It is so freeing to get to openly talk about the light of the world and the LIFE that only Jesus can offer and the relationship that we get to have with God the Father through the gift of Christ and his Spirit!

I love getting to hear from my students during this time. They are so courageous as they choose to be vulnerable and share with the class how they relate to the devotional, and how they are being challenged and encouraged. Many of them have chosen to share a devotional as well.

It is so cool to have space set aside each day to intentionally encourage each other to connect with our Creator and Savior. I love hearing them pray. I love hearing them share how God impacts their lives and changes their hearts.

I love hearing them pray. I love hearing them share how God impacts their lives and changes their hearts.

After spending time in the Word together, it is such a blessing to then get to see how the Word of God shapes their lives. During this time they have written encouraging notes to staff and family and they seem to really enjoy it.

Class group photo on Pi Day.

Pi Day celebration with 4th hour!

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 a love of “story.” This has helped me develop relationships with students as I genuinely care about and want to know what God is doing in their lives. 

As relationships are built, it helps me to better understand how to help motivate each student. Having a relationship with students through an appreciation of their story also helps me towards empathy when a student is having a tough day. If a student is acting out it is typically because they are hurting.

As relationships are built, it helps me to better understand how to help motivate each student. Having a relationship with students through an appreciation of their story also helps me towards empathy when a student is having a tough day. If a student is acting out it is typically because they are hurting.

If they have let us into part of their story, it is easier to identify this and then know how to encourage and challenge them.

6. What do you enjoy doing outside of school?

I love spending time with my husband and other family and friends. I also love getting to know more of Jesus by being outdoors in his creation, especially when I get to do that with people I love.

Audrey's husband takes a group selfie while traveling in Scotland with family with ocean view in background

Audrey’s husband takes a group selfie while traveling in Scotland with family in July 2018.

I love learning and I love creating various forms of art. I love being active and working out and doing as many adventures as possible!

Audrey and Kyle sitting in full snowboard gear on a snowy slope with ski lift in background.

Audrey’s snowboarding adventure with fiance Kyle just after he proposed on the top of the mountain. Friends and family were waiting to surprise her at the bottom!

I love to travel and meet new people and try new things and eating all types of food. I love sloths and dolphins and piglets and dogs.

Audrey hugging a sloth in Roatan with hubby behind her.

A dream come true for Audrey! Holding a sloth during Spring Break in Roatan 2019.

7. What’s your specific favorite beverage?

I love coffee! Peet’s is my all time favorite.

Peet's coffee cup

Audrey’s favorite coffee is Peet’s!

As a beloved faculty member, Audrey 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 Audrey and the amazing Kingdom work she does at WMC.

Audrey, 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.

Western Michigan Christian School Offers Spanish Immersion Courses to Middle Schoolers

New Spanish Immersion classes at WMC Help Students Master Foreign Language

Classes Offered to Middle School Students in Grades 7th & 8th

This past school year, Western Michigan Christian welcomed in the first Spanish Immersion students from Muskegon Christian School (PK-6) as 7th graders. WMC offered a 7th-grade Bible class during trimesters 1 and 2 and a Spanish Language Arts class in trimester 3.

Western Michigan Christian Junior High and High School

Profe Johnston enjoyed teaching these students. “I had a great time teaching the first group of 7th-grade immersion students. They are a respectful and talented group!”

In Bible class, “Profe” as the students call him, followed the WMC curriculum for Bible 7 and learned about the history of Israel and Judah. In Language Arts class students learned about Mexican culture and read popular Mexican legends.

Johnston looks forward to growing the program and has set two goals for the 2018-2019 school year, “My first goal is to keep my curriculum for Bible 7 & 8 aligned with the English sections. I want to ensure that my students are meeting the same standards and expectations as their English language peers. My second goal is to incorporate more language-focused activities in all of my classes. In order for immersion students to continue progressing, they need to be challenged to acquire new vocabulary and grammar and not simply rely on their base knowledge from elementary school.”

My first goal is to keep my curriculum for Bible 7 & 8 aligned with the English sections. I want to ensure that my students are meeting the same standards and expectations as their English language peers. My second goal is to incorporate more language-focused activities in all of my classes. In order for immersion students to continue progressing, they need to be challenged to acquire new vocabulary and grammar and not simply rely on their base knowledge from elementary school.

The difference between language immersion in elementary school to middle school and high school is a transition from language acquisition to maintenance and mastery.   

Four of our five WMCS member schools offer Spanish Immersion programs covering the below-listed grades:

Interested in learning more about our Spanish Immersion programs?

ASK US!

Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School (7-12) is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, the schools work together to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian Education in West Michigan.

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

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) together strive to:

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

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