By guest blogger, Gina Bouwhuis
Wow, what a difference a year makes!
At this time last year we talked to you about the life lessons we learned: patience, perseverance, flexibility, teamwork, and problem solving. Our road was a little bumpy last year, to say the least. This year we continue to apply those life lessons but our journey has been much smoother. I am not saying we haven’t had a few bumps along the way, but we are so much better and have accomplished so much this year. I would like to take a moment now to highlight a few of those accomplishments.
Our school now has a name that you helped research and vote on! We are Divine Providence Academy!
We have been blessed with an amazing leader! Mrs. DeYoung has come to us with a clear vision. Every decision she makes is based on what is best for all kids. She stands by her decisions even if they are unpopular with students, parents, or staff. I admire that about her. She always makes time for you. She could have a million things to do and if you ask her if she has a minute to discuss something, she will, and she always makes you feel like she has all the time in the world to help you figure out what you need. She is a tremendous mentor to her staff. She has guided all of us on how to use, plan, and implement the workshop method. She has chosen tremendous teachers that work countless hours so that you are receiving the best education possible.
Students are all at their just right learning levels. We have 2nd graders almost finished with 3rd grade math. We have 4th graders working in 5th grade math. We have 7th graders working in high school math! We have 8th graders that placed out of their 1st year math class in high school and can go right into geometry.
83% of you are reading at grade level or higher. Many of you are even off the charts! 92% of you are at grade level or above in your science scores! These are huge accomplishments and you should be so proud of all of your hard work. In fact, our growth rates have now reached some of the BEST in the Diocese of Grand Rapids and across the nation.
We have middle school students who wrote amazing persuasive essays. One essay even got our school to overturn the policy on wearing nail polish. Way to go, Celeste Lemieux!
We have a student led newspaper. We have a box top store that raised about $400 in its 1st year. We have collected over 20,000 points for Labels for Education. You have done amazing things this year!
We had Sr. Ann leading us in music and religion. Her passion for teaching these subjects shows. She put together an amazing Advent program and Spring Concert with all 3 campuses. It is such a joy to watch and listen to her band and see the progress they have made in such a short period of time.
We have students and Mrs. Hoogterp leading us in our liturgical music where we have students in the schola leading us in song, hand chimes, and various other instruments.
We had Mrs. Kary, Mrs. Goodno, and Mrs. Cramer who keep us all organized and in line! And believe me, that is no easy task!
We have parents and grandparents that are in our buildings every day volunteering. Whether it is reading with students, giving students spelling tests, doing flashcards, working in the library, planning field day, driving on field trips, volunteering at hot lunch or for recess duty, the list is endless. Our program wouldn’t be the success that it is without your help. So, a huge thank you goes to all of our volunteers.
In my opinion, at the end of the day, the most important part of our school is that we are always with God. It is in everything we do and everywhere we go. An example of this is when the 3rd-5th Graders from Saint Joseph Campus went on their Mackinac Field trip. On the way home they stopped at The Shrine of the Cross. The students were walking around touring the grounds. There was an outside Grotto that several students went into. When I walked in a few minutes later I saw that the students were in line, taking turns kneeling down, and saying a prayer. It brought tears to my eyes. No one was watching and no one told them to go in there and say a prayer. They did this on their own! Their faith is strong even when we are not around to witness it!
I have been in education for over 20 years and I have always felt that St. Joseph School was a great choice for my boys. But we are surrounded by good schools so it has always been just another choice. I don't feel that way anymore. The way that we are teaching and the way that our students are learning are better than any school around this area. There is no other school that can compete with what we are doing at Divine Providence Academy. I now I feel that we are not only a choice, but the BETTER choice.
My son, Erik, said to me one night that, “The kindergarteners are the luckiest because they get to start out learning this way and do you know how far they are going to be by the time they get to 8th grade?” My reply to that was, “I don’t know how far they will be, but I do know that the sky’s the limit!”
You have seen many visitors come to our campuses this year to see how you are learning and how we are teaching. I believe that for whatever reason God chose us, Little Divine Providence Academy of Coopersville Area/Ravenna to help lead and grow Catholic education around the country.
The tradition of our excellent Catholic education is not only alive, but it is thriving! So again I say,
Wow! What a difference a year makes!