Teaching Staff 2016-17
We are blessed to have a beautiful blend of new and more seasoned teachers at WCS. This teaching team is made up of well-qualified, committed and dedicated, caring Christian teachers who continue to learn and develop professionally. Let me tell you a little about some of the learning that goes on in each classroom.
Marcia Horinga, and Linda Westerveld are our lead teachers for the two kindergarten classes and will be assisted by Yetty Hendriks VanWarby and Marjanne Scheltema. In junior and senior kindergarten there is an emphasis on creativity and discovery through the exploration of Creation…let me give you an example. One of the teachers shared that a
“favourite activity was our fall walk through the woods. We arrived with lunch pails and paper bags for collecting treasures in the woods. After a picnic we explored the pond, looked for toads, fish bugs... Some children volunteered to wear white socks on the outside of their boots and to "collect forest material" while they walked. We tramped through leaves and dirt and marshes and swamps. We explored holes in trees and hanging branches. We all sat quietly and listened to the birds. When we arrived back at the classroom, the children dumped their treasure bags and explored and compared their finds with their classmates’. Those who wore the white......now brown …. socks, took them off. We put them in a clear bag, gave them a misting of water and put them on the sunny window sill to see if anything would sprout. We learned so much that day, from identifying different trees to exploring native animal habitats, to identifying birds and their calls, to climbing trees and poking sticks.....and finally reflecting on the beautiful, incredibly harmonious forest that God holds in His hand.”
Our first grade classes this year will be taught by Kristen VanderPloeg and Erica Schuster. It is somewhat of a tradition in grade one to hatch chicks. Students (and their teachers) delight in studying and documenting what is happening with the eggs and, after they hatch, to learn about life cycles, growth, and development of one type of God’s creatures. Speaking of life cycles, one project they will participate in is the tomatosphere project. The class will plant tomato seeds, some of which – but nobody at WCS knows which - have been in space! Will the space seeds grow as well as the earth bound seeds? Imagine the stories you could tell if you were a seed which travelled to outer space!
Another unit - The Sky Declares - shows how we can see God in the creation He has so beautifully made. The Second Step curriculum provides an excellent platform to talk about how our emotions express what we are feeling inside as well as how we can live in community with those around us.
…And speaking of creation studies, our second grade teacher, Stephanie Kiers, will be studying bees with her students. Did you know that so much of our food supply is dependent on bees? Did you know that many bee colonies are in trouble? – but even in our broken world, we can work at restoring creation. Students will learn about being keepers of creation as Ms Kiers takes them to the experts at Clovermead Apiaries for a field study.
A favourite unit taught by Jannette Hickey in grade three is learning about our historical community. Students find out about their ancestors and what life was like in Ontario many years ago. The highlight is dressing up as pioneers and spending the day as if they were in a pioneer schoolhouse classroom – complete with lunch buckets, slates, no electricity – but they do get to use the regular bathrooms instead of outhouses.
Another highlight is studying the life of Terry Fox and having their first experience participating in the Terry Fox National School Run Day.
Our lead Learning Support Teacher is Tracy Bulthuis, and our part time teacher in this department is Karen Poort. These teachers delight in finding creative ways to support students learning. They partner with community services, communicate with parents and teachers to develop individual education plans… offer support to classroom teachers, screen new students, provide tools and assistive technologies – what a wonderful resource for Woodstock Christian School
Helena Barnes and Janet VanderSpek also work within the Learning Support Program, offering support to various students in the school.
On to grade four with Natalie VanAndel. A highlight here is investigating, researching, and creating reports on birds. Questions are always encouraged. How do birds fly? What makes a bird a bird? Why did the chicken cross the road? Students in grade 4 plan, practice, and perform a Shakespearian play for their parents and schoolmates each year. Drama is never in short supply in this class!
Our librarian, Marion Dieleman, knows everything about books! Marvelous Mondays are always well received by the students. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in the library instead of outdoor recess on a cold February day? Marion is always ready to support classroom teachers with library resources.
One of the first units in grade five science class with Axel Hiemstra is an in-depth study of rocks and minerals. Students will learn about what rocks and minerals are, the rock cycle, and the importance of rocks and minerals in our world today with regards to landscaping, engineering, electronics manufacturing, chemistry, and large-scale construction projects. The grade 5 class will also be involved in several fiction and historical fiction novel studies throughout the year and take part in nine weeks of swimming lessons at Southside Aquatic Centre, which is always a highlight for the kids.
Electricity, designing circuit boards and displaying and explaining them at the school science fair happens with Greg Hiemstra in grade six. Students also get into project based learning, building alien creatures – writing stories about their creatures, and displaying them throughout the school. Greg is also our Vice Principal.
And have I mentioned our music program? Elizabeth Martin welcomes students to music class with a special welcoming song (which some of us have adapted to math class…with limited success). She teaches students how to sing and move and listen, how to play a recorder, sing in a choir and play brass, percussion, and wind instruments in the school band. She leads musicals and drama performances – and is one creative teacher!
In seventh grade with Lesa Racicot, students will examine the WCS Student Character Profile and be intentional and prayerful in setting goals of character development in the three areas of character profile – faith, learning, and community. A novel study that Lesa is excited about is Bifocal written by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters. Some big questions in this unit include: How does God ask us to respond to differences in our daily lives? How do we reconcile our faith and who we include or invite into our community? How do we live out our faith in real ways? Lesa also plans to focus on STEM this year – teaching in science, technology, engineering and math.
We are blessed to have Madame Mariam Beshara teaching French at WCS. She is a fluent French speaker filled with enthusiasm for God, her students, and this year, for using interactive notebooks.
And last, but certainly not least, there is Tony Schaafsma in grade eight. Tony is going to start the year with the Box Project, which the grade eight class will be doing next week. The Driving Question is: What can you make with a box? The goal of the project is to introduce/review the elements of project-based learning. Tony loves the digital classroom and will help students get better acquainted with 21st century skills.