West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Teaching for Transformation

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Mark Hill

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.

In the words of Pastor Samuel Greer, WMC Administrator:

Our WMC middle school students know that they are in for a special treat under the leadership of Mr. Hill. Mark is a treasure of wisdom and knowledge. He is able to adapt to any and every situation. Science and the principles of this universe come alive under the instruction of Mr. Mark Hill.

Celebrating Mark Hill of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Q: How many years have you taught there?

A: I have nearly completed my first year of teaching at WMC.  Prior to coming to WMC, I taught for 21 years in the public school system.

Q: What classes/grades do you teach?

A: I teach 7th and 8th-grade science, language arts, and STEM.

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

A: I have two boys.  Andrew graduated from WMC last year and is currently attending Calvin University.  Ethan is in 10th grade at WMC.

Me with my sons Andrew (left) and Ethan (right).

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

A: This is going to sound weird but, the day classes resumed after finding out that Mr. Vredevoogd had passed away.  It was one of the hardest teaching days in my life. However, what turned it into a favorite moment is that we had an opportunity to come together as a community of believers and discuss our faith and how Christ has overcome death.  I have never felt so supported as a teacher than I had that day and I could feel the Holy Spirit working among us.

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

A: My wife Rhonda (DeBoer) (WMC class of ‘92) who teaches at Muskegon Christian School, and her two sisters, Gina (WMC class of ‘86) and Marla (WMC class of ‘89) are also alumni of WMC.  Small world!

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

A: I love coming to work every day to be with the kids- hearing their stories and connecting with them on a more personal level.  It is why I chose the profession I did.

Q: What’s the best part of your day? 

A: Starting our day with a word of prayer.  It gives us a moment to pause and focus and thank God for the day he has set forth before us.

John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (NIV)

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

A: Most people would agree that you have to be a little “different” to teach middle school students.  I LOVE working with this age group! They are so full of life, energy, and questions that you have to be on your toes and ready for anything to happen during the day.

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

A: Vernors!

Q:    How do you feel Teaching for Transformation will augment or re-shape your tactics/approach/perspective as a Christian educator?

A: I am excited to be an early adopter for TfT.  The ability for kids to tie their academic work to their faith is what is truly exciting.  I have been trained in Project-Based Learning (PBL) and TfT gives students the “Greater Why”- we are Servants Called to Serve! 

We are currently looking at body systems and diseases that might affect these systems. Students are in the process of choosing how we want to serve kids their age who may have a disease or medical condition.  Stay tuned to see what they choose!

AS A BELOVED FACULTY MEMBER, MARK 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

A heartfelt THANK YOU, from all of your colleagues at WMCS and the school families!

We have a couple of small tokens of appreciation for you, Mark! 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!

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 about starting your child in WMC’s Middle School program?

LEARN MORE.

Early Adopters Emerge in the West Michigan Christian Schools Teaching for Transformation Program

The Education of a “Peculiar People”

By Jennifer Van Hekken, WMCS PK-8 Curriculum Director & TfT Director

You may have heard the phrase “Teaching for Transformation” thrown around in various school communications and maybe you’re curious what it means.

Teaching for Transformation (TfT) is a program that is being integrated into Christian schools across the country, and we (the WMCS 5-school PK-12 system) are excited to be added to that esteemed list of schools.

The TfT model of education begins with three years of faculty training. Year one begins with eight modules, or lessons, delivered to all WMCS teachers.  In the second year of TfT, twenty-five percent of the staff emerge as early adopters of the program and begin implementing the framework into their classrooms. Year three of TfT focuses on the training of the remaining three-fourths of the staff, moving the early adopters into a training role.

Our faculty is shifting into teaching for the purpose of transformation, not just the transfer of information.

As WMCS enters our second year of training, I’m excited to observe unique teaching and learning already taking shape in our schools. Our faculty is shifting into teaching for the purpose of transformation, not just the transfer of information. Our children experience a lot of noise (literal information overload) and teachers are challenged with competing with that. TfT has a way of breaking through the clutter, creating an emotional and spiritual connection that spurs a deeper learning experience that truly sticks. I am wholeheartedly convinced that this is the right way to do Christian education in the 20th Century!   

Our children experience a lot of noise (literal information overload) and teachers are challenged with competing with that. TfT has a way of breaking through the clutter, creating an emotional and spiritual connection that spurs a deeper learning experience that truly sticks.

At WMCS it is our desire that beyond anything else, our students understand that they are a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) who play an important role in God’s story and are set apart to do “good works which have been laid out for them in advance” (Ephesians 2:10).  TfT equips teachers to weave this concept into all of their lessons, making for an impactful and transformational learning environment. 

I am wholeheartedly convinced that this is the right way to do Christian education in the 20th Century!  

Our early adopters are already capturing this vision in their classrooms through the addition of their Deep Hope for their students and the creation of a Storyline for their classrooms.

WMCS TfT Early Adopters Explain it Best

Athena Findlay (GHC) has chosen the Storyline “Find Your Purpose,” and is reminding her students through all of their English Language Arts studies that, as they read others’ stories, they themselves also play a role in God’s story, and they are challenged to consider their own purpose in that story.

Athena Findley, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a middle school English teacher at Grand Haven Christian School.

Jen Menefee (MCS) has chosen the Storyline “Loved by God,” and spends time in her classroom reminding her students that all of the people groups that they study in Social Studies, as well as every student in the classroom, is loved by God, which changes how they see both themselves and others.

Jen Menefee, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a second-grade teacher at Muskegon Christian School.

Nick Debone (WMC/MCS) has chosen the Storyline “Created to Worship.” He reminds his students that regardless of what type of music they are playing, what instrument they have chosen, and how difficult a piece can be, their ultimate goal is to understand that they were created to worship and that they get to use Band class to live that out. 

Nick DeBone, a Teaching for Transformation early adopter, is a band director at Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School.

Believers are God’s Own Special People

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

As a 5-school PK-12 collaborative, we are so excited about the way that the TfT framework can continue to help us intentionally integrate faith and learning in a way that not only helps our students grow but also brings about transformation in both students’ and teachers’ lives. 

For more information about the WMCS Teaching for Transformation program, please contact us!

This article appeared in the West Michigan Christian Schools PK-12 Faith Matters Newsletter, Fall 2019 print edition. To read the full newsletter click here.

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.

The West Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative Annual 2019 Golf Outing

The WMCS Annual Golf Outing is the only fundraising event of the year that benefits all five member schools. It’s so well-attended that the spots are selling out early!

This year we gathered at Chase Hammond Golf Course on September 14, 2019, as the sun started to rise. Our generous sponsors, partners, and supporters arrived ready for a fun day of best-ball golf while raising funds for the WMCS faculty Teaching for Transformation (TfT) program.

WMCS is excited to announce that we’ve raised $35,000 toward our $50k 3-year goal. That puts us right on track as we enter year two of the three-year faculty TfT training.

It’s due to your support and the steadfast generosity of our sponsors that allows WMCS to provide our staff with what they need to provide excellent education for children at our five schools.

We are always humbled by and so grateful for the generous support:

Platinum Sponsors: BettenBaker, Gort & Kraker and Summit Laboratory;

Gold sponsors: Advanced Printing & Graphics, Bishop Heating and Air, B2 Outlets Stores, DIBS! On Resale, and West Coast Pediatric Dentistry.

Silver sponsors: Hometown Pharmacy, B&B Designs, Independent Bank, Bornw Bear, Shelby State Bank. Don Rypma Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, Landscape Design, Country Dairy, Cedar Crest Dairy, and Cornerstone University. 


Envelope Please. And the Winners Are …

1st Place, with a score of 57:

From left to right:
Dean Johnson, Jeremiah Johnson, Daniel Rosema and Caleb Johnson.
Caleb, an all-state golfer in his days at WMC, was also a member of last year’s first-place foursome.

2nd Place, with a score of 59:

From left to right: The Rop brothers: Steve, Stan, Dave and Keith.

3rd Place, with a score of 60:

From left to right:
Kevin Kamphuis, Chad Kamphuis, Caleb Ledger and Adam Ledger.

BETTER TOGETHER: The WMCS Golf Outing is an All-School Effort

Hosted and coordinated by the WMCS Golf Committee,  the event was a collaborative effort led by a representative from each of our 5 schools.  The WMCS Golf Committee included Heidi Snyder of FCSPhil Morse of NECLisa Taylor of MCSKristin Clausing of GHC, Scott Liggett of WMC, and Kimberlee Mitchell, who reps for the WMCS 5-school collaborative.

WMCS thanks all sponsors and everyone who came out to play and help make the event such a success. Be sure to sign up early next year to secure a spot!

WHAT IS WMCS?

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.

OUR PK-12 SCHOOL FAMILY INCLUDES:

Interested in helping West Michigan Christian School reach its Teaching for Transformation fundraising goal?

Please EMAIL US! 

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.

A Mona Shores Sailor Takes on Being a WMC Warrior for a Day

Student School-Swap Breaks Stereotype of Christian Education

In May, four high school students from Mona Shores High School and WMC swapped schools for a day.  The WMC guests were Bailey Graham and Robby Swanker while the Shores guests were Carli Betten and Ben Garretson. The students were paired with a shadow guide who they stuck with all day long at each school.

The Wandering as a Warrior article (pictured above) ran in the Mona Shore’s Sailor’s Log on May 28th.

Bailey’s touching perspective of WMC was so intriguing that we decided to interview her for our own article.

Bailey explained that her pre-conceived perception of WMC was that our school was “super strict, extremely religious, enforced a stringent dress code and was very small.” Prior to coming, she knew of only two WMC students (Hayden Hubers and Gabi Buikema) due to their Instagram presence and a large following. But after spending a day in the life of a Warrior it “wasn’t at all what I thought it would be,” admitted Bailey.

tear sheet of the Sailor's Log article

This stereotype-busting exercise was an eye-opening experience in several ways. Bailey was nervous that she was going to be judged for her clothing and that there would be a strict dress code. Upon arrival at WMC, she realized that student clothing styles and fashion were the same as her school.

The biggest impact that WMC had on her was the depth of the relationship between the students and teachers. “There was an underlying tone of love, and caring for one another and God that was carried throughout the day. Students and teachers at WMC are connected at a different level.  Like a close-knit family,”  shared Bailey, who is a sophomore at Shores.

There was an underlying tone of love, and caring for one another and God that was carried throughout the day. Students and teachers at WMC are connected at a different level.  Like a close-knit family

Walking through the halls she felt very comfortable. There was less crowding and fewer kids than Shores. “I was lucky enough to attend a chapel where Pastor Greer spoke. I’ve never seen someone talk about their faith so passionately!” shared Bailey.

I was lucky enough to attend a chapel where Pastor Greer spoke. I’ve never seen someone talk about their faith so passionately!

“Then we all joined in prayer for the graduating seniors, which was really cool. At Shores, we can only do a moment of silence since school prayer is now considered unconstitutional.”

About WMC

Western Michigan Christian (WMC) is a middle school and high school located in Norton Shores, Michigan. Each day we are looking for new and better ways to integrate the Christian faith into every aspect of our school. At every level and in each area, your children will be challenged academically and encouraged spiritually to fulfill their God-given purpose. At Western Michigan Christian it is our mission is to educate with excellence, integrate faith with knowledge, equip students to work and serve Christ in their communities.

WMC is part of West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS), 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.

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 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!

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Fremont Christian School’s Lizzie Van Wyk

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 Lizzie van Wyk of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Preschool teacher Lizzie Van Wyk works with preschoolers that are all in the age range of 3-5 years old! Currently, in the 2018-19 school year,  she has thirty-four students that bring so much happiness and joy to her life!
 
Lizzie is a FCS alum too! She grew up in Fremont, and attended Fremont Christian School from PreK through 8th grade! She loves to interact with those who poured so much time into helping her grow to be a follower of Christ when she was a young student! Now, she gets the honor of teaching the children & grandchildren of her former instructors! To that point, Lizzie strongly feels that there is nothing that speaks more to her than this verse:  “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4) “I had so many teachers throughout my time as a student at FCS that really declared the Lord’s mighty acts to me. I will forever be grateful for the time I spent here as a student, and I will continue to share with the next generation!” declared Lizzie.
 
I had so many teachers throughout my time as a student at FCS that really declared the Lord’s mighty acts to me. I will forever be grateful for the time I spent here as a student, and I will continue to share with the next generation!
 
Volleyball team selfie

I have loved coaching middle school volleyball with my co-coach Kaitlyn Arendsen!

 
She graduated from Calvin College with a BA in Early Childhood Education and began teaching at FCS in 2016.
 
Lizzie and 3 other YL leaders

In my free time, I spend a lot of time with high school students from Fremont High School through Fremont Young Life! We have a great time learning about Jesus, telling stories, playing crazy games and building relationships! This picture is of the 4 Fremont YL leaders and was taken up at Timberwolf Lake, a Young Life camp!

 
When she is not at school, Lizzie spends time on the lake with her extended family, she coaches middle school volleyball and ministers to high schoolers through Fremont Young Life!
Lizzie and friends on a boat

Spending time out on Fremont Lake with some friends from college!

 
Lizzie loves her job, and coming to work is so life-giving that most days she says that it doesn’t feel like “work.” Her favorite part about teaching at FCS is being able to show children the ways God blesses us each day, through the small things like learning how to snap, to the big things like reading your first book! 
 
Lizzie loves her job, and coming to work is so life-giving that most days she says that it doesn’t feel like work.
 
Lizzie and her husband Zach

My husband Zach is a youth director at 2nd CRC in Fremont. He is also a Young Life church partner! We’ve been married since 2016, and love living and working in Fremont together!

 
Lizzie shared that “God has richly blessed Fremont Christian Preschool, and I continue to learn new things about the Lord and the intricate human beings he created.”
 
God has richly blessed Fremont Christian Preschool, and I continue to learn new things about the Lord and the intricate human beings he created.

Everyone at FCS and all of us at WMCS are grateful for her wonderful contribution!

Q & A with Lizzie

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

A: Every year I challenge myself to try three new things throughout the year. This year my 3 things have been:

  • Start a garden at my house! It has been SO fun to research, plan out, plant, and tend to! 
  • My sister and I started a small business together this year, and it has given me GREAT JOY and time to try new projects as well as spend time with her! JoyJane Designs is a shop of recycled/refurbished Christmas handmade products. (When the website or social media accounts launch, we’ll add a link. Stay tuned!)
  • Playing the Piano! I took lessons for eight years when I was in elementary/middle school, but really hadn’t played for the last nine years! I picked it back up this year when I got a second-hand piano from some church friends, and I LOVE it!
2.   Q: How specifically has the Lord gifted you?

A:  I love trying new things! I also love a good challenge. Teaching can be a great challenge, and every day in preschool is a new, unique, and challenging day so that seems to be a great combination! 

I love trying new things! I also love a good challenge. Teaching can be a great challenge, and every day in preschool is a new, unique, and challenging day so that seems to be a great combination! 

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

A: I am most grateful for the families that entrust us with their kids! I’m thankful for the partnerships that we have and that we can all see them as children of God, who are unique and growing in Christ! 

Classroom shot of kids dresses in Seuss costumes

The preschoolers enjoyed dressing up as the Cat in the Hat this year! One of my preschool aides, Gail Wagenmaker jumped right in on the fun of being Thing 1 & Thing 2!

I am most grateful for the families that entrust us with their kids! I’m thankful for the partnerships that we have and that we can all see them as children of God, who are unique and growing in Christ! 

 
4. Q: What’s your favorite drink?

A: Some of our family friends own a farm in Hudsonville that produces ginger soda & Elderflower soda! That has definitely been my beverage of choice for the past few years!

Cans of Ginger & Elderflower Soda

Ginger & Elderflower Craft Soda are Lizzie’s faves!

I’m also an avid coffee drinker, but I can NOT handle it black! Pass the flavored creamer, please! 

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

A: We were learning about animal habitats and traits. I asked my students if anyone knew what the word nocturnal means, and a little boy raised his hand and ever so enthusiastically said: “ When you knock on a turtle shell!”

Another favorite moment happened this year. We have been learning the song “Great are You, Lord” by All Sons & Daughters. We were learning the part where it says, “we pour out our praise to YOU only.” Every line we learned, we discussed what it meant, and one of my youngest students ever so sweetly said, “I wish I could pour out my praise to Jesus all the time.” It was such a sweet reminder for me! 
 
6. Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: The thing I love the most about my job is that I get to see first hand how God is working in the lives of small children. This is most prominent in how they relate with each other, how they explore HIS creation, and how their curiosity about Jesus gives me great opportunities to talk about how much HE loves them!

The thing I love the most about my job is that I get to see first hand how God is working in the lives of small children. This is most prominent in how they relate with each other, how they explore HIS creation, and how their curiosity about Jesus gives me great opportunities to talk about how much HE loves them!

Lizzie on living room floor reading to her nieces and nephew

Altogether, I have 6 nieces and 1 nephew that live in Fremont, Muskegon, and Iowa! They know that every time they ask me to read a book, that I simply can’t say no to them!

7. Q: What’s the best part of your day?

A: The best part of my day is our morning meeting! I get to hear what is on the hearts of the littles in my room, who they want to pray for, what fun things they did this weekend, and what they are looking forward to learning more about!

3-shot of Lizzie and her mom and sister

Thrift shopping is the name of the game – and a large part of the small business that my sister and I have!

As a beloved faculty member, Lizzie 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 Lizzie and the amazing Kingdom work she does at FCS.

Lizzie, 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.

 

 

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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.

WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Grand Haven Christian School’s Tyler Ray

Teachers are the heart of WMCS!

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 Tyler Ray of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Grand Haven Christian School Store

The 208-19 school year marks Tyler’s third year at Grand Haven Christian School where he teaches physical education and technology to young fives all the way up to 8th-grade teens.

He attended New Era Christian School as a child went on to graduate high school from Western Michigan Christian. He is a WMCS alum through and through! 

Tyler and his wife Breanna met as juniors at WMC in high school.

Tyler and Bre on their wedding day on a bridge outside

Tyler and his wife Breanna met as juniors at WMC in high school.

They have been married for almost three years and are the proud parents of two golden retriever puppies!

two golden retrievers on a couch

Tyler and Breanna’s fur babies, Opie and Piper.

After WMC, Tyler headed to college and received his teaching degree from Cornerstone University. When he enrolled I was taking macroeconomics and finance courses, but God had other plans! (See question #7 below to learn more about his journey into education.)

 Enjoy getting to know him a bit more!

Q & A with Tyler

1.  What is your favorite memory of a student who came back after graduation and contacted you?

In addition to teaching at GHC, I have the great opportunity of coaching the WMC boys junior varsity basketball team. That’s where I get to see a few players that I had in class at Grand Haven Christian! It is fun to be in a teaching environment that is different from a traditional school setting. We get to spend A LOT of time together, which just makes the relationship we built at GHC even stronger.  

It is fun to be in a teaching environment that is different from a traditional school setting.

Coach Ray and the JV basketball team on the sideline

Coach Ray giving his WMC JV boys basketball team direction during a timeout.

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

During my college summers and leading up to my first teaching opportunity, I worked on a farm for five years.

Our largest crops were apples, cherries asparagus, but we also grew strawberries, peaches, and blueberries. I loved being out in God’s creation, driving tractors and sprayers, and being able to literally harvest the fruits of our labor.

I loved being out in God’s creation, driving tractors and sprayers, and being able to literally harvest the fruits of our labor.

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

What I love most about my job is the opportunity to connect and build relationships with students. I do enjoy the craziness of running around, playing games, and teaching new sports. However, being able to sit down and have a conversation about what’s going on in their life, how their day is going or leading a short devotion is what makes all of this so awesome.

I grew up with great mentors because of Christian education and if I can be that same person who can share my faith and be a role model than I believe I have done my job as an educator in a Christian school.

I grew up with great mentors because of Christian education and if I can be that same person who can share my faith and be a role model than I believe I have done my job as an educator in a Christian school.

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

The best part of my day is about fifteen minutes before the first bell rings. Usually consisting of middle schoolers, anywhere from 2 – 12 students come into my office just to hang out and talk. Some of them bring in some last minute homework but others just stop by to tell me about their weekend or day, ask me about how I fit on the moped I drive to school, or to grab a kickball and just bounce it off the wall. To the passers-by, it may seem like chaos at times but to me, it is a place of joy, smiles, and laughter.

The best part of my day is about fifteen minutes before the first bell rings.. students come into my office just to hang out and talk…To the passers-by, it may seem like chaos at times but to me, it is a place of joy, smiles, and laughter.

Group photo of Tyler and some early elementary students outside

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 patience for both Kindergartners and Middle Schoolers. He has blessed me with a large presence that I can use to motivate and encourage physical activity and exercise as well as a passion to be a leader. I love to teach and coach and with that, I can share my experiences to help others in their academics, faith, and everyday life.

I love to teach and coach and with that, I can share my experiences to help others in their academics, faith, and everyday life.

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?Can of Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer

I try to limit myself to just drinking water, but on a hot summer day, my favorite would be an Arnold Palmer. I usually try to sneak that large Arizona jug onto the grocery list.

 

7. What are you most grateful for when it comes to your job?

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have taught at New Era Christian where I attended K – 8th,  but also for my current position at Grand Haven Christian.

When I enrolled in college I was taking macroeconomics and finance. I had zero intentions of being a teacher. Then I realized God had different plans and a passion for Physical Education blossomed!

Every day I am so grateful to be able to share the love of Christ and spend time with these students.

When I enrolled in college I was taking macroeconomics and finance. I had zero intentions of being a teacher. Then I realized God had different plans and a passion for Physical Education blossomed. Every day I am so grateful to be able to share the love of Christ and spend time with these students.

Tyler and Bre holding massive iguana

Tyler and his bride Bre enjoying the Mayan Riviera.

 

As a beloved faculty member, Tyler is a special part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating him and the amazing Kingdom work he does at GHC.

Tyler and his lovely wife in a flower field

Tyler and Breanna Ray

Tyler, 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 Fremont Christian School’s Pedro Chuchoque

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 Pedro Chuchoque of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Pedro Chuchoque became part of the FCS faculty in 2017 and teaches all subjects of second-grade Spanish Immersion. 

He studied graphic design in college in Bogota, Colombia before moving to Costa Rica for two years, where he met his Michigander wife. 
 
Pedro relocated to Michigan and attended Eastern Gateway Community College. Before coming to FCS, he worked as a paraprofessional at Rockford Public Schools.  He plans to continue his education in the future.
Pedro and Amanda smiling selfie with bandanas on their heads

Pedro and his lovely bride Amanda!

Pedro explains his journey into Christian education as divine. He shares that he was “guided by God” who led him to FCS when he was at a public school in a different position.  He followed a prompting to contact the principal at FCS, and after talking with him, he was curious to learn more. 

Pedro visited FCS, saw a lot of great things but specifically loved how students had the opportunity to learn more about the Bible in the classroom.  He made the transition and “feels really blessed to be part of this great school.” 

Pedro and his wife Amanda have four children; Giovanni 4, Malekai 8, Zahara 10, and Camryn 16.

Family selfie in front of forest

Giovanni, 4, wife Amanda, Pedro, Malekai, 8, Zahara, 10, and Camryn, 16, (pictured right to left).

They love to have fun as a family, spend time with each other and do everything together! 

group photo in front of Ark Encounter

The Chochuque’s experience Ark Encounter!

Pedro takes family selfie outside in a wood bridge

Family time in the great outdoors!

family photo in front park sign

More family adventures!

Everyone at FCS and all of us at WMCS are grateful for his wonderful contribution!

Q & A with Pedro

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

This year I was nominated for the WGVU Cool Teacher Contest by my 2nd grade Spanish Immersion student Mercedes (pictured below). Last week I found out that I was a “Cool Teacher”  winner! What an honor and what fun for my students! I was really surprised when I received the news about both the nomination and the win — I was deeply touched.

The TV station came to our school to shoot some video and do some interviews, which was exciting for the students to experience. They are also are going to throw our class a congratulatory party so we look forward to the fiesta! It was a great experience, I think they will remember that moment for the rest of their lives.  We can’t wait to see the segment air on TV! 

2.   How specifically has the Lord gifted you?

The Lord helps me in my work by giving me the encouragement, energy and great support from family and friends to make everything possible.  If you believe in yourself, with God by your side everything is possible!

If you believe in yourself, with God by your side everything is possible!

Happy Chochoque faces

Happy Chochoque faces

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

To see the students’ progress is #1.

But the family support and their trust in me to help and teach their children is a very, very close second!

Pedro and students with funny red and link fake lip kazoos in their mouths

Pedro and his students having fun while learning!

4. What’s your favorite drink?

Coca-cola!

 

 
As a beloved faculty member, Pedro is part of the heart of WMCS. We are BLESSED and FAVORED to have him as part of our school family!  Join us all in celebrating Pedro and the amazing Kingdom work he does at FCS.

Pedro, 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.

 

 

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