Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School — Iroquois Campus
Pam Menkveld, Young 5's Aide in Lori VanderBaan's Classroom
Where did you begin your career in education?
I began at Sylvan Christian School when Marianne Grooters was principal. I believe it was the fall of 1996. I was an aide in kindergarten with Ruth Bush and a playground supervisor during the noon recess.
How many years have you been working at Grand Rapids Christian Schools?
What schools/buildings have worked at either before coming to GRCS or while at GRCS?
I previously worked at Sylvan Christian, Millbrook Christian, and now at the Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School Iroquois Campus.
Do you have a favorite year that you worked or a favorite memory? What made this stand out in your mind?
My favorite years were in preschool with Lori VanderBaan. She did a great job with the curriculum, and the field trips were such a great extra-curricular experience for the kids and myself. It gave me a chance to talk with parents on a more personal level and get to know the families in a more personal way.
Tell about a moment in your career that you will never forget, possibly at an event or with a student or co-worker.
We were at Millbrook Christian, and one of the moms indicated that her young son had asked Jesus into his life, in part, because of his experience in our classroom. His exposure to Jesus through the curriculum and Lori and I was impactful in his young life. What an amazing gift that was; to know we were truly making a difference in the lives of these young children and expanding the kingdom of God!
Tell about your most significant learning experience either from a colleague, student, parent, or Professional Development Day.
My greatest learning experience came when I was able to bring my therapy dog, Ellie, into school (for four years) and work with some of the Inclusion students. Watching them overcome their initial hesitation with a dog and watch their trust grow was humbling. I could physically see them relax and take a pause in their day when they were with Ellie. The Lord gives us so many opportunities, but sometimes we just don't slow down enough to embrace them and learn from the simplicity of them. Working with the Inclusion students showed me the beauty in all of life's experiences, be they complex or simple.
What are you looking forward to, or what is your next adventure?
Family time will be at the top of my list. I will have six grandchildren by the middle of summer, so spending time with all of them will be a priority! I want to volunteer in a few specific ways, but Covid-19 bans may determine if that is possible. Working in my flower garden and spending relaxed time tending to the beauty of God's creation is also something I am looking forward to. I am excited to see where my love for animals may lead me as well.
Any other advice, memories, or stories you would like to share?
Christian education has such an important impact on a child's life. I hope parents realize the sacrifices they make for being a part of GRCS is worth the time, effort, and energy. Christian education is a generational commitment, so I challenge all family members to become a part of this important process for the future of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As it says in Proverbs 22:6, " train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." What a beautiful promise for us all.