1. Tell us about your career journey in education, including how long you’ve been in your current role at Allendale.
My career journey in education began right here in Allendale, 23 years ago. After graduating from Calvin College with a degree in Physical Education, I signed on for my fist job at Allendale Christian School. I taught at ACS for one year, during the 1990-91 school year. I learned a lot about teaching while I was there and very much enjoyed the people I worked with and the community I worked in.
During my year at ACS, I received a call from my sister, who was teaching in southern California at the time. She let me know that there was an opening at her school in elementary and middle school physical education, which I immediately began pursuing – after all, it was southern California. I received the position at Ontario Christian School and, with my younger brother’s help, moved out to California.
While there I met my lovely wife, Karin. She and I moved from California to the island of Guam only three days after our wedding, where I taught elementary physical education at Tamuning Elementary School for two years. From there we moved to Augusta, Georgia for a year then went back to southern California where I taught 7 more years at Ontario Christian Schools.
While there, I completed my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology at Cal State Fullerton. After our move back to Michigan, I was blessed to be hired into the Allendale Public School system in the role of Dean of Students. I worked in that role for a year, at which time our Superintendent, Mrs. Ceglarek asked me to be the Assistant Principal of the Middle School, serving alongside Mr. Thompson. I enjoyed four years in that role before I was given the distinct privilege of being the principal of Oakwood Intermediate School, which I have held for the past five years.
2. What makes you love coming to work each day?
I love coming to work at Oakwood for a myriad of reasons. Building meaningful relationships with our students, helping to create a safe and nurturing environment where all of our students are challenged to grow academically and emotionally, and working side by side with top quality people are just three of the reasons I love coming to work each day.
3. Name something you personally look forward to each school year:
One thing I truly look forward to is seeing our 4th and 5th grade students gain confidence and maturity over their two years in Oakwood.
4. If you had an unlimited financial and/or volunteer reserve, what would you do to improve your educational environment?
If I had the ability, I would turn Oakwood into a traveling educational environment where we could treat our students to hands-on learning experiences, authentic service projects, and a greater understanding of other cultures and places.
5. What was the best part of your summer vacation?
I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with a group of 10 West Michigan educators. While we were there, we led teacher training for 90 Haitian teachers. Their enthusiasm and passion for teaching was often overwhelming. It was an amazing trip!
6. What is your favorite book? (Can be a kid’s book or an adult book)
Just in Case You Ever Wonder, by Max Lucado
7. What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass along to the students in your school?
In everything try your best, love others, and find ways to make a difference.