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Alumni News

Alissa (Pitcher) Garbini '12
I am just completing my first year of teaching and have loved it! Somehow, God coaxed me out to Nampa, Idaho - a city close to Boise. I am teaching a self-contained special education classroom that ranges from Kindergarten to 2nd grade. It's been an amazing blessing to follow God's leading in this.
Thanks, Calvin, for helping us become the teachers we are today.

Nicole (Lenko) Walker '11 and Jacob Walker '12
We have been living in Meridian, Idaho for almost a year now. Nicole landed a job teaching high school math and CAS classes at INSPIRE Connections Academy, an online public school. Connections Academy, a facet of Connections Education, has public schools in about 24 states, and INSPIRE is their Idaho school. Teaching online, and for a private company, has been very interesting. I look forward to moving to a brick-and-mortar school in another year or two, but for now I am staying with INSPIRE and learning how to be a great online teacher. It's very educational for me, and practical, because online education is clearly "here to stay." It has its shortfalls, but these students need good teachers just like all students need good teachers, and I am committed to serving them for at least another year. Jacob was hired as a high school math teacher in the Meridian school district. As a nice warm-up, he taught a 3-week, 5-hour-per-day section of Geometry B in summer school. He used those Calvin lesson plan templates as he planned out his lessons!

Jen Erickson '11 moved to Honduras to teach English to middle and high school students at Abundant Life Christian School.

Julia Garvelink ’10
I have taught history in middle and high school for the past three years at Calvin Christian in Escondido, CA.

Lindsey Cooper ‘10
After graduating from Calvin in 2010, I did the unexpected (at least for myself)...I moved across the world to Jakarta. I moved in July of 2010 and started teaching 3rd grade at Sekolah Pelita Harapan International Kemang Village (the first 3 words are in Bahasa and they mean “School of Light and Hope”).  I was the one and only 3rd grade teacher on a brand new campus.  I started my year with 6 students!  There were many hardships of the first year and looking back it is amazing that our school made it through.  The commute to work was 15 minutes, but the commute home was an average of 2 hours.  This is something only people in Jakarta understand...the horrendous traffic!  The second year I was asked to teach 5th grade and had a full classroom of 24 students.  We also moved closer to the school and were so relieved to be a 10 minute walk from campus.  The school continued to grow exponentially and this past year I taught 17 students and my partner teacher taught 18 students.  This was my 3rd and final year here at SPH.  In January of this year I applied for a job at Timothy Christian in Chicago and received the 3rd grade position.  I am excited for a new job and look forward to being a two hour drive from home instead of a 24 hour flight.  I am so blessed to have had this experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Growth happens in times of deepest trouble.  God continued to be an ever-present force in our school, but also in Indonesia.  He is at work here and it was a privilege to be a small part of it.

Charis Larson ‘09
Since I left Calvin I've been teaching full time at Ottawa Hills High School ---PE and Health. I’m also currently coaching Varsity Golf and Softball.

Tyler Harms ’09
Since I have left Calvin I have been teaching special education in Fort Collins, Colorado. We have an amazing school, staff, and students here at Wellington Middle School. I am the department leader in a multi-categorical program. This has been a great experience as we are able to take monthly field trips, which allows the students to give back to their community in a variety of ways. Our school recently became a National School to Watch, National Green Ribbon School, and an AVID Demonstration school (Advancement Via Individual Determination). I have completed two Master's Degrees since becoming a teacher out here in CO. One is in special education and the other is in mathematics. Calvin prepared me well!

Jonathan Langdon ‘08
I'm just finishing my 5th year of teaching high school science at Calvary Christian Schools in
Fruitport, MI and I've also been coaching track.

David Curtis ’07
Since graduating Calvin in 2007, I've used my education degree in a unique and varied way by working with a global poverty solutions partner called Food for the Hungry (FH). I've worked at FH for over 5 years now, and have served in several different roles including managing the internship program, helping lead an awareness campaign about domestic child sex slavery, coordinating logistics and communications during disaster responses, coordinating the leadership of the organization, and now in the communications department. Any time someone asks me about my educational background, I proudly state that I was an education major at Calvin College, and that the comprehensive and holistic training I received during that time has been an invaluable asset in my career, responding to God's call to serve. I am proud of what my Calvin education has prepared me for in an industry that is all about teaching moments.

Tracy Jansen ‘07
After graduating from Calvin I got my first job, teaching 1st grade full time at Legacy Christian School in Grand Rapids.  I taught there for 5 years, and during that time I had my first two children.  This year I moved to Dutton Christian where I teach 3rd grade part time.  I completed Calvin’s Literacy MEd program in 2013.  I feel very blessed to have been able to attend Calvin College for all my teacher preparation and I look forward to the next part of my journey.

Vanessa Abreu ‘07
I am teaching 3rd grade at Grand Rapids Christian Elementary in the Spanish Immersion program.

Tyler Zwagerman '06 teaches at Manley Career Academy High School on Chicago’s west side and assists with a program designed to increase the number of students that go on to college after graduating from high school.

Peter Ippel ‘06
After teaching for two years at Buchanan Elementary school in Grand Rapids, I moved to New Mexico with my family.  I teach 3rd grade at Juan de Onate Elementary School in Gallup, New Mexico. This is my fourth year teaching third grade.  As a team, we have been experimenting with concepts from Expeditionary Learning.  We've created learning expeditions based around plants, animals, geology and geography.  One highlight was that last year, after 4 months of studying about geology and geography, our third graders created books highlighting problems with the canyon behind our school and outlining potential solutions to the problem.  They presented their work at the local cultural center in an evening exhibition. This past year, I became Nationally Board Certified.

Kara (VerMerris) VanderPol ‘06
After graduating from Calvin in 2006, I have experienced diverse educational settings.  I initially was a special-education paraprofessional for a year at Vanguard Charter School in Wyoming, MI.  After that year, I moved to Bangor, Maine where I taught first grade for a year.  I then moved back to Grand Rapids where I taught 4th grade from 2009-2012 at Excel Charter Academy.  I absolutely loved my experience at Excel.  Currently, my husband and I are living in Denver, CO where I am a Program Manager for a non-profit, literacy-based organization called Reading Partners.  We work with students K-3 in Title-1 schools around the Denver and Aurora areas of Colorado, servicing struggling readers.  It was been a wonderful joy and challenge to put my teaching experience to use by supporting the schools and staff to better help our students.

Sara Asma ‘05
I'm currently teaching at Merit Learning Center, an alternative high school in Goshen, IN.  I will also be working part-time this summer for Lesson Planet as a math content reviewer.  In previous years, I worked at Think Through Math (an online supplemental math program) as an education specialist, at Virtual Nerd (an online math tutorial system) as a math content designer, and also taught 8th grade math at Triton Central Middle School in Fairfield, IN for a few years.

Rachel (Dyksterhouse) Bell ‘05
I worked for a semester at Moline Christian as a long-term sub immediately following my student-teaching.  Then I was hired in October of 2005 at Paramount Charter Academy (a National Heritage Academy School) in Kalamazoo.  I was teaching 1st grade up until this school year when I moved to 2nd grade. I remember how almost all of our Education classes at Calvin got us into a classroom or tutoring at some point in the semester.  Wow, that was so beneficial!

Rachel Carpenter ’05
Since I graduated from Calvin I have substitute taught in many schools and have moved up to the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula.  I earned a Masters in Forestry at MTU. I then was an AmeriCorps member for two years, one was in a local school district here in the UP and the other was with the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics & Environmental Education at MTU.  I then got a job with BHK Child Development where I have been working for the past three years in a 21st Century funded program called Great Explorations.  I have run three different programs in that time.  While running these programs I have learned that our current school system is failing our students and I am working to fill that gap for the students we serve, most of whom are high needs.  Through my work with AmeriCorps and BHK I have been able to work with thousands of children in our area and have hopefully touched many of their lives.

Laura (Weglarz) O'Shaughnessey ‘05
I am currently teaching middle school science and a few other classes at Lafayette Christian School, which is a private Christian school in Lafayette, Indiana.  I graduated from Calvin in 2005 and this will be my 4th year of teaching at this school.

Oliver Hersey ‘05
After graduating from Calvin in 2005 with a Secondary Education degree in mathematics, I moved to the Chicago suburbs and taught for 4 years at Timothy Christian High School.  I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and the relationships I was able to build with students, families, and other teachers.  In 2009 I enrolled in a MA of Biblical Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Languages at Trinity International University.  In 2011 I finished the MA and am currently enrolled full time in the PhD program.  I still tutor, teach at camps, in churches, and have just recently stepped down from coaching high school soccer in order to focus on my studies. My goal has been to return to the classroom in order to teach biblical studies and Ancient Near East history, culture, and language.

Deborah Walker '05
Deborah teaches 6th grade in the Harlem Children's Zone.

Matt Nummerdor ‘04
In 2007, I was offered a position teaching middle school social studies at Western Sky Middle School in Goodyear, AZ.  Having just been married, my wife and I took advantage of the opportunity to try out life somewhere new. We have no regrets in our decision, as it certainly proved to be a part of God's plan for our lives.  In 2009, I received the Westside Impact Teacher of the Year award, which is given to one teacher at my school each year. My wife and I became licensed in foster care and recently adopted our two-year-old son, Isaac.  We continue to discuss the possibility of returning to Michigan, but for right now, we're enjoying the sunshine in the desert.

Jenny (deFouw) Geuder ‘04
I went on to get my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Calvin.
I have been teaching at Holland Christian Middle school and Rose Park Elementary for about 8 years now.  I teach elementary and middle school art, and 8th grade literature.  I love it there, and feel my education prepared me thoroughly for my job. I also chaperone kids to Europe every other year, and that has been a wonderful experience to see the world and help kids appreciate other cultures as well.

Emily (Vitton) Waisanen '04 was named "Teacher of the Year" at A.G. Currie Middle School, in Tustin, CA. She teaches 8th grade physical science and is the student council adviser.

Andrew Vanden Heuvel '04 helped his high school students discover an asteroid using Calvin's remote telescope. A grant from Calvin allowed the students to use the college's telescopes for their studies. The college maintains telescopes in New Mexico that can be remotely operated over the Internet. Andrew has also been recognized for his success with online teaching and teaching with Google Glass.

Jodi (Vermeulen) Sunderman ‘04
I will be starting my 6th year of teaching art at Des Moines Christian School, grades 8-12 in Urbandale, IA.

Nate Vander Wal ‘03
Since graduating from Calvin, I have taught at Manhattan Christian School in Montana for 4 years, Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis for three years, and Jenison Christian School in Michigan for three years.  I have taught Middle School Math and Science as well as Middle and High School Bible courses.  I have also driven bus, coached, led praise and spiritual leadership teams, and served on a lot of committees. 

Holly Parton ‘03
I moved to California after graduation and obtained my California Teaching Credential.  I taught middle school math at Gilroy Unified Public Schools for nine years.  Over half our population was Hispanic and we had several English Language Learners.  I just recently moved to Florida and obtained my Florida Teaching Credential.  I am currently homeschooling my kindergartener.

Erica Giles ‘02
I have been teaching middle school Spanish at Bradley Middle School in Huntersville, NC, for over 10 years.

Deborah Benjamin ’02 teaches high school Learning Readiness, PE and Health at West Aurora High School.

Rhonda Carey ’02 teaches middle school math at Northeast Middle School in Midland, MI.

Rebecca VanElk ‘02
I taught for one year at the International School of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, then I taught for nine years at Goshen High School in Goshen Indiana in the English department, and I am currently also a Mentor in the TAP program (System for Teacher and Student Advancement) in addition to my teaching duties. I spent one year traveling abroad, which included volunteering at schools in Tanzania and the Philippines for several months.

Natasha Witte ‘01
I taught for seven years at Oakdale Christian School.  After Oakdale closed, I moved abroad and have been internationally teaching for the past three years.  For two years, I taught Grade 1 at the American School of Guatemala in Guatemala City.  Currently I am teaching Prep (Kindergarten) at the Istanbul International Community School in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Lisa (Whaite) Kotarski ‘01 
I have been teaching students with autism in various degrees ever since then, getting my Master’s Degree in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Eastern Michigan University in May of
2012, after a long arduous life process of classes, marriage, children, and my husband leaving his job to become a pastor in the Free Methodist Church...what an amazing 12 years it has been! I work at the Genesee Intermediate School District in Genesee County, Michigan, teaching elementary aged students with autism.

Kelli (Childs) Vallans ‘00
I have been teaching high school math. I have taught at four schools: two years at Lackey High School in Indian Head, Maryland, five years at Dubai American Academy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, three years at Chaparral High School in Parker, Colorado. My current job (I'm at the end of my third year here) is at Western Academy of Beijing in Beijing, China.

Carrie Vander Zwaag ‘00 
I taught at Valley Christian Middle School for six years in Bellflower, California (mixture of science, English, and coordinating outdoor ecology/hiking/backpacking courses). I earned my Master’s Degree in Science Education from Cal State Long Beach. We spent two years in Orealla, Guyana and Pohnpei, Micronesia where I helped start a secondary school for a rural Amerindian village, taught science, English, coordinated drama and yearbook productions, helped with university entrance, and assisted my husband with a computer course in a village without electricity.  Now I am at Reporoa College in Reporoa (rural) New Zealand I’ve taught Years 7,8,9,10,11, & 12 Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Music, Spanish, coordinated long-distance correspondence learning, GATE programs such as GKP, the running club, local orchestra, and more. Recently, I’ve been awarded with the Royal Society of New Zealand Primary Science Education Fellowship which funded a semester’s leave to study Earth Science applications with local scientists.  From monitoring geothermal hotspots and hold ice cores from Antarctica to witnessing a volcanic eruption firsthand, I’ve gained heaps of experiences to share with my students.  This, combined with a recent scholarship to study deforestation in Borneo, has made for a terrific past year.  My next venture is being accepted to speak at the Australasian Science Researchers Conference in Wellington.

Chad Zuber '99 and his family organized a new school in Tanzania.

Sarah Bellanca ‘99
After graduating from Calvin in 2001, I worked for 5 years in Michigan as a kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade teacher and then my family moved to Maryland where I have been teaching 1st grade for Frederick County Public Schools since 2006. I received my master’s degree in K-2 Reading in April 2012 from Walden University. Teaching has changed tremendously in the last 12 years but I still absolutely love what I do and how I get to impact children and help them become lifelong learners.

Matt Le Febre ‘97
I am married to fellow Calvin grad Sarah (Brown) Le Febre and live in Holland.  We have three kids; Thaddaeus - age 13 (7th grader at Holland Public Schools), Libby - age 8 (2nd grader at HPS), and Ahava - age 5 (pre-schooler). I am currently completing my 15th year teaching Middle School P.E. for Grand Haven Area Public Schools.  I am also the Girls' Varsity Basketball Coach for the Lady Dutch at Holland Public Schools.

Wendi Vogel ‘97
I have been teaching here in Kentwood for 16 awesome years. I teach middle school science at Crestwood Middle School in Kentwood on 44th and Breton area.  It is a very diverse population, with over 52 countries represented, and we celebrate this diversity.

Arelis Diaz '95 was the Director of Instruction for the Godwin Heights School District.

Greg Helmer '94 named "Outstanding Practicing Principal for 2012" by the Michigan Elementary and Secondary Principals Association.

Stacey (Washburn) Vanden Bosch '92 started one of the first Christian Spanish language immersion programs in the U.S.

Doug Heetderks '80 directs the science program at Westminster Christian School in Miami.

Nereida "Nery" Quesada Garcia '79 is joining the Community Foundation of the Holland-Zeeland Area as director of its K-7 initiative with Destination Education.

Martheen (Geelhoed) Griffioen ‘78
I taught for several years in Christian Schools and served as a substitute teacher when I lived in New Jersey for twelve years. I graduated with a Master’s in Christian Education from Calvin Seminary in 1978 and have used that to be a Director of Education and Outreach in two churches.  Since retirement we have been in eighteen churches as Interim Ministry Teams and I have led many Bible Studies for women.  I have been blessed to use my good education at Calvin in various experiences. 

John Booy '74 founded Potter's House Christian School and has become a national spokesperson on urban education.

George Comer '68 is the Federal Programs Director for the Gary Community Schools.

Bern Koops '34 is still teaching at age 99.

Contact us if you have additional news items and updates related to Education Program alumni.