West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Outdoor Learning

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Ann Yonker

WMCS Teachers are Extraordinary!

It takes extraordinary people, living extraordinary lives to proclaim the truth of the Gospel through their work as teachers. At WMCS we have MANY such people and we love to celebrate them!

Last year we launched, Teacher Tuesday and it was a wonderful way to highlight a very special teacher from all five West Michigan Christian Schools every week. We’re excited to start the campaign again, so be sure to check our social media every Tuesday to see who will be featured that week. Teacher Tuesday is a GREAT opportunity to encourage these PK-12 teachers, drop off their favorite drink (see blog post for what that is) and thank them for their service! Our faculty collectively use their giftedness to 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.

Ann Yonker

Celebrating Ann Yonker of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

In the words of FCS Principal, Nick Donkersloot:

Mrs. Yonker has a joy and love for her students and that is evident each and every day. A veteran teacher whom others lean on for advice and support, Ann always has time for everyone. Mrs. Yonker has the unique ability to create a whole world with just her words when she is telling a Bible story. Mrs. Yonker never settles for mediocre, both in her and her student’s work. She is constantly pushing herself and others to be the best that they can be.  

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: I have taught at Fremont Christian for 29 years.

Field Trip to Muskegon Winter Sports Park with my 2nd graders. 


Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 2nd-grade Outdoor Education – it’s the best!! 

Me and my students in the classroom.

Q: Do you have kids there? Graduated from there?

A: Both of my sons graduated from FCS and WMCHS. Jonathan is 24 and Tyler is 20.

The Yonker Family: Jonathan, Ann, Steve, and Tyler.

A very proud moment – watching my son graduate from Marine Boot Camp in SanDiego, California.


Q: What’s your favorite teaching moment(s) to date?

A: It is really hard to come up with just one!  As a working mom, you sometimes feel like you are missing the time spent with your children, so it was very special for me to have both of my sons in my classroom.  It gave me a glimpse into their lives as students and I was finally able to go on field trips with my own children! 

Q: What your favorite memory of a student who came back after graduation and contacted you? 

A: I love going to High School events and having former students come up to me.  It is great hearing what is going on in their lives and it means a lot that they are willing to take the time to say hi and talk a bit. 

Q: What’s something fun that most people do not know about you?

A: I love to travel and try new things!  I have visited 48 states and toured through 27 different countries.  I’ve tried high ropes courses, white water rafting, the Muskegon Luge run, and skydiving.    

Kayaking in beautiful Glacier National Park 

A very friendly mountain goat we encountered while hiking on the Highline Trail in Glacier!
My favorite place in Yellowstone National Park – Grand Prismatic Spring!

Getting ready to ride the luge run in Muskegon.

Camping near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. 

Q: What do you love most about your job and why? 

A: I love teaching second grade!  Second graders are excited about learning and school, but what I love the most is building relationships with students.  I get very close to my students after a whole year and really miss them when they move on (or have to be at home because of distance learning!).  Because I am in lower elementary I get to watch them grow up and move through the grades at FCS.  I love going to All-School chapels and having older students come up to me for a hug and to say hi.   

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: I love prayer journal time with my class.  We gather on the floor and share what is on our minds and hearts. It is a time when I learn as much from my students as I hope they learn from me.  It is powerful to hear your students praying for you! I am so grateful to be at a school where I can share my faith and sit in a circle with my students as we pray for each other. 

Q: If there was anything you could change about your job, what would it be? 


A: Report cards!  It is impossible to give parents a good idea of what their child is like at school with the grades you give on a piece of paper.  No child can be defined by a report card!

Q: What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

A: Coke Zero – I’m a caffeine junky!

Q: What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

A: That every fall I get to start over at a job I love!  Teaching never gets boring because each year you can do things differently with a whole new group of students.  I am also very grateful for the overwhelming support of parents, fellow staff, administration, and school board.

As a beloved faculty member, Ann is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have her as part of our school family!  

A Small Token of Appreciation

Thank you from all of your colleagues and school families at WMCS!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Ann! It’s two $10 gifts from our two WMCS retail fundraising partners, DIBS! on Resale and B2 Outlet Store Muskegon.

To redeem, please check-in at the front desk at DIBS! on Resale in Muskegon so they can award you this token of appreciation — $10 goes a long way, so enjoy the shop, Chad!

To redeem your $10 off at our B2 Outlet Store, go shopping and then submit your B2 sales receipt to your school principal and we’ll send you a check to reimburse you!

Relocated to a new store in Muskegon in January of 2019, DIBS! On Resale proceeds benefit our local West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS). In the fall of the same year, we also celebrated the opening of our second retail fundraising partner, B2 Outlet Store. Both stores exist to help raise funds for all five of our schools 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.

Curious if you should switch your kids to FCS or any of our five schools?

Do you have a toddler? Time to start thinking about a school system partner. Being a PK-12 school system, WMCS is one-stop Christian education!

LEARN MORE about us!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with New Era Christian School’s Paula DeRoos

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 Paula DeRoos of New Era Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Paule and her white Bichon Grace.

Paula and her best buddy Gracie.

The 2018-19 school year was Paula’s first year teaching at New Era Christian School. She teaches 3rd and 4th-grade. Being that she is from the Holland/Zeeland area, her children attended Borculo Christian and Zeeland West High School.

Paula graduated from Northwestern College with a B.A. in Education and English. After that, she attended Western Michigan University for her counseling masters and to Grand Valley State University for a masters in Educational Leadership.

In public education, Paula worked as a middle school teacher, high school teacher and counselor, reading coach, a district union president, and a high school principal.  In Christian education, she currently works at Cornerstone University as a part-time professor and has been a middle school teacher and principal. Paula retired from public school education as a high school principal in 2015.

She and her husband Kevin DeRoos plan to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Germany this summer.

Kevin and Paula and Lucy an infant

Kevin and Paula and their great-niece Lucy.

They have two grown daughters: Lindsey Castro and her husband Carlos who live in Harper Creek, MI and Kelsey DeRoos, who just graduated from GVSU. Animal lovers, they have three-quarter horses and two dogs.

Paula and Horse in pasture.

Paula and Hot Rod, one of her quarter horses, in the pasture.

Paula brings a vast amount of expertise to NEC and we are so grateful!

Q & A w/ Paula:

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

A: The lesson of tithing first gifts to God had been our focus in the day’s Bible lesson.  For science, students brought in many types of rocks and I had ordered Geodes for all of them.

That day, we had fun cracking the rocks open and learning what caused the crystal formation. A fellow teacher came out of her room hysterically laughing. She heard this conversation with two of my boys.

One boy said, “Those aren’t just crystals. Mrs. DeRoos is wrong. They’re diamonds! I’m going to sell mine and make a lot of money. What are you going to  do?”New Era Christian School Store

The other boy said, “I’m going to sell mine too, and buy a new Xbox with my money.  What are you going to do with yours?”

The first young man said, “Wait a minute.  We’d better give some to the school, you know the first gift goes to God. They gave us the rocks. They are going to do an addition.  We can really make it really cool! Then I’ll buy my PS 4.”

We’d better give some to the school, you know the first gift goes to God. They gave us the rocks. They are going to do an addition.  We can really make it really cool! Then I’ll buy my PS 4.

2.   Q: What is the best part of your day? 

A: I love our opening day devotions.  The children pick two praise songs they love and sing their hearts out. The students create choreography for each song. We say the memory verse together, read a devotion, talk about praises and prayer requests in our life and pray.  It is such a special time for us with God and each other.

Daughters Lindsey and Kelsey take a selfie with Kevin and Paula.

Daughters Lindsey and Kelsey take a selfie with Kevin and Paula.

3. Q: What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

A: Phil Morse (NEC principal) and I met through our common mentor, Jack Postma.  I am thankful for both of them! Jack connected me to Phil when he needed a teacher, and I wanted to continue teaching little kids.  

I had been a principal for several years but wanted the joy of being with the kids again. Jack told me, “You will know you are in the right place to which God has called you when the deepest gladness of your heart meets the deep hunger of the world.” I feel that every day at New Era Christian.

You will know you are in the right place to which God has called you when the deepest gladness of your heart meets the deep hunger of the world.

Jack passed away after his fifth victory with cancer on October 26th, 2018. He would have loved to see God’s continued work at New Era Christian School, a place he loved, the right place to which God has called us!

Paula fishing in Colorado

Paula fishing in Colorado.

4. Q: What’s your specific favorite non-alcoholic beverage? 

A: Diet Cherry Coke with a bit of fizz and a cherry on top!

diet cherry coke

As a beloved faculty member, Paula 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 Paula and the amazing Kingdom work she does at NEC.

Paula, 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.