The sixth graders at Three Oaks Public School Academy went to Community enCompass to learn more about homelessness in Muskegon, MI. As part of their service-learning initiative this year, the sixth graders are focusing on homelessness and how they can help people in their community.
The service-learning initiatives have been introduced so that students learn how to be part of the change and solution to many of the unjust things happening in the world and in their own community.
Community enCompass is a neighborhood development organization serving the core-city neighborhoods of Muskegon. During their visit, they also connected with the Homeless Service Program (HARA) of Community enCompass.
The leaders of the program expressed that the students had great questions and that they were very impressed with their knowledge and insight. Some of the questions that they asked were:
- What are the main causes of homelessness?
- How much abuse is in the homeless population?
- Why do people degrade and attack homeless people?
- Where do homeless people sleep?
- What is the best solution for homelessness?
The students were intrigued by the presenters and their own personal and inspiring stories as well. They expressed that they were so happy to learn about Community enCompass, the service that they are providing to the community and how much they are doing it out of love and commitment to Muskegon.
The final part of the day was learning about solutions that they could offer. Students learned how they could serve food and the importance of getting in touch with their local officials and encouraging them to support the homeless population.
We are thankful for the opportunity that our students encountered at Community enCompass. It was a wonderful day of experiential learning.
Our school has been awarded the Building a Healthy Communities program!
The program is a public-private initiative that will provide students, teachers, and administrators with resources and tools to promote a healthier school environment.
The focus will be to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, address mental health and well being all while empowering children to make healthy choices.
This will also teach students to create and achieve positive goals, make positive decisions, feel and show empathy for others, as well as develop and maintain positive relationships.
The Three Oaks school community has a genuine spirit of giving this year and the staff has been instrumental in teaching students what this truly means. It is truly remarkable to see the outpouring of compassion from the entire school community.
During math, the fourth graders have been learning about ratios. To make this into an experiential learning project, the 3rd and 4th-grade teachers bought supplies to make trail mix. With a lesson plan, they put together the right ratio for the trail mix.
Then, they sold it to make money and then gave all the proceeds to Kids Food Basket!
The PTO also wanted to show love, so they worked very closely with the school to identify students who were homeless and families who were in need. The student council collected toys and the PTO supplied other items that the families indicated that they needed.
Finally, the PERCS (providing emotional wellbeing through responsibility, character traits, and service-learning) class made Christmas cards and distributed them at a local assisted living center.
By showing these acts of kindness, families feel cared for and experience a true feeling of belonging. That is what Three Oaks Academy is all about. We are a family that expects academic excellence and takes care of one another.
At Three Oaks, we believe it’s important to partner with local community organizations to give back and impact our city. This year each grade (kindergarten through sixth) is heading up a different project to help the greater community of Muskegon. Together, we are learning unique ways to engage through service-learning projects.
We were lucky enough to have Maranda of WoodTV8 and WOTV4 come out to highlight these service-learning projects. When she visited, she interviewed students, Ms. Vasbinder and Mr. Meldrum about the impact these projects have had on them and the community.
We believe that all children are capable of achieving excellence in their academic lives and should be prepared for active citizenship in their communities.
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Today we celebrate Mrs. Monecia Vasbinder, principal and Mr. Jared Meldrum, vice principal at Three Oaks Public School Academy. Their phenomenal leadership has made Three Oaks a dynamite place for kids and staff to thrive. The leadership they provide allows children to achieve excellence in their academic endeavors and prepares them for active citizenship in their communities.
Mrs. Vasbiner attended Aquinas College and Methodist University in North Carolina for her bachelor’s degree and Aquinas College for her master’s degree. She has been in education for 25 years with 12 of those being at Three Oaks. She loves to spend time with her family, traveling, at the lake and fixing up old houses.
Mr. Meldrum attended Michigan University and Dominican University in Chicago for his educational degree. He has been in education for 12 years and at Three Oaks for seven. He loves to cook and spend time with his wife and two kids.
Both Mrs. Vasbiner and Mr. Meldrum care deeply about the students at Three Oaks. We are grateful for their commitment that provides safety and security for all kids at Three Oaks.
Mrs. Carinna Freeman, Three Oaks Public School Academy sixth-grade teacher, has a big heart. She is willing to go to great lengths to make sure her students get all the necessary opportunities to thrive in school and in their community.
On September 23 through 25, the sixth-grade class of Three Oaks went to Camp Newaygo for a two-night, three-day team building trip. During the trip they were able to participate in many activities that they have never experienced. Being out of the city and in an outdoor area allowed them to participate in things such as kayaking, canoeing, archery and other adventures.
Students learned that success does not happen by themselves, it takes a village. During one of the activities, students had to help each other up a ladder. The lesson learned during this activity was that they had to lean on each other to reach success.
“The whole three days were full of “wow” moments,” Freeman commented. “The best was when the class had to compete against one another. Little did we know that what we thought was a competition really was a team-building activity. It helped us all remember that we need each other to succeed. It was a powerful moment when everyone realized that the activity was really about being a team and leaning on each other. It wasn’t about us individually, but as a whole.”
There were also bigger takeaways from some of the students that may help alter their path this year.
For example one of the sixth-grade students said that being with classmates and teachers in a safe and beautiful setting away from all the craziness of life helped her out of “depression.”
Other teachers who came along to chaperone observed that the sixth-grade class is special and their teamwork is amazing. Ms. Freeman has done an exceptional job to create a safe, warm learning environment where students can thrive.
“Students are forming bonds with classmates, leaning on each other for help, and being proactive leaders in and around school and home,” Monecia Vasbinder said, principal at Three Oaks Public School, commented. “We are lucky to have Mrs. Freeman leading the way in the sixth-grade classroom. We are excited to see how these students grow and progress in their education.”