Star Teachers

New Options Elects New Student Council President

Shianne Frantz, Allendale New OptionsLife hasn’t always been easy for New Options High School’s new student council president. While it’s true that she makes leadership look easy and compassion appear second nature, those qualities have taken root after very real personal heartache and hardship. Still, Shianne Frantz is showing the world that each day holds new hope for those willing to risk.

After growing up and attending school in White Cloud, Michigan, Shianne was abandoned by her mother. With nowhere else to turn, she left to find a new home with her aunt in Allendale, who currently has power of attorney, but not legal custody, of Shianne. Caught in a messy legal web, Shianne — a young mother herself — is left to hope for speedy resolution and safekeeping for the longterm in our community.

“Going to school and being a mom isn’t easy,” she said. “But I think it’s easier going here than somewhere else. People here don’t judge you because they know that everyone has a different reason for coming here. It’s not just because they’re bad. We’re just a big family here and the teachers help a lot.”

Undeterred by personal issues, Shianne still hears the voice of those calling out for help. In fact, her desire to help led her to run for student council.

When Shianne saw that her friend was being bullied, she immediately wanted  to do something about it. Knowing that her friend was not interested in taking a leadership position within the school, Shianne acted on her behalf, running for and winning a position on student council.

Shianne has dreams for her school that demonstrate extending compassion and empathy to others.  For example, she would like to:

  • …create a Roar video to the new Katy Perry song, similar to the one that AHS did. She feels that New Options needs their own, with a unique slant on being courageous.
  • …make a presentation to her school emphasizing that bullying is “not okay”
  • …get New Options students involved in a community project to decorate the brown lunch bags in which kids living in homeless shelters receive their meals.

Student council advisor and science teacher Liz Lillibridge said, “I’m really excited for Shianne to be the president this year. She’s already come to me with quite a few ideas of things that we can do for the community. She’s also an excellent student. Her attendance is great, she’s always here, she’s always doing well. I don’t think she hardly ever has missing work or late assignments — she’s always on task.”

Ms. Lillibridge shared a list of ideas that student council is considering for fundraising, increasing school spirit and reaching out to others. She is excited for what this year may bring.

“I feel like sometimes people have a wrong perception of New Options kids, so we’re trying to get out into the community so they can fix that. I want others to see that our kids are good kids.”

Categories: Allendale New Options High School, Star Teachers, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Allendale Teachers Are Lifelong Learners

Allendale High School Teachers Jenna Chisholm and Becky Karnes

While summer unfurls and kids everywhere climb into their swimsuits and knock off any suggestion of shoes, Allendale teachers are modeling the idea that June doesn’t signal an end to learning.

We are excited to share that Allendale English teachers Jenna Chisholm and Becky Karnes have been awarded Fellowships with the National Writing Project, a group committed to improving the level of writing in American classrooms by helping teachers become better writers themselves.

Our teachers are poised to give over 120 hours of their time–each–to sharpen their skills as writers and as writing teachers. Mrs. Karnes points out that she wants Allendale students to “look good on paper,” whether it’s in the form of a college entrance essay, on a job application, or in a letter of inquiry. “Looking good on paper” opens the door to the next steps, and she’s determined to see AHS kids stand out among their peers.

The National Writing Project runs for four weeks from late June through the better part of July. During this time Mrs. Karnes and Mrs. Chisholm will look at research surrounding the teaching of writing, will reflect on their current teaching practices with supportive colleagues, and will work to bolster their teaching skills while strengthening their own command of the writing craft.

In sharing why this experience means so much to her, Mrs. Chisholm said, “Every person who talks to me about their experience in NWP says it is life-changing. By the time the fourth or fifth person expressed the same sentiment, I started to take notice. I think the most enticing element of the project is that it opens space to do the real work of learning: reading, writing, researching, teaching (and learning from) one another.” 

Because educators spend a bulk of their time grading student work, teachers who participate in the National Writing Project look forward to having time built in to their days to engage the creative process for themselves; they look forward to writing for the sake of writing. The desire to allow the pen or keyboard to sift one’s thoughts was affirmed by Mrs. Karnes; she not only wants this kind of writing in her own life, she wants this kind of authentic writing to come from her students. She hopes that what she learns this summer will help support her efforts at Allendale High:

“Writing can help us work through vital issues in life. It can help us sort out and express our own feelings, help us communicate important thoughts to loved ones as well as strangers, and help us build bridges between friends and maybe even foes. Those are just a few of the reasons I want to be sure I’m doing all I can to help equip our students with the great gift of writing.” 

Congratulations to both Mrs. Karnes and Mrs. Chisholm on being awarded Fellowships to attend the National Writing Project! Thank you for modeling lifelong learning for our students and for embracing your craft!

Categories: Lifelong Learners, Star Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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