Joy Walczak

SNN: Lessons from a retiring teacher

Jun 24, 2019
Kris Weller, Kenowa Hills Central Elementary photo
School News Network

After 33 years in front of a Kenowa Hills Central Elementary classroom, a retiring teacher shares her thoughts on how to bring more people into the profession and improve schooling for the students they serve.

For Kris Weller, it wasn’t about the big events or recognitions. It was the small moments…making meaningful connections and building relationships with students…that made her a more effective teacher.

She offered these thoughts from her decades of experience:

SNN: Minimizing Polar Vortex affect

Feb 11, 2019
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Two weeks ago school administrators made it to work every day while snow-clogged roads and sub-zero temps forced them to call a week-long snow day event for students. Last week, ice is hampered efforts to dig out of a learning-time deficit.

Of Kent ISD’s 20 districts, only East Grand Rapids held classes at all last week during the polar vortex, and East was only open on Tuesday. It was the longest period of time school has been called consecutively, according to Rockford’s Mike Shibler, West Michigan’s longest-serving superintendent.

SNN: KTC Core YMCA Cooking Matters

Dec 17, 2018
KTC YMCA Cooking Matters
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Using fresh ingredients and basic kitchen techniques, students with learning challenges are gaining skills for independence and potential. Like most young adults, students attending a “Cooking Matters” class at the Visser Family YMCA knew what snacks and treats could be found in their refrigerators and cupboards at home. But after the class, they now know how to stock those shelves with healthy food they can prepare themselves. The class was presented through Kent Transition Center’s CORE Program for students with disabilities.

SNN: Kenowa Hills Security

Oct 10, 2018
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Kent County voters passed a 55-million dollar bond last year, enabling school districts to create stronger schools and stronger communities. One district is using those dollars to strengthen security.

Students in Kenowa Hills Public Schools are getting used to entering their buildings in a brand new way. Buzzer systems with updated features allow better communication between the person wanting in and the office staff who can open the doors.

SNN: GRPS U-Prep celebrates its 10 Anniversary

Oct 8, 2018
GRPS U-Prep
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Building a bridge between high school and higher education is one of the goals of an innovative approach to education in Grand Rapids. School News Network recently attended a tenth anniversary celebration for a partnership that’s putting students on a path to success.

When Chyna Figures was a sixth-grader at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy, she and her friend Maya Thompson agreed they wanted to start their own law firm someday. Now both in college, they’re still on track for that plan.

SNN: Meet Your Principal

Aug 13, 2018
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Before you know it, another school year will be in full swing. Whether your students are attending the school they’re always gone to or entering a new environment, it’s good to know who’s in charge.

Assistant Principal Chris Bernard is a self-proclaimed sports nut. He also happens to love driving a Zamboni almost as much as he enjoys driving students to succeed.

SNN: Wyoming Class Library

Aug 6, 2018
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Sometimes all it takes is the right story….and one inspiring teacher…to turn students away from their phones and screens and onto a world between the covers of actual books. 

A Wyoming Junior High classroom is a testament to the power of words. English teacher Katie Sluiter’s encourages eighth-graders to choose from her library of 1,000 popular works. It’s a collection that keeps on growing.

SNN: Wyoming Summer Jobs

Jul 16, 2018
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Teen Outreach, which meets weekly during the school year, is helping students bridge the time between graduation and college in beneficial ways.

Zayveon Hymon is spending the summer on a construction crew, doing minor repairs, major projects and gaining valuable experience before moving on to college and careers. For Twenty hours a week he learns to use the tools of the trade and build his résumés alongside Dale Cross, owner of Wyoming-based Sarge Construction.

SNN: Kentwood Civic Camp

Jul 9, 2018
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The Declaration of Independence was signed two-hundred-and-forty-one years ago, making the USA an independent nation. An August event takes a deeper dive into that document and the laws of the land.

If you really want to understand what our nation’s forefathers had in mind when they got together to create the United States of America, an upcoming summer camp could be for you. Kentwood Public Schools and the Michigan Center for Civic Education are teaming up to offering a free summer workshop in August.

SNN: SmartArt Top 10

Jun 12, 2018
ArtPrize SmartArt Top 10 2018
School News Network

A $1,000 college scholarship from Consumers Energy will go to the top winner of this year’s SmartArt competition, a contest that stands for Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme. 

Watercolor wind turbines and pastel solar panels are some of the images and mediums used to create works of art with a renewal energy theme. They’re among the top ten finalists chosen in the sixth annual SmartArt competition. It’s a collaboration between Grand Rapids Public Schools, ArtPrize and Consumers Energy.

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