Distance Learning Tales from 2nd Grade
what is online learning?
Our whole nation has been thrown into this unchartered territory of online learning in a short time and it can take on different looks.
It is likely the sound of teachers' voices playing in the background of your houses. It is the time spent learning how to do math in a completely different way (which may seem absolutely ridiculous to you at times). It looks like teachers trying to learn how to use new apps and technology they said they would never touch. It looks like many tears shed by both children and adults at times. It is the daily argument of, “That isn’t how my teacher does it!”
But, it can also look like quality educational time you've never had before with your child. It can unleash creativity you never thought you had oozing out as you try to keep your children entertained and growing. It can look like taking the work at their own pace giving student and parent the opportunity to learn alongside each other. It will likely look like a big growth step in independence for your child. Here at SJCS we dove in deep and are learning how to support your child’s whole body education from afar even though we would all love them to be in our arms in our classrooms.
A Big Shout Out
I want to give a huge shout out to all you parents who are learning alongside us. Thank you for the encouragement, patience, and funny stories. Thank you for showing appreciation for what we do, day in and day out, and acknowledging the time and effort we are putting into this new way of learning. It may seem small, but it keeps us going and gives us purpose when many of us feel lost, defeated, and exhausted. This distance learning is a community effort. We couldn’t do it without you all. Thank you for the extra patience and energy you are now giving on top of your other responsibilities.
I wanted to share a few of my favorite moments so far. I’ve loved listening to the videos of my students sharing encouraging Bible verses and lyrical raps just because they can. Hearing them sing along with me to a video they can’t even hear as I still learn how to use Zoom still has me laughing out loud. Students are reaching out to each other and sharing kindness in so many ways. The way they enthusiastically share their “show and tell”, or go above and beyond what I ask of them for each of their assignments has warmed this teacher's heart. I crave those 1 on 1 moments when I get to hear how they are really feeling and share our excitement over our science projects where we learn about how mealworms change into beetles.
Another favorite moment is when students created their own "Unthinkable" from Social Thinking. They had to find a monster in their brain who is getting them down or causing them to have a fixed mindset. This is what we call an "Unthinkable". They were then tasked to make a “Thinkable” to fight the "Unthinkable"! Some students have made videos while others have uploaded their sketches (pictured in this blog).
Virtual Classroom Tools
My FAVORITE tools have been the “Explain Everything” app as well as the Google Classroom app. My students actually taught me a few things on how to use Explain Everything (an app that allows you to make slides and record your voice over them) and it has been a lifesaver in sharing lessons. I never thought I would ever use Google Classroom, but here I am now relying on it for structure and organization. The Zoom conference app has also been a game changer, and I am so thankful for the technology. However, I will add I am still working on my attitude towards it because it doesn’t replace the face-to-face interaction I love so much.
It was a shaky start for us all. There has been a lot of frustration and fear that took over, but here we are, getting the hang of this! Parents, keep up the grace, feedback, patience, and encouragement. Know that we are thinking of you by the hour and praying for your families. We are here doing our very best. We love you and promise to take your kids back as soon as we can. We are in this together and that is what I love the most!
Keep sharing your stories!
In The Spot Light - Mrs. Vicky Hanquist and Experiencing God Through Visual Art
“Art is my passion! When I create, I experience the presence of God. It’s contagious when we express the passion God has given us. The ability to create Art is a gift God has given me. As a designer, I have visions on how to bring a space to life. I saw hot air balloons to define the entry area in room 16. The elementary art students brought this vision to life. They did it!”
Installing the Grades 1-4 hot air balloons in Room 16 has brought a lot of energy and excitement to campus tours. The students worked very hard, had fun making the project, and felt great pride in the end result. This 3D project required teamwork, persistence, and creative thinking--all important Habits of Mind! After the project completion each student prepared and presented verbally to express what they learned and what God taught them in the process. Students spoke of the patience, teamwork, and the time commitment required to create something. They also spoke of the end result that brings joy. Mrs. Hanquist noted that God was in the entire process--the colors, student choices, and the amazing outcome. Check out Room 16 to see these projects and many more on analogous and complementary colors, movement studies, and master artists.
In The Spot Light - Miss Bost and Miss Armenta
Watch Our Butterflies Grow and Explore!
“Everything is new to our kids. Each day is an adventure!” Butterfly teacher Allie Bost shared. The Butterflies explore God’s world in both structured and unstructured play. “These little ones are able to transition from the baby room and thrive in a new environment. Kids can do and understand more than we think!” Catalina Armenta teaches with Allie and shared how much she enjoys working in the San Jose Christian Preschool. This week’s lesson was on community jobs such as doctors. The little ones loved learning new words like stethoscope and sharing about their own experiences. It is easy to see that the loving, kind leadership in the Butterfly room blesses students, parents, and SJCS faculty in countless ways. Thanks to the new playground we hear daily laughter, play, and learning from our little Tigers.
In The Spot Light - Mrs. Phillips
Every person in this educational institution contributes to the whole. Every piece is connected and every piece matters. This week we celebrate our Director of Community Development and Director of Admissions, Betsy Phillips.
Mrs. Phillips loves building community, connecting people, and talking about SJCS to new families! “When you really connect the value of education at SJCS to the benefits for children and families, I cannot imagine how a family would choose something different than what we offer. Not only are we intentional in the classroom, but also in every event and activity. The biggest distinctive we have is our partnership of school, home, and church. I think this approach is so unique in our valley. When people really understand that partnership, it can help their children thrive.”
Betsy and the office team engage the SJCS mission. They are intentional about displaying a love for God, a desire to learn and a commitment to serve. Their effective processes point to engagement with all the different members of our community. They support our teachers so that together our staff can effectively raise up kids to transform His kingdom. Betsy overflows with joy as she shares, “Because I believe in our mission statement with my whole heart, it is easy for me to share our story and build events, tours, and community connection points in support of that mission.”
Middle School J Term
From January 16-19, our student body, 5th - 8th grade, enjoyed a new experience called J-Term. J-Term is short for January Term: a short, condensed and focused time of learning in one specific topic area. Continue reading to see the amazing impact J-Term had on our students, school community and wider church communities. Our nine SJCS Throughlines wove throughout these electives in beautiful ways.
During PROJECT SERVE, a group of willing students spent four days sharing their time and talent at multiple locations that included House of Hope, Cityteam, Palo Alto Christian Reformed Church and SJCS. Our eyes were opened to see how community comes together to encourage and support members in our community who are in need. (Led by Mrs. Thompson & Mrs. Singh)
“I liked that we were helping others.” H.S.
“I enjoyed working at City Team the most.” C.B.
“We got to help the community.” S.V.
BUSINESS MARKETING students explored what it takes to run a small business through topics such as branding, marketing, and the social media opportunity. (Led by Mrs. Medeiros & Mrs. Hendricks)
“J-term gave me different tips and tricks to help a business succeed exponentially.” M.S.
“Business marketing can be used in real life as I hope to plan a successful business soon.” R.A.
“I find it really enjoyable to create and design things.” N.P.
HIKING ADVENTURES AND WILDERNESS WANDERINGS brought 12 students to local hiking trails such as Quicksilver & Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch. During the 3-4.5 mile hikes, students explored nature metaphors from the Bible and literature, grew in community, and practiced basic survival skills. (Led by Mr. DenOuden and Mrs. Baham)
“I loved the fresh air and trail discussions.” H.J.
“I learned more about the other students in my group.” Camille S. “I loved being able to learn and grow as a community, not just in a classroom, but in nature.” A.S.
ROBO-CODING (Robotics & Coding) students enjoyed building, programming, and flying drones while discussing the present and future impact of the drone industry. (Led by Robo-Robo Company & Mrs. Coetsee)
“I enjoyed my unusually high speed drone.” M.K.
“Each day there was something fun to do.” C.S.
“Students had time to be creative and pursue their interests in robotics and coding.” Mrs. Coetsee
READERS’ THEATRE prepared students to perform in small groups. During the week, students also learned performance techniques, costume making and make-up design. (Led by Mrs. Truong)
“It was nice to try something new and extra-curricular during school hours.” E.P.
“It was fun hanging out with people in different grades than me because it got me to connect and become closer friends with them.” M.S.
“Even though I have done sewing before, I got to try something new when we made our costumes.” A.H.
Students used their gift of teaching to bless younger students on campus as they took “A WALK TO THE LITTLE SIDE.” Students designed centers and activities for our preschool and JK classes (Led by Mrs. Nibbelink)
“I enjoyed playing with the little kids.” G.L. and C.F.
“It made me feel like I was a little kid again myself.” M.L.
“I think it would have been more fun if we could have been the teacher for a whole day!” M.S.
MAKE AND TAKE POTTERY CLASS students learned the basic techniques for working with clay in an advanced art studio course. Over the week, students completed multiple projects which were glazed before being returned to them. (Led by Ms. Webb)
“We got to make plates and paint them from scratch.” J.S.
“Pottery was lots of fun, and I enjoyed making things with my friends.” C.B.
“I really liked making a bowl for my cat.” B.L.
Americans’ top three New Year’s resolutions circle around fitness: stay fit and healthy (37%), lose weight (32%), and enjoy life to the fullest (28%). Part of our calling as God’s people includes caring for the “temple” God gifted us in our physical bodies. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Two SJCS teachers and two SJCS parents recently focused on what it means to be a healthy person.
Jackie DenOuden invited SJCS parent and pediatrician, Dr. Charles Owyang, to talk to her class about the circulatory system. He shared some great health visuals to which one insightful 3rd grader queried, ““If I eat more carrots can I have more screen time?”
Middle school science teacher, Melissa Truong, led both 7th and 8th graders through a simulated engineering internship. Students studied body systems, energy, and cellular respiration. Then student pairs created nutrition bars for a post disaster emergency site. SJCS parent Michelle Kunde supported the creations with her knowledge of nutrition and cooking experience. Complex considerations included metabolism, varying needs (workers needed more carbs but the victims needed more protein), cost considerations, and taste. Mrs. Truong shared, “I was most impressed by the reactions the seventh graders had to their bars that didn't taste good. It's where this simulation came to life.” After the simulation Mrs. Truong led students to reflect on the awe and wonder of God in His design. “How can you see evidence of God's creation through the design of our metabolism?" Naomi responded, “God made each of the trillions of the cells in our body. Everything serves such a specific purpose, how elsecould anything have been created by anything/anyone BUT the one and only God? Each cell has a purpose and knows exactly what to do.” Calleigh wrote, “I think that God absolutely is incredible with how he put so much detail in everything around me, and inside me. I really enjoyed learning about cells, because at the same time we really were also learning about God's great creation. I always thought that I just had an average body ya know, but then this year we learned more and more about our bodies and how intricate God made us! I honestly can't wrap my head around how creative God really is. I really want to learn more about this, I am very curious.”
New Year’s Resolution: Wise Decision-Makers
Janelle Hendricks frames her weekly K-5 computer lessons around three SJCS Throughlines: Wise Decision Makers, Efective Communicators, and Collaborative Workers. A recent Common Sense Media unit called “The Power of Words” explored these Throughlines on the topic of cyber-bullying. The unit opened with a simulation called “Across the Line” where students had to decide if a line of text was harmless or harmful communication. Each student had to physically decide whether or not to “cross the line” taped on the floor.
Cyber-bullying happens both intentionally and unintentionally. Through this unit Mrs. Hendricks set goals for students to identify cyber-bullying, grow an internal compass for wise-decision-making in their own cyberworld communication, and gain solutions to respond to possible cyber-bullying. Because written text carries no tone of voice or facial expression, cyberworld text requires a particular etiquette. One solution students learned in this unit was STOP: Step away; Tell a trusted adult; Okay sites with parents first; Pause and think online.
What can parents do? Regularly check your student’s accounts including sent mail and browsing history. Keep a current list of your student’s passwords for all accounts. Consider the screen time for members of your family. If you have not already done so, talk through and create a family media agreement and device contract. There are great resources available for parents such as Fuller Youth Institute, Dr. Powell’s Sticky Faith guide, and Circle parental controls (used by many of our SJCS teachers and parents).
As we teach, train and guide our young people to live in this beautiful, broken world, let’s be intentional on the power of our words both of and on line. How might our wise decision-making advance God’s kingdom as we engage and transform culture for Jesus Christ?
The Gift of Babies: Meet our Littlest Tigers
Let’s celebrate the gift of babies at SJCS! Infant Center Lead Teacher, Tammy Reulman, glows as she talks about SJCS and the Infant Center. “We have the best job ever. Our teaching happens throughout the day as we change diapers, sing songs, play, and teach about God’s love. Kids know more than you think they do! We focus on God as the Creator and the Golden Rule. Our program is amazing because of the teamwork of our staf. We really work together to give excellent care.” Tammy and her team focus on Psalm 139, Proverbs 22:6, Matthew 28:18-19, Luke 2:30, and Matthew 19:14 to frame their work each day.
Charieah Kephart-Ford enjoys working with babies because each day is diferent. “You never know what adventure you will be on. It is so fun to watch them grow and teach them about the love of the Lord every day.” Monette Dawson delights in watching babies develop into toddlers.”It also gives my heart so much joy to see the sparkle in their eyes as we sing songs about God and Jesus. I love being able to share the word of God with the babies.” Priscilla Ku admires the amazing mental, physical, and verbal growth of each child. “What amazes me even more is that God, the heavenly Creator, wonderfully and fearfully makes each child. The babies are a joy to be around every day.” Melinda Sanchez is so thankful to be a part of the ICC Team. “Our room is a joyful, noisy, busy room with never a dull moment. Working at SJCS has been such a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful to have such a wonderful job where I can love and care for our littlest Tigers.”
Thank you, Infant Center Team, for living God’s love, peace, hope, and joy with our babies!
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Teachers Arlet Veurink and Michelle Nibbelink believe in small changes that make a life-time impact. Over the past year they have lead students, parents and SJCS teachers through simulations to promote empathy for learning diferences. “We all learn, but we all learn diferently” shared Miss Veurink. Experiencing the various simulations gives perspective and promotes empathy. Students and teachers who complete the simulations discover new empathy, patience, and teamwork. Take a minute to try some of the "Understanding Your Child" simulations.
Another way to gain perspective is to put oneself in another’s shoes. Consider a task that is very difcult for you to do--maybe giving a public speech, catching spiders or driving in bumper to bumper trafc. What would it be like to complete that task every waking moment? For some students, school work feels that way. One parent realized, “I keep asking my child to try harder, but I realize that she has been trying hard all day.”
As our community gains understanding of learning diferences, we will gain empathy. Consider the lifetime impact of enjoying friends, teachers, and parents who show compassion for a child’s learning diferences. Little by little the atmosphere shifts. Over time, students are able to hold a loving self-image as well as a loving view of others, despite their diferences. We become a community who builds one another up as we focus on each other’s strengths. We demonstrate empathy when working through weaknesses. We consider others’ needs and willingly serve them. We heal brokenness and bring joy. SJCS is committed to helping students discover that God created each of of us as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
Connecting Through Books, Connecting Our Storie
God created SJCS Librarian, Nicole Nesdahl, a connector. “I’m a connector. I love connecting students to books, each other, and God.” Elementary library classes begin with meaningful rituals: a squirt of hand sanitizer, student-led prayer, and candle-lighting. “We light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence. The light reminds us that God is with us and sets the tone for sharing our stories together.” As Mrs. Nesdahl reads books to her students she connects their lives to the story. Questions like “Is there such a thing as good luck?” or “Who can explain what a lightning bug looks like?” give students a chance to get into the text while sharing their own experiences.
This year Mrs. Nesdahl initiated new library opportunities for students and
teachers. Many students entered the bookmark contest. Four winners (Joey, Elizabeth, Sofia S, and Lauren S) will have their Micah 6:8 bookmark creations published for SJCS library visitors to enjoy. Middle school students applied for a new library interns position. Nine participants now meet twice a month to train on library procedures and connect with each other over books. Mrs. Nesdahl chose 1 TImothy 4:12 as the library intern theme verse. “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in life, in love, and in purity.” She sees the entire process of interviewing, working side by side, and growing in Christian community as part of the library’s mission to form wise decision-makers and engaged citizens. Over the summer Mrs. Nesdahl and many volunteers automated over 4,000 titles to a new library book checkout app. In addition, Mrs. Nesdahl started library cart support for teachers where she gathers books on particular topics for teachers to use as classroom resources. Take a moment to stop in the library, meet Mrs. Nesdahl, and thank her for the many ways she is leading our school in a love for God, desire to learn, and commitment to serve.
SJCS Middle School Extra-Curricular Highlight: What Makes Our Middle School Stand Out?
On Saturday, October 28, our Tigers celebrated big as the Tiger football team took the league championship. And the night before playo s, our middle school drama department presented a delightful rendition of The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood by Mary Lynn Dobson. Both Mr. Bost (SJCS Athletic Director and Tiger Football Coach) and Ms. Laverman (Middle School Drama Director and Fourth Grade Teacher) find their greatest joy in seeing students develop their gifts and grow in confidence.
Mr. Bost said with a smile, “I love being around the kids. I love seeing them grow as athletes but also as young men. The students start in 5th Grade saying ‘I can’t do this’ and finish as 8th grade leaders on the field. Often students enter middle school with no experience in a given sport. I get to watch them excel as they interact with each other and work for a common goal.They will take what they learn in sports into the rest of their lives.” One of our 8th grade students, Ethan A., participated in both football and the play. ”It was a crazy weekend to say the least. Friday we had two play performances and I have to say that the evening performance was flawless. Then, not even 12 hours later, I was a contributor on the football championship team. I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to do both the play and to be a part of the football team that made SJCS history."
Both events showcased students who discovered talents and growth opportunities as a result of our “no cut” policy. Eighth grade student Mary shared, “If there were cuts in the drama tryouts, I may have not even done the play. But instead, I have done it all three years of middle school. I would never have realized how much I loved acting and chosen to participate in it. The highlight of the play this year was when half the cast was crammed backstage and we were all smiling anticipating our next cue. All our nerves were gone and we were all just filled with happiness because of the fun we were having.” Natalie, another 8th grade actress, would tell future middle schoolers, “ Don't wait to try the drama performance. Go for it! You'll learn so many things, you'll love it, and you can find that inner dramatic character in yourself.” Meredith added, “It's nice to have a judge-free environment to practice lines and get used to being an actor!”
Ms. Laverman believes in accepting all students who want to participate in the play whether on stage or backstage. “Being involved in drama lends itself to lifetime skills such as public speaking, working with peers, being comfortable in your own skin, and encouraging each other. When students don’t support each other it shows up on stage. We have to fit together and work together to be in sync.” Mr. Bost adds his support of our “no-cut” policy in sports. “Giving all students a chance to participate is important because middle school is a time that kids should try anything if they have an interest in it. You never know what
it could lead to. We want to foster in them that they have the freedom and ability to try things and see where God has gifted them. Being part of a team is important for everybody.
“Our students see professional sports on TV and come into a sport thinking that being an athlete is all about promoting self. But in our athletic program we focus on being a good teammate and knowing your role whether or not you are on the field. Throughout the championship game the players on the sidelines knew their goal was to encourage and support the players on the field. I love this picture of our team working toward a common goal, even from the sideline.”
Grades Do NOT Define Me
When you think back to the last time you received a “grade” for something, can you also remember how you felt inside? Do the words “report card” send a jolt of fear into your body?
Teachers use assessments to find out what a student understands, and to determine how well we as teachers might (or might not have) communicated concepts. Unfortunately, many times “getting a grade” turns into false determination of one’s talent or worth. Instead of seeing the grade as a measure of what I learned and what I have yet to learn, the grade sends a message of “You are acceptable” or “You are not good enough.”
Mrs. Nibbelink and Ms. Webb led the fifth graders through a novel unit on There’s a Boy In The Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar. As the story of a fifth grade bully unfolds, readers come to see the importance of looking “underneath” another’s exterior to find the true person inside. Through the guidance of a counselor, a “bully” transforms his belief that he is a worthless monster to the belief that he is a kind boy with a good heart. Ms. Webb explains, “This story provides an inside look at the thought life of a struggling student and guides our fifth graders toward empathy for others and healthy self-talk.”
After reading the book, the 5th grade teachers led their students through three key activities. First, the 5th graders wrote reflections about their experience and perspective on grades. Next they created drawings of monsters with kind hearts. And finally, the teachers brought their students to the playground to drive home the themes in the book. Outside, each student was given a physical challenge. Some were asked to hang on the bar for 3 seconds, or do 5 jumping jacks. Others were asked to fly to the top of the flagpole or hop from one tree to another. Some challenges were clearly impossible. Afterward, students were assigned a letter grade. Students who accomplished the challenge were marked with an “A”, and students who did not complete the impossible challenges were marked with an “F”. Confusion and antagonism erupted. Students declared, "This isn't fair!”
Mrs. Nibbelink and Ms. Webb followed the physical challenge activity with an in-class discussion about grades and their purpose in school. They drove home the point that a grade is not meant to define us (just as not being able to fly to the top of flagpole could not make you a failure). They shared that a grade measures how much you have learned or haven't learned...yet. And they pointed out that our families, teachers, and even Kindergarten buddies love us as much as ever no matter what “grade” is assigned in school. “At the end of the day, we want our fifth graders to know we love them exactly the same no matter what grades are at the top of their papers. We don’t view students as ‘A, C, or F students,’ we see them as dearly loved children of God.” Ms. Webb said.
SJCS Throughlines include the standard of raising up “growing believers who live secure in their identity in Christ.” We continue to work as a school to teach our children that we are God’s Beloved sons and daughters.
God Made The World, and God Made Me!
Walking into the Grasshopper room felt like a downpour of Living Water into my “love bucket”. The love and joy of these little ones reflects the loving atmosphere of Miss Blenda and Miss Sharokeena’s classroom. When I walked in, five children circled around me with smiles and curiosity, and books in hand. “Let’s read this one!” they exclaimed. The foundation of this classroom rests on basic truths of our faith: God made the world. God made each one of us. God has a plan. God wants me to be safe. God wants me to grow. Miss Blenda and Miss Sharokeena teach these beautiful truths through the study of what God has made--seasons, senses, and relationships. Even at this young age, SJCS students begin to understand how to be effective communicators, wise decision-makers, and humble servants. (For more information on filling someone’s love bucket, check out the book the Grasshoppers talk about together called How Full Is Your Bucket?)
HOSPITALITY: Welcoming both the friend and the stranger
Growing up in the Midwest taught me that hospitality is cleaning your house for company and preparing enough food for everyone to have seconds, thirds, and leftovers. Upon closer inspection, hospitality is so much more, and it offers rich implications for us as God’s people. One of our SJCS Throughlines reads: Healthy People hold a loving self-image as well as a loving view of others, both the friend and the stranger:
In a classroom, hospitality includes smiling at students when they arrive and looking them in the eye as we greet them. Mr. Hoksbergen uses music to establish hospitality in his classroom where students are welcome, and relationship with each other matters. Classroom hospitality can also mean welcoming strangers with open minds and hearts. Mrs. DenOuden modeled this the first week of school as she introduced her class to a new textbook. Students explored the book and opened their minds and hearts to the relationship they would have with it as they studied math together. Mrs. DenOuden wove important topics into their exploration such as learning styles, teamwork, and critical thinking skills.
Last week the 8th Graders considered the implications of what it means to show hospitality to the other middle school students. As leaders on campus, 8th graders can set the tone of holding a loving view of others, both the friend and the stranger. Be sure to ask our 8th graders about #SouthernHospitality!
Focus On The Can Rather Than The Can't
As school wrapped up last year and the SJCS staff saw summer break on the horizon, Mrs. Thompson looked ahead to this school year. She decided to give each staff member a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck with an invitation to read the book over the summer. Mrs. Thompson had read the book before, and knew it would affect teachers in personal and professional ways. “I want our teachers and students to focus on the can rather than the can’t. Rather that saying ‘I don’t know it’, we can say ‘I don’t know it YET.’”
Mrs. Thompson’s hopes that teachers would be on the same page about approaching setbacks and difculties are already bearing fruit. Miss Veurink commented that “Reading Mindset helped me identify my own mindset. And it has changed the verbiage I use with my students. Our “superpower word” for the year is YET. We use a ladder in my classroom to help us identify our mindset.” JK Teacher Suzie Van Ewyk shared, “When I read the book I realized that I live some areas of my life with a fixed mindset, and others with a growth mindset. I looked at the areas I approach with a growth mindset and started applying a growth mindset to other areas of my life.” Second Grade teacher Lynn Hossink discovered both personal and professional applications. “Growing up I was quiet and shy and thought success was other people validating me. Now I see that I need to challenge myself to learn and grow, and see areas that need growth as a good thing.” Dweck wrote that ‘Our best gift as educators and parents is to teach our children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy efort, seek new strategies, and keep on learning.’ It made me think about my classroom culture. When I am disciplining students, what message do I want to send: ‘I will judge and punish you?’ Or, ‘I want to help you think and learn.’
The middle school teachers decided to start our year with a middle school mixer around the topic of mindset. You can check it out on Mrs. Baham’s blog. We already see the impact of Mrs. Thompson’s leadership on growth mindset, and we look forward to the future impact this will have as we live this year together.
2016-2017 Teacher of the Year
As you enter Miss Hossink’s Grade 2 classroom you will see a huge display above her cupboards with the words “IN OUR CLASSROOM WE...” surrounded by amazing things like “do love”, “listen”, “make mistakes”, “never give up”, “think first”, “include everyone” and the list goes on. Miss Hossink is fifth in line as the proud recipient of the “Karen Wynbeek Award”. This “teacher of the year” award began the year Mrs. Wynbeek retired. Each year the administration chooses one teacher to receive the award.
Miss Hossink faced a big decision in her final years as an elementary
education major at Calvin College. She came to a point where she was
not sure she wanted to teach. She had no idea what she should do with
her life. God providentially provided her with a small Christian school for
her second student teaching placement. Through that school, God brought
multiple people into her life who mentioned San Jose Christian School. Miss
Hossink felt that it was God Himself whispering this school into her ear. After talking with Mr. I in an interview, God’s plan was clear to her. Miss Hossink moved to San Jose with the belief that our school was the answer to her many prayers of “God, show me a path you have for me.” During her three years at SJCS thus far, she continues to pray for God’s direction. God continues to confirm her call to be at our school through students, parents, and experiences. She sees her job at SJCS as a story of God’s faithfulness to her!
Miss Hossink turned a di cult time in her late college experience into a growth opportunity. She faced her setbacks with courage and determination. Now, years later, Miss Hossink’s favorite part of being a teacher is enjoying the chance to build her own classroom community. She loves the energy of her students, and is grateful for the energy they bring out in her. She feels that she learns from her students, and grows in faith because of her relationships with them. She admits to using some “teacher tricks”. She did not reveal all of her secrets, but did admit to some classroom management strategies involving counting down from three, the “teacher look”, and the power of a whisper!
Fellow teacher and mentor Mrs. DenOuden noted that she has watched Miss Hossink “step up as a teacher leader”. Another colleague, Mrs. VanEwyk, shared that “Miss Hossink is one of those unique teachers and individuals that grabs your attention in the first twenty seconds and leaves you spellbound by her cleverness and quick mind. I've always marveled at how she can spin a simple lesson into a character building activity. Lynn is an exceptional teacher, her students always know they are loved and respected.” Fellow teacher and friend, Miss Laverman, added that “Miss Hossink has such an energetic presence and her students can't help but to catch that same excitement for learning. Her love for her students and for God shines through and is reflected in her instruction. She is truly an example of Christ's love in our SJCS community.”
Philippians 4:6 is a life verse for Miss Hossink. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Teacher Tales - Spotlight on Jr. Kindergarten
What do you spend your time on?
As teachers or parents, it is easy to find ourselves focused on the negative. Bad choices, inappropriate behavior, unkindness—these things obviously require attention and take time to correct. However, if that’s all we focus on with our students, what message does that send to them about what’s important?
Simply put, we spend our time on what’s important to us. And children notice. If children only get time and attention from an adult after they misbehave, that will be how they seek attention.
Mrs. VanEwyk practices several techniques for correcting this problem and focusing instead on the positives.
Students in Junior Kindergarten have sharing time every Friday (usually based on the letter of the week; kids bring a toy, a cherished possession, etc.). Recently, instead of bringing in an object to share, students were asked to provide five examples of how they showed kindness during the week.
One by one, students stood up and shared how they showed love or spoke life to someone at home or at school. During this time, students described more than 100 acts of kindness, and the excitement was palpable. Students received a rmation and attention for the love they shared, not for misbehavior or a tantrum.
Mrs. VanEwyk’s class also regularly practices what she calls external a rmation time. Every day, one student stands up after recess (name picked out of a jar) and classmates say something great about her (or him). The recipient of the a rmation gets to hear the positive character traits that the class appreciates.
These intentional times of focusing on the positives have had a wonderful e ect on the JK classroom. Students know that kindness and love are the keys to receiving attention, and they rise to the occasion.
How else can we focus on the positives this week?
The Super Seven
Interpersonal struggles are a part of life, and at SJCS we strive to provide students with the ability to work out minor di erences without adults always having to “solve” the problem. These skills will be invaluable as students progress in school, grow older, and enter the workforce.
In third grade, the girls recently brainstormed about ways they can work and play together productively, and here are the “Super 7” ways they came up with:
- Include Others--always invite others to play. If you don't want to play, say "Thanks but I'm going to pass this time."
- Speak Life--Encourage others, be "bucket fillers," and if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all.
- Speak Reconciliation--Don't leave school angry. Seek out a teacher on yard duty for recess issues. The homeroom teacher is here to help too, but coming in from recess is not a an optimal time to work through an issue related to just a few students. A better time to talk things through would be before they go out for the next recess break.
- Help Not Hurt--use our words and actions to speak life into people, not to tear people down.
- Work Together--in partners/teamwork activities remember to show kindness to those around you. God teaches us through Ephesians that "Teamwork works best."
- Have Positive Attitudes--Things might not always go your way, but you can make the choice to stay positive and enjoy the game your friend picks to play.
- Always Apologize For Accidents--If something happened that was an accident, make sure the person knows it was an accident, help them up, and make sure they get the care they need.
This list could just as easily apply at any grade level! Sometimes the spring has a way of stirring things up in schools, and it’s always great to have a plan for how to handle things when disagreements occur. Thanks, third grade!
Many of you know that Justin DenOuden has been fulfilling his student teaching at our school. Justin has worked in both 1st and 3rd grade this year, and he has been a wonderful addition to our faculty.
Brian Van Dyck, Justin's faculty advisor in the CalState Teach program, has been observing Justin's teaching throughout the year. Last week Brian conducted his final observation of the semester, and he came into the office to see Mr. I. Here's what Brian said:
"I am thoroughly impressed with your faculty, and I wanted to take a minute to come and commend them for their professionalism and skill. I have worked with hundreds of schools, and the level of mentorship I have seen here is rarely seen in any school. CalState Teach usually pushes back when a student teacher is placed in a private school, but you are exceeding all of the other schools I worked with this year. Well done!"
Keep up the great work, teachers!
Spotlight on Reading
Last Thursday, March 2, was Read Across America day. This is a day when schools from all over the country commemorate the birthday of Dr. Suess through a celebration of reading. Several classes on our campus joined in the celebration. First grade was blessed with special guest readers throughout the day. Our guest readers included Mr. I, Mrs. Thompson and several first grade parents. They shared their love of reading with the students by reading a favorite book to us. In order to reinforce our knowledge of the literary elements, 4 quilts were placed on the ground. Each quilt represented a literary concept (characters, setting, problem/conflict and solution). After hearing a story each group would determine their literary element. Groups rotated with each guest reader.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience of having a parent, administrator or teacher read a favorite book. Our readers brought their favorite book to share that included several Dr. Suess books, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! By Karen Beaumont, Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey, This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers, to name a few. The students had a difficult time selecting just one favorite book. So, we decided we enjoyed them all! Special thanks to all our guest readers, and keep on reading!
Spotlight on our Dragonfly Class
Miss Monique and Miss Tiffany any have done a wonderful job incorporating faith integration into this month's black history lessons. Each week, students in preschool focus on a theme/ character trait (this week it's music/joy) and memorize a verse that illustrates that theme (Psalm 100:1--Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.). The students then read stories and learn about famous African Americans who exemplify each theme (Ella Fitzgerald; Louis Armstrong).
What a fantastic way of integrating multiple subjects into each lesson! Educational excellence happens every day in our preschool, and we are truly blessed to have such amazing teachers.
Teacher Tales - Spotlight on 6th Grade
Last week, the 6th graders welcomed guest speaker Mrs. Herbert, to their classroom. Mrs. Herbert is a learning style expert and a SJCS parent who has worked with several grade levels on campus. She spoke with us about the Unthinkables- traits that we all have that work against us in our learning and relationships (examples include Brain Eater that distracts the students, Worry Wall works to cause worry, and Energy Hare-y gives students too much energy).
The students were challenged to consider Unthinkables that they might have, and teachers shared their own. We then brainstormed ways to defeat our Unthinkables. The students had great ideas and have been challenged to work to defeat their Unthinkables in the coming weeks. While the Unthinkables are important to recognize in our lives, it also helps us understand that we all struggle with di erent things. It also gives students an opportunity to grow in empathy by a rming and encouraging one another. We are working to recognize that God has created us uniquely, and we are practicing seeing God’s workmanship in each other.
Throughline: Effective Communicators- Build others up and demonstrate empathy
Spotlight on E3 Students
We are thrilled that we are again hosting our dear friends from E3 School in Korea. This year, we have the most students we have ever had — 16! In previous years, we have had SJCS families host a dinner or plan an activity (like a trip to the park) for some or all of the Korean students. If you would like to coordinate something like that, please contact Mr. I.
The past three years have been a great source of cultural learning and fun for our students, and I am confident that this year will be another fantastic experience for everyone. The following students are joining us for 3 weeks (until January 23rd), so be sure to welcome them when you see them!
1) Eric (2nd)
2) Daniel (2nd)
3) Joseph (2nd)
4) Sarah (3rd)
5) Isaac (3rd)
6) Anna (3rd)
7) Claire (4th)
8) Grace (4th)
9) Eileen (4th)
10) Stella (4th)
11) Eddie (5th)
12) Jenny (5th)
13) Angie (5th)
14) Sarah (5th)
15) Bella (6th)
16) Sandra (6th)
What a joy it is to share our beloved school community with our international friends!
Spotlight on Service
A Love for God. A Desire to Learn. A Commitment to Serve—Our tagline gives a good summary of why SJCS exists. This week, I’d like to focus on service.
Each year, we participate as a school in many service projects. Our whole-school project in November supporting City Team was a huge success! We were once again the largest single contributor to City Team, and we received a plaque thanking us for our years of contributions.
We have now entered the season of class-level service. Each winter, every class participates in a service project, usually around Christmas. Here are just a few of the many ways our students have been living out our mission and serving Christ and their neighbors this month:
• 5th-8th graders participated in Operation Christmas Child, packing over 70 boxes of toys and gifts for children around the world.
• Kindergarteners have been supporting a child through Compassion International. Be sure to ask them about their friend Victor from Uganda!
• 3rd and 8th graders used their buddies time to write notes of encouragement to shut-ins and those in need of Christmas cheer.
• 5th grade will be distributing gift baskets to bless our campus neighbors.
• Library and the book fair raised donations to benefit the San Jose Family Shelter.
• and much more…
Service projects will continue in January and February, and we will again be raising funds as a school for Feed My Starving Children (collecting quarters in March/April). What a blessing it is to serve together!
Spotlight on 3rd Grade Adventures
Many of you may have traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday, but one “student” in the 3rd grade class has us all beat. Flat Stanley has recently been to Belgium, Florida, South Africa, Pennsylvania, Switzerland, Michigan, the Netherlands, Wisconsin, Costa Rica, and more. He even helped put out a forest fire in California!
In Quarter 1, third graders read the book Flat Stanley, and in Quarter 2 they sent their little classmate to all the corners of the globe. Flat Stanley comes back from his exotic adventures with letters and pictures (and sometimes even treats, like the Belgian chocolates he brought to school today!). The students use these letters and photos as opportunities to learn about the geography, landmarks, weather, and customs of areas around the world. They will also be creating a Google Maps project based on Flat Stanley’s adventures.
You can see more pictures of Flat Stanley's travels on Mrs. DenOuden’s class website.
Spotlight On Teacher Observations
One of my favorite times of the school year is Quarter 2, when I get to spend extended amounts of time in each of the classrooms. During this time, I observe each teacher for at least a full period of teaching. This “formal” observation is much more in depth than the typical pop-in observation, and it truly is a joy to watch our teachers in action.
SJCS has exceptional teachers, and we hold those teachers to high standards. We have a guiding document that lists the ideals to which each teacher strives. This is called the “Outstanding SJCS Teacher,” and it includes seven categories of characteristics that we look for in an excellent teacher:
Communication and Collaboration
Planning and Preparation
Instruction and Assessment
The last three of those categories are directly observable in any classroom visit, and they form the bulk of what I evaluate in each Q2 observation. Every teacher receives a written evaluation and meets with me for a debrief afterward. We discuss strengths, potential areas for growth, Throughlines, best practices, and student needs. These conversations are wonderfully productive, and they help ensure that all of our teachers are continually growing in their craft.
If you would like to know more about teacher observations or our Outstanding SJCS Teacher document, I am always happy to share. We pride ourselves on o ering exceptional teaching, and I see that every day. As we continue the Thanksgiving season, be sure to thank a teacher for all they do.
Spotlight On Our Student Teacher
Welcome to Mr. Justin DenOuden!
Mr. DenOuden has joined the first grade class as a student teacher this semester, and we are very excited to have him! Mr. DenOuden is currently pursuing his teacher certification through California State University's CalState TEACH program and will be doing all of his student teaching at San Jose Christian School this school year.
Many of you may have seen Mr. DenOuden around campus as a substitute teacher last year. While he does come to us with several years of teaching experience (he taught high school English in Hungary for two years), this is his first time teaching first grade. Some of you may also know that Mr. DenOuden happens to be the brother-in-law of Mrs. DenOuden in third grade. Some of his hobbies include hiking, backpacking, and baking.
Mr. DenOuden has become an integral part of the classroom during his time with us, working with the students one-on-one, in small groups, and for whole class instruction. He brings an enthusiasm to the classroom every day he is here, and the students are blessed by it! They have also enjoyed his creativity in teaching some fun math games and reading lessons.
Please join me in welcoming Mr. Justin DenOuden to First Grade at SJCS!
Spotlight on Mrs. Baham
Wonderful things are happening in 8th grade Bible! Students have been examining how they spend their time and discussing how our habits afect our lives and thoughts. Conversations have been fruitful and encouraging as students realize that their hearts are shaped by what they do.
Last month, Mrs. Baham and Mr. I had the privilege of speaking at a CSI conference in Michigan about Faith Integration at SJCS. At that conference, Mrs. Baham learned about this practice of performing a “liturgical audit”—reflecting on our practices and habits. This type of reflection can tell us a lot about our priorities, our goals, and our desires. It has gone very well in our 8th grade, and the conversation has been fantastic.
Mrs. Baham has also been invited by CSI to lead a webinar on faith integration and the “liturgical practices” at our school. It is quite an honor, and we are extremely proud of her! You can read more about the 8th grade Bible lesson or many other great things at Mrs. Baham’s blog, jbahambible.blogspot.com.
Have you taken time recently to examine your habits and what they say about your priorities?
Focus on JK
We’ve had a great start to the year as we celebrate our theme of SPEAK LIFE. One teacher who exemplifies encouragement and speaking life to her students is Mrs. Van Ewyk.
As seen at her back to school night presentation, Mrs. Van Ewyk focuses on celebrating the gifts of every student. She spoke with each parent about the strengths they see in their children. Last week, she also had the students draw a self-portrait (be sure to see them in her classroom window) and talked about what makes each of them unique and special.
Junior Kindergarten is a great transition to our “big school.” The class helps students hone the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to be successful in their academic career. This year, we are excited to have more “preschool alumni” in our JK than we ever have before! We are also thrilled to have Mrs. Subity as a full-time aide in our JK class. Mrs. Van Ewyk and Mrs. Subity lead their class with joy, enthusiasm, and kindness.
One parent who attended Mrs. Van Ewyk’s back to school presentation emailed me to “tell on” Mrs. V, saying, “Parent night for JK was OUTSTANDING. I appreciate Suzie’s demeanor, smile, and joy.”
Have you spoken life to your child’s teacher yet?
Teacher of the Year
Last year, Arlet Veurink was named SJCS’ teacher of the year. A core value of our school is Outstanding Teachers, and the Wynbeek Award was established in 2012 to recognize one outstanding teacher per year.
Considerations and criteria for winning the award include the following:
• Embodiment of the school mission and core values
• Excellence in teaching and evidence of student learning
• Integration of Biblical world view
• Contribution to school culture and respect of peers
• Consistency of high performance
• Passion and enthusiasm for Christian education
• Demonstrated leadership and service
Previous recipients of the award were Karen Wynbeek (the inaugural honoree for whom the award was named), Jennifer Baham, Michelle Nibbelink, and Cecilia Coetsee. Ms. Veurink joins this wonderful group of teachers as the fifth honoree.
Ms. Veurink is a model of exceptional teaching. She creates a classroom environment where everyone feels safe and loved. Walking into her classroom is like entering a haven of peace, and students clearly feel that peace. Ms. Veurink cares deeply for every student, and she communicates her love every day. She embodies our school mission and core values, and she is respected by her peers, parents, and students.
Ms. Veurink has a clear passion for Christian education and for inspiring learning in her students and colleagues. She regularly offers learning opportunities to her peers and makes sure that every student, regardless of need, is getting the help that is needed in the classroom.
The Wynbeek Award exists to honor excellence in teaching, and Ms. Veurink displays excellence every day.