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WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Kevin Aardema

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.

Celebrating Kevin Aardema of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

In the words of Ben Garretson WMC’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian and top runner for WMCS Men’s Cross Country team:

Mr. Aardema is a great teacher and a fantastic coach. He encouraged us in the classroom and on the course. Though he sometimes employed tough love, his dedication to his students and athletes was always evident. We appreciated having him as a teacher and coach and are glad for the impact he’s had on our lives. 

In the words of Abby VanderKooi, WMC’s 2019 Footlocker National Cross Country First Team All-American:

Truthfully I don’t even know what to say, there are too many things to be said! I love Mr. Aardema very much and I have great respect for him. As a coach, he is so chill. I still remember once before a very small not-really-important-for-anything cross country meet I was freaking out about and just really nervous, Mr. Aardema told me, ‘Abby, I will tell you when you need to be nervous for a race!’ And he has proceeded to never tell me I needed to be nervous about a race — okay, maybe nationals, though. He is so calm and collected. He tells me to just go out there and run my race. Even if I am really worried about something, I know that Coach A will always be calm and there for me. He also ALWAYS thinks it’s a great day to run. Sometimes I step into his classroom and it is freezing, rainy, and windy (I HATE THE WIND!) and he says, “It’s a great day to run!” Sometimes you can only laugh at him. I really enjoy having him as a coach and teacher, and I hope he knows that he deserves to be honored on Teacher Tuesday!

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: I graduated from Grosse Pointe South HS and attended Calvin College. I have a master’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.  My first 9 years of teaching were in the Detroit Public School system at Denby High School followed by teaching mathematics at WMC since 2001.

Q: What classes do you teach at WMC?

A: I teach Algebra II, AP Statistics, and AP Calculus. I also coach Cross Country at WMC.

Kay, Adrienne (WMC class of 2014), Josie (WMC class of 2018) and Kevin Aardema. Both daughters were Valedictorians at WMC!

Q: What’s your favorite scripture?

A: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” – Psalm 42:1

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: As I work with kids who are under so much pressure, much of it self created, I remind them of a quote by Bill Murray, “It just doesn’t matter.”   What really matters is your relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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

A: I love getting to know kids.

Kevin kayaking on Lake Superior.

Q: What’s the best part of your day?

A: Cross country practice!

Q: How specifically has the Lord gifted you as an individual and how does that help you as a teacher? 

A: I have been told I am patient.

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

A: I wish I could stop giving grades to kids and just teach and learn for the love of learning.

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

A: The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some great kids.

Kevin Aardema and Kyle Kempster at the Pilgrim Prance, the annual Thanksgiving race these two BFFs pioneered for local runners in 2009. Free race admittance. Silly costumes encouraged.

As you can see Kevin is a man of few words! His sparse responses to the above Q&A leave you wanting to learn more. His daughter, Adrienne Aardema, captured her father thoughtfully in her 2014 Valedictorian address so we decided to share it with you.


Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From My Dad

by Adrienne Aardema

WMC Class of 2014 Valedictorian Speech

I wanted to say something fresh but true tonight, and since many of you know of my dad, Kevin Aardema, I thought I would share some things that I have learned from him.  My Dad is a math teacher and cross-country coach at WMC.  He answers almost all questions with his personal set of one-liners that cover the philosophical spectrum.  I’m sharing with you my top ten list, and I have heard these from him hundreds of times.

10 – Sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

Well, this is a callous (but true) statement for a coach/Dad to make.  It’s blunt, but it reminds me that, on my own, I’m not that great.  The real goodness in me is always God working through me.

9 – If you don’t puke, then you weren’t really trying.

My Dad usually tells us this before races.  In general, it means: “give it your all, even when it hurts or is embarrassing”.

8 – You’re my favorite.

This is my Dad’s way of saying “Good job, but you’d better keep it up because that could change.”

7 – Just go out there and have fun.

…What he told me before my last cross-country meet, and before I ran the slowest time race that I’ve ever run.

6 – It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win.

I find this a little bit contradictory to his last statement about “just go out there and have some fun”, but he is competitive to the core.  Obviously, there is gospel truth in this statement also, because our ultimate victory in Christ does not depend upon our deeds.

5 – The first pancake never comes out well.

My Dad says this every time we make pancakes, but he always looks directly at me, the first-born.  I’m still not sure what this means, but he always throws the first pancake in the trash.

4 – I am a pizza genius!!

…the contagious power of optimism.  My Dad makes this remark every time he makes pizza, whether or not it is burnt, or tasteless, or wonderful.

3 – You’re just a stupid kid.

This is my Dad’s off-hand way of offering grace, but it also puts me in my place.

2 – The pain is only temporary.

This is my Dad’s constant advice when he is encouraging me to finish something difficult.

1 – A bath solves everything.

I should probably say something about baptism, but I think he really means a bath

These are the Elemental Aardema Truths, and whether I want to or not, I will carry them with me as I leave my home and childhood. 

There are also Elemental Truths that WMC has offered us:  they involve hope and grace and courage and friendship.  I am grateful for them.  Thank you teachers and families and coaches for the life lessons you leave with us.

I wish my classmates well, as they carry their own legacies into adulthood.

Thank you and God bless you.

As a beloved faculty member, Kevin is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him 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, Kevin! 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 WMC or any of our five schools?

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