West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Whitney Jackson

Western Michigan Christian Schools Collaborative Staff Spotlight Fall 2019

The Power of Teamwork

The “Collaborative” or West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS), is a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with the goal of creating a seamless, exemplary preschool through high school Christian educational experience for local families. Together, FCS, GHC, NEC, MCS, and WMC provide excellent Christian education rooted in the Gospel to all who desire it.

This “better together” teamwork is personified by a growing staff that works behind-the-scenes to help fulfill the goal and mission of WMCS while adding a professional level of support to each school.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had. – Acts 4:32

Introducing, TEAM WMCS, the Collaborative Support Staff for all Five Schools

WMCS Collaborative staff (pictured above) includes (top, left to right:) Larry Schutt, Mary Workman, Cathy Schaaf, Kimberlee Mitchell, (bottom row) Whitney Piersma, Dan DeKam, and Jennifer Van Hekken.

LARRY SCHUTT, WMCS CFO, joined in 2018.

“I love supporting the WMCS principals on the business side of school operations as much as they love supporting the teachers who are on the frontline of Christian education.”

WHITNEY JACKSON, Director of Educational Support Services, since 2016.

“Working with the WMCS collaborative allows me to create procedures system-wide to ensure all schools share the same vision for supporting students with diverse learning needs. This helps create consistency and build a community of collaboration between teams at each school that allows us to use each other as resources!”

KIMBERLEE MITCHELL, Director of Marketing Communications, since 2016.

“I enjoy working with the ‘Fab Five” principals, their support staff and the managers of DIBS! and B2 to sustain and raise the bar for excellence of transformative Christian education! It’s true Kingdom work!”

JENN VANHEKKEN, Director of TfT since 2017 and K-8 Curriculum Development, since 2015.

“What I love most about what I do is having the ability to walk alongside our teachers to help them strengthen their understanding of integrating faith and learning in a way that is meaningful and intentional while also
strengthening their curriculum and their use of best practices for learning in the classroom.”

CATHY SCHAAF, WMCS Accountant, since May 2019.

“I am very excited to be working with the WMCS collaborative! It’s an excellent idea for all of the schools to work together to provide the best Christian education. I’ve been involved in Christian education for most of my life as a student and now as a parent with sons who were blessed by the K-12 WMCS system.”

MARY WORKMAN, DIBS! On Resale Store Manager since early 2017.

“Working with the WMCS collaborative board for DIBS! has given me the opportunity to give back to the schools that have supported me and my family.”

DAN DEKAM, WMCS Collaborative Director since 2014

“It has been gratifying to see how the collaborative model has strengthened our Christian Schools in West Michigan.”

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.

WMC is the Lakeshore’s #1 Choice for Christian High School

Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School (7-12th grade) is the Secondary School Destination for Many PK-6 and PK-8th Grade Schools in the Lakeshore Area

WMC offers students and families much support as well as unique academic programs.

Here’s a snapshot below:


Jeff Schipper, who joined WMC in 2018 as the guidance counselor, delights in helping students navigate the best path per their talents and goals.

Whether students are on the 4-year college, community college or trade school track, Mr. Schipper facilitates the discernment process by meeting with each student yearly to set and evaluate their goals.

He also is available to support students with social and emotional needs.

Guidance Questions?


WMC’s Haley Langejans (ESS
Teacher) and Dan Garland (ESS
Accommodations Coordinator).

WMC’s Educational Support Services (ESS) team includes Haley Langejans who serves as an ESS Teacher and Dan Garland, an ESS Accommodations Coordinator.

The ESS department is overseen by WMCS ESS Director Whitney Jackson, who works alongside classroom teachers (pictured right) to provide support to students with diagnosed disabilities and students with documented learning gaps.

WMC provides ancillary services (Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Evaluation Services…) to qualifying students.

ESS Questions?


WMC is now home to students who have attended kindergarten through 6th-grade in the MCS Spanish Immersion program.

Soon WMC will welcome students from the growing SI programs at both GHC and FCS. Students can continue their language studies at WMC in full immersion classes in Bible, Spanish Language Arts, and upper levels of Spanish and graduate from WMC with their college language requirements.

To be eligible to attend the SI program at WMC, students must start in the language immersion program in Kindergarten. Three of our four WMC feeders schools offer Spanish Immersion programs including, Grand Haven Christian, Muskegon Christian, and Fremont Christian.

SI Questions?

This blog post was part of the WMCS Faith Matter’s Fall 2019 Newsletter. To download a PDF copy of the newsletter CLICK HERE.

West Michigan Christian Schools Announces New Community Based Instruction Partnerships for HS Students

ESS UPDATE: New CBI Opportunities in Grand Haven

West Michigan Christian School’s Educational Support Services (ESS) team is excited to announce new Community-Based Instruction (CBI) partnerships for our high school students at two local Lakeshore businesses.  

Grand Haven-based Lake Effect Kitchen and Chow Hound Pet Supplies are providing opportunities for CBI for Western Michigan Christian High School (WMC) students with diverse learning needs. Juniors and Seniors on the Certificate of Completion track at WMC, now have the opportunity to learn more about their God-given strengths and gifts in the workplace, which serves to prepare students for potential employment post-high school.

Photo caption: Sawyer Arkema, a New Era Christian School graduate and currently a Junior at WMC, enjoys cooking and loves animals. The WMC ESS team sought out workplaces that could utilize those gifts and passions.

“These Community Based Instruction opportunities allow our students invaluable and inclusive vocational opportunities. I am proud to share that we currently have the ability and resources to bring these opportunities to our students. This helps build on the vision of WMCS, which is to support whole-families by allowing students of all learning needs the opportunity to be a part of the WMCS family, no matter their individual ability,” shares Whitney Jackson, WMCS Director of Educational Support Services and CBI co-project head.

After conducting student “interest inventories,” the WMCS ESS team determines each child’s areas of interests, gifts, and passions. The ESS team then seeks out workplaces that could utilize those gifts and abilities.

Lake Effect Kitchen is a commercial kitchen located in Grand Haven, Michigan, specializing in take-home meals. They mentor students with disabilities through their CBI program and have recently hired two employees on the autism spectrum. Their vision is to provide authentic community and competitive employment for all.

As part of the CBI program, students participate in serving lunch to students at a local elementary school as well as prepare for lunch at the kitchen using their culinary skills. This helps students strengthen their social skills, as well as, learning skills for working within a kitchen setting.

Chow Hound Pet Supplies stores are located in the greater Grand Rapids area, Holland, Grand Haven, & Portage. As West Michigan’s largest family-owned pet store, students gaining experience at Chow Hound have the opportunity to help with daily cleaning tasks as well as preparing for animals to be groomed.

Once students complete their four years at WMC, students are eligible to continue receiving educational services until they turn twenty-six years old through their residential school district. Families are encouraged to reach out to their zoned districts to learn more about what programs they offer as each district varies.


This article appeared in the WMCS Faith Matters Fall 2018 Newsletter. Download a copy today!

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.