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WMCS Teacher Tuesday Q & A with Western Michigan Christian School’s Daniel Garland

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 Daniel Garland of Western Michigan Christian School (7-12th grade)

Western Michigan Christian Junior High and High School

Daniel grew up in the mid-west area of the nation, moving around from state to state with most of his time spent here in Michigan. He graduated from Jenison High School in 2009 and received a degree in special education from Grand Valley State University. He originally went to school for video game design, but God had different plans.  After doing some volunteer work with local schools Dan discovered a love for teaching, which led him to WMC in 2018. Daniel is an ESS (Education Support Services) teacher for grades 7-12, which consists of providing students with extra instructional assistance. This help can range from pulling a student from class to re-teach a lesson, to putting interventions in place to help a student learn more effectively, to assisting and co-teaching in classrooms.

Enjoy getting to know him a bit more!

Q & A with Daniel

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

My favorite teaching moment would have to be with the school’s robotics team at our first competition.  It was a multi-day competition, and this was our first time doing anything like this. Our first day of competing did not go so well.  Our robot had some bugs in the code and didn’t function exactly how we wanted it to. At the end of our first day, the students were down, and some were questioning why we were even there.

WMC Robotics team group photo at competition.

WMC’s Robotics Team at the first FRC Qualifier in 2019 in Kentwood.

We 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.

From this experience, the students learned that failures and mistakes are excellent teaching moments. On day two, we bounced back from our initial first-day mistakes and rocked it out, winning all of our matches! 

On day two, we bounced back from our initial first-day mistakes and rocked it out, winning all of our matches!  In the end, we received an award for being the highest ranking rookie team in that competition. The part I love most about this was how the students turned their moods and behaviors around before we even won the award at the end of the day. They learned a valuable lesson that will stick with them–the award was just the cherry on top.

The part I love most about this was how the students turned their moods and behaviors around before we even won the award at the end of the day.

Robot close-up shot

Our robot was designed to extend up to 8 feet tall and had a forklift type mechanism.

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

I have a weakness for cats and dogs.  I think my cats and dogs are the most adorable animals ever. I may be a little biased though.

Photo of Daniel's black dog and cat snuggling on couch

Daniel’s pets, Ari and Mew, are both a year old, and they are BFFs!

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

The part I love most about my job is helping students realize that they are able to do things that they themselves didn’t realize that they were capable of.

close up photo Daniel Garland and a student

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

The best part about my day is when I get to teach concepts and lessons to students in a different way.  Not every student learns the same way, and I love finding the best way for each student individually.

The best part about my day is when I get to teach concepts and lessons to students in a different way.  Not every student learns the same way, and I love finding the best way for each student individually.

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 speech impediment in the form of a stutter.  I haven’t always viewed it as a positive thing in my life and it has led to some difficult situations.  While going to school for Special Education I realized that having a stutter makes it so I understand what some students go through on a daily basis with a disability or other hardship.  My stutter is not as severe as it once was, but I know at least a little bit of what some students are going through.

While going to school for special education I realized that having a stutter makes it so I understand what some students go through on a daily basis with a disability or other hardship.

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?

Mountain Dew Code Red

As a beloved faculty member, Dan is a very 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 Dan and the amazing Kingdom work he does at WMC.

Dan, 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 Mikaela Deur

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 Mikaela Deur of Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Grand Haven Christian School Store

Mikaela has been teaching Kindergarten at Grand Haven Christian since the fall of 2017. She attended GHC as a student all the way through, from preschool to 8th-grade graduation. After that, she attended  Western Michigan Christian High School and went on to Calvin College for her education degree. “It feels like coming home to be back here,” explains Mikaela. Having her back is a delightful homecoming for her and the GHC staff alike!

It feels like coming home to be back here (at GHC).

 Enjoy getting to know her a bit more!

Q & A with Mikaela

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

One day last winter I was on recess-duty and one of my students ran up to me to hold my hand and walk with me. She looked up at me and said, “Miss D, I always walk next to you at recess because it’s the warmest spot… you know, because love is warmer than everything and you love us so much.”

I’m always overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that comes from kindergartners. I could write a book of all the incredibly sweet and authentic things that these students have said to me. They love so deeply and it’s such a gift to be able to teach them!

I could write a book of all the incredibly sweet and authentic things that these students have said to me. They love so deeply and it’s such a gift to be able to teach them.

Getting ready to sing with GRSC in Carnegie Hall.

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

I actually sing with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus.

Last year I had the amazing privilege of singing on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York with them!

Last year I had the amazing privilege of singing on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York with the Grand Rapids Symphony Choir!3.   What do you love most about your job?

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

There are so many things I could say because kindergarteners might just be the best people in the world! They’re eager and enthusiastic about learning. They’re 100% authentic to themselves. They tell some pretty incredible knock-knock jokes.

But I think what I love most of all is that everything that we do in our classroom can come back to Jesus. Every conversation that we have can be framed around our amazing Savior. It’s a freedom and a privilege that I don’t take for granted to be able to pray, teach the Bible, and talk about Jesus all throughout our day.

I think what I love most of all is that everything that we do in our classroom can come back to Jesus. Every conversation that we have can be framed around our amazing Savior. It’s a freedom and a privilege that I don’t take for granted to be able to pray, teach the Bible, and talk about Jesus all throughout our day.

Celebrating March is Reading Month with favorite book character day in Kindergarten.

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

I love our mornings. I try to make sure every student is greeted by their name and given an uplifting interaction at least twice within the first 10-15 minutes. My students start the day being greeted at the door, then move right into working on their own specific list of sight words. Once they’ve finished this quick activity, everyone gets a high five or a fist bump, and then they get to play with loose parts for a couple of minutes. Almost every student is working on different sight words, so it’s a simple way to differentiate every morning. It also gives me a chance to have a conversation with every student and frame their day for success.

This always leads right into our morning meeting, where my students get to greet their peers, we sing a worship song and pray together. Not to mention, kindergarteners come in with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and so much exciting news to share after 18 hours away from their teacher, so it’s always wonderful for me to hear what is happening in their lives as they come in!

100 days of Kindergarten!

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

I’m pretty much constantly singing, so it was only natural for me to become a kindergarten teacher. We sing about anything and everything. After our morning work and loose parts STEM play, we start every morning with a worship song from there on, our day is packed with songs about finding good fit spots, shapes, counting, days of the week, the weather, letter sounds, Bible stories… you name the topic and I’ve got a song for it!

We start every morning with a worship song from there on, our day is packed with songs about finding good fit spots, shapes, counting, days of the week, the weather, letter sounds, Bible stories… you name the topic and I’ve got a song for it!

Leading with the worship team at her church. When their church building was under renovation they meet in the GHC gym!

6. What’s your specific favorite beverage?

I’ve been known to sip on an iced coffee with cream and vanilla all school day… but I also love Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper.

As a beloved faculty member, Mikaela 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 her and the amazing Kingdom work she does at GHC.

Enjoying a vacation to Gulf Shores, AL with her family.

Mikaela’s sister and brother, Paige Deur and Will Deur.

Mikaela, 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 Amber Bull

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 Amber Bull of Fremont Christian School (PK-8th grade)

Amber Bull joined the Fremont Christian School faculty in 2013. She enjoys teaching all subjects in the 4th grade. Amber and her husband Jacob have a daughter in preschool at FCS who starts in Kindergarten next year and a one-year-old who will join in the future too!  Amber herself is a FCS graduate and she also graduated high from WMC.  She’s a Falcon Warrior!

 Enjoy getting to know her a bit more!

Q & A with Amber

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

Something fun that most people do not know about me is that I play the electric bass guitar. I’ve been playing since high school when I attended Western Michigan Christian High and played in the jazz band, pep band, orchestra pit, and chapels. I continued playing in college on the Calvin College pep band.  Today, I still play the bass for my church worship band, other worship conferences, and for special chapels at our school.  God gave me this talent, and I’m thankful to use it to glorify Him!

 

I still play the bass for my church worship band, other worship conferences, and for special chapels at our school.  God gave me this talent, and I’m thankful to use it to glorify Him!

Mrs. Bull, her 4th grade class and daughter Caroline up front

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

The best part of my day is our 4th-grade morning routine.  We begin each day sharing “Good Things” that happened recently in each student’s life.  Then we turn off the lights, post God’s Word on the projector, and read the Bible together.  So far in 4th grade, we have read the first 50 Psalms, the book of Ruth, and are currently halfway through the book of Luke.  After reading God’s word, we sing praise songs together and pray.  This morning routine is a great way to start our day building friendship and community.  I pray every day that my students learn to love the Lord and each other more and more each day.

We begin each day sharing “Good Things” that happened recently in each student’s life.  Then we turn off the lights, post God’s Word on the projector, and read the Bible together.  So far in 4th grade, we have read the first 50 Psalms, the book of Ruth, and are currently halfway through the book of Luke. 

Amber and her 4th grade class in Spring of 2019 at FCS

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to share learning about God’s world with this group of kids.  I’m grateful for the time dedicated to reading, writing, math, and content areas, but also how I can teach these students how these areas fit into God’s story.  I’m grateful for the support of the parents, and how they express that their student loves going to school and enjoys the 4th grade.  I’m thankful that Fremont Christian School is a place where we glorify God by educating and nurturing students to impact the world for Christ.
I’m grateful for the time dedicated to reading, writing, math, and content areas, but also how I can teach these students how these areas fit into God’s story.

 

Amber and her current 4th grade class in Spring of 2019

 

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

What I look forward to most about Teaching For Transformation (TfT) is incorporating real work, real people, and real need into what we learn in my classroom.  I’ve already started investigating this with my students and noticed engagement and motivation increase.  For example, we were working on our letter writing unit, and I decided to have students choose someone to encourage through their writing.  We would send out real letters to real people and meet the real need of encouraging people and spreading joy. Some students chose community members like the local vet and fire station.  Others chose people further away like authors they enjoy and even the President of the United States.  We were excited to do this act of service, and we even received some letters in return thanking us for the thoughtful notes! Through this project, I saw highly motivated young writers who used what they had learned in class to bless people around them.
What I look forward to most about Teaching For Transformation (TfT) is incorporating real work, real people, and real need into what we learn in my classroom.  I’ve already started investigating this with my students and noticed engagement and motivation increase.
As a beloved faculty member, Amber 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 Alyssa and the amazing Kingdom work she does at FCS.

Jacob, Ivy, Carline and Amber Bull

Amber and her daughter Caroline

Amber, 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.

 

 

Project Based Learning at Muskegon Christian School

MCS’s PBL Provides Authenticity: Students in Real Work, with a Real Need, for a Real Audience

Touring a new family around Muskegon Christian School is one of the best parts Sonya Doty’s job.  

That might surprise you. But throughout their conversation, she gets the opportunity to demonstrate how MCS serves the variety of students whom God sends their way.  “When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education,” explains Doty, Development Director at MCS.   

When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education.



Project Based Learning (PBL) was one innovative teaching tool that MCS incorporated into the curriculum this year.  PBL involves students in real work, with a real need, for a real audience.  Teachers begin by proposing a problem to be addressed. Each project has a checklist of features (a rubric) describing the success criteria, and teachers plan lessons that teach skills and content needed to complete the project.

How does that work in the classroom?  Kari Bonnema’s Kindergarten class was studying a farm animal unit and did some activities one might expect – going to Country Dairy on a field trip and writing/illustrating a short book on a chosen farm animal. But the culmination of this unit was the challenge of Designing a Chicken Coop formed around the question “If Mr. DeKam allowed us to have pet chickens at MCS, what kind of chicken coop would you build?” Kindergarteners worked with their 5th-grade book buddy to design the chicken coop, draw the coops out on big poster papers and answer questions about why they made certain design decisions.  Then they built a model (out of Legos, wooden blocks or Lincoln logs) based on their design and then shared their projects with other students.

As Kari shares, this PBL project was simple but impactful.  “The kids loved it and really got into it, demonstrating that they understood what factors were necessary to raise happy healthy chickens.  One student even wanted to build his designed chicken coop at home!  For real!  With wood!”

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

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

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) together strive to:

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

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