Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School — Iroquois Campus
Judy Rooy, 4th Grade Teacher
Where did you begin your career in education?
I graduated from Calvin College in 1977. I took my first teaching position in Sully, Iowa
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?
Sully Christian School, Sully Iowa
Sylvan Christian School
Millbrook Christian School
Grand Rapids Christian Middle School
Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School - Iroquois Campus
Do you have a favorite year that you worked? What made that year stand out in your mind?
I have to honestly say that there has never been an August or September (depending on the decade) that I have not been eager to return to my classroom to prepare for a new year.
Tell about a moment in your career that you will never forget, possibly at an event or with a student.
My favorite moments have been sharing books and essays with students, seeing their eyes light up with interest or excitement, and then having them return to share with me just how right or even how wrong I had been in my recommendation.
Tell about your greatest learning from a colleague, student, parent or PD Day.
Some of you know our story well because you lived it out alongside our family. Some of you have no idea of our journey through these past 20 years. I’m going to share a little with you since today the blessing of being a part of this Grand Rapids Christian School community is on my heart and mind.
On December 6 of 1999, my husband suffered an ischemic stroke. We spent weeks in Saint Mary’s Hospital and then moved on over to Mary Free Bed where he received so much support and began his road of healing. We made it home in time to celebrate New Years Day, 2000 (remember the hype of Y2K?). We also found out that Denny needed a carotid endarterectomy and so that was scheduled for mid-January. Successful surgery and back home. I went back to teaching 6th grade at Millbrook alongside Bob Schellenberg and Jim Koop who loved on my students the month I had taken off to support Denny’s recovery.
The evening of January 24, Denny complained of a headache that was going beyond unbearable. Once again I drove him to Saint Mary’s where he went into a full seizure. He was quickly diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke, a brain bleed that was life-threatening. The surgeon came in to consult with me and said he could remove a section of Denny’s skull and attempt to contain the bleed. I asked him of my options, and he bluntly said agree to the operation or plan a funeral.
The surgery was successful, but the results of the bleed were massively significant. Denny was paralyzed, right side, and needed to learn how to walk and use the motor functions of that side again. He lost his ability to read or recognize numbers. He also suffers from apraxia and aphasia, and so language has also been a huge hurdle.
What does any of this have to do with GRCS? I owe pretty much everything that is my life today to the support and love of this place. Mark Krommendyk allowed me the time to spend with my husband throughout his months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. Jim and Bob did lesson plans with my long term sub and made sure those 6th graders were taught and well loved. The staff offered me their extra sick days so I could continue to get paid during my time away. The staff set up a meal train to make sure my family was fed healthy meals instead of simply convenient fast food. Joe Tanis helped replace a broken garage door. Mark Meekhof arranged for a badly needed roof replacement. Jim and Laurie Israels arranged for a hospital bed to be set up in our home. Friends put together a fundraiser at The Ground Round to help with all the medical bills rolling in.
A crew of GRCS parents arranged to transport my children, a sixth grader, and a ninth grader, to and from school and their extracurricular activities. Neland Avenue CRC, of which Denny and I were no longer members since we had joined a church plant called CentrePointe, took up a special collection to help with the cost of GRCS tuition and medical bills that continued to soar. A dear friend sat with Denny and asked him what he still wanted to be able to do since owning or operating his hair salon was no longer an option. She taught him how to cook by looking at pictures of ingredients (some meals were less than palatable at first), dear Jack Post helped Denny dig and create a Koi pond in our back yard, and KrisAnne Dykstra arrived every spring in order to help Denny fill our back yard and his flower pots with all the beauty and color they could find.
Sometimes life presents you with the unexpected. And then the unexpected reaches out to you in the form of people being used as Christ’s words, and hands, and feet. When people asked me why, in our circumstances, I felt the price of Christian Education was so important, I could talk about how my children lived daily the teachings of Christian Education (preparing children to be servants of Christ), how I and Denny were filled up over and over with the love of this GRCS community.
What are you looking forward to or what is your next adventure?
I will visit my family, near and far, at any time of the calendar year I choose. I will read books and essays and not have to close the cover at 10 pm. I look forward to the serenity of Sunday nights.