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Teacher Spotlight: Tara Triezenberg

Teacher Spotlight: Tara Triezenberg

Our featured teacher of the week is Tara Triezenberg! Tara is entering her third year as our literacy coach. Her love for reading is contagious and she loves to share her passion with students at Three Oaks.  

Tara is entering her third year as our literacy coach. Her love for reading is contagious and she loves to share her passion with students at Three Oaks.  

She obtained her undergrad degree from Grand Valley State University with an emphasis in elementary language arts. She has also completed coursework towards a master’s in teaching reading.

Tara has been in education for 12 years and has been with Three Oaks for the past three. Prior to this, she was a third and fourth-grade teacher in Grand Rapids for seven years. 

This year, Tara is looking forward to watching students find joy in reading. She is excited by the progress students make when choosing their own book and then actually being able to read it with confidence. She has found that a smile and a kind posture lets kids know that she is here for them and that she expects them to do great things. 

When she has a bad day, she remembers the joy and excitement on a child’s face when they realize they are reading a book on their own! It’s what makes her motivated and continue the work she is doing. 

Tara is married to her wonderful husband and has three beautiful children. When she is not caring for her family you can find her reading, crocheting, writing or going for a walk in nature.

50 backpacks donated to our students 

50 backpacks donated to our students 

50 backpacks donated to our students
State Senator Jon Bumstead and Ruth Gaudard from AT&T Pioneers came on Thursday, August 22 to donate 50 backpacks, with supplies, for our students at Three Oaks. 

Senator Jon Bumstead serves in the 34th district as Three Oaks representative in the State of Michigan Senate. He is eager to engage in our community and we are thankful for his commitment!

AT&T Pioneers is the world’s largest industry-related volunteer organization. All members of the AT&T Pioneers are currently employed by or retired from AT&T. They volunteer and donate throughout the country to many different organizations.  

We love to partner with our community and are thankful for many students who will receive new backpacks this fall! 

Teacher Spotlight: Jane Hennrick

Teacher Spotlight: Jane Hennrick

Jane Hennrick is a kindergarten teacher at Three Oaks Public School Academy. She knows that each student is different and brings something unique and special to the classroom. She loves being able to teach and make an impact on students. Jane Hennrick Photo

We asked Jane some questions about her journey to teaching and what she likes the most about it. Keep reading to hear all about it. 

Why did you become a teacher and who inspired you?
I became a teacher because of the influence teachers had on me at a very young age. In kindergarten and first grade, I was very shy. I had low reading scores and always feared that my teacher would call on me to read and I would be made fun of.  After having some wonderful teachers who helped me with reading, I became more confident in myself.  

Because of this, I knew that I could also have that impact on other student’s learning and could have the ability to watch them grow. I was so grateful that someone took the time out to get to know me and my learning style, that I was inspired to be able to do this for others as well. 

Who was a teacher who made a profound impact on your life?
My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Bass was a very influential teacher that enhanced my love for science.  She had a classroom of animals that consisted of birds, rabbits, mice, hamsters, lizards, snakes, turtles and fish.  She made learning fun with many different hands-on experiences.

What are you looking forward to the most this upcoming year?
For the upcoming year, I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know my new students!

In my class, I try to make learning fun for my kids.  I try to give them many different experiences that will add to their knowledge.  For example: to learn about life cycles, we researched and studied chickens, then we brought in an incubator and hatched chicken eggs.  The kids were involved in the cleaning, feeding and handling of the baby chicks until they were old enough to join the other chickens on the farm.

How would students describe you?
My students would describe me as being fun and someone who deeply cares about them.

How would your colleagues describe you?
My fellow colleagues would describe me as happy, dedicated and organized.

Where did you go to college and what is your previous teaching experience?
I attended Ferris State after my high school graduation and was enrolled in their pre-teaching program.  After completion of my associate’s degree, I married my high school sweetheart and transferred to Grand Valley State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s, then later received my Early Childhood Education (ZA) endorsement and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

I previously taught preschool at Shelby Public Schools for four years and a multi-aged kindergarten-through-second-grade classroom at Lakeshore Public Academy for eight years before joining the staff at Three Oaks.

What do you do when you are not working at Three Oaks?
Outside of the classroom, I enjoy reading, camping and skiing with my family. Since my husband and I are empty-nesters, we also enjoy going on the sand dunes and trail riding.

 

Teaher Spotlight – Dana Johnson

Teaher Spotlight – Dana Johnson

Dana Johnson is entering her 19th year as a teacher and her 11th year at Three Oaks. She is one of the third-grade teachers.  She loves that she is a teacher and that she can make an influence on kid’s lives daily.  

Her inspiration for becoming an educator was connected to those teachers and administrators who made an impact on her life. 

Her assistant principal in high school who helped guide students, showed fairness and strived for justice inspired Dana to bring these things to her own classroom.

Her chemistry teacher in high school also brought learning to life through guided inquiry and problem-solving. She was inspired by her unconventional techniques.

“I strive to bring the same passion for innovative ways to learn to my classroom that past teachers and administrators did for me,” Dana Johnson said. 

She calls Three Oaks Public School Academy her forever home and family. Her impact on students’ lives has had an ever-lasting impact on them.

Teacher Spotlight – Kristi Johnson

Teacher Spotlight – Kristi Johnson

Kristi Johnson’s whole career has been at Three Oaks Public School Academy and she has loved every minute of it. At Three Oaks, they are all a family and deeply care for one another. 

We asked Kristi some questions about her journey to teaching and what she likes the most about it. Keep reading to hear all about it. Who inspired you or why did you choose to be a teacher? 

I love helping people understand things and I love children, so it was a natural fit!

Who were some of the most influential teachers that you had growing up? What made them have an impact on your life?

I was blessed to have so many wonderful teachers in life who have impacted me in different ways.  One person that stands out to me would be my elementary school principal, Mr. Ykimoff. He would play with us at recess.  He celebrated big accomplishments with us and he also helped get to the root of issues and sort out problems together. He really got to know us on an individual level and made everyone feel significant and loved.

What part of the mission at Three Oaks makes you invest in the community? 

I really love our mission and wholeheartedly buy into it.  At Three Oaks we believe that every single student can be engaged and empowered in their learning.  The Muskegon community deserves a place where teachers believe in their students and push them to achieve at high levels while also loving and caring for their hearts.  We strive to be that place for our parents and students.

What are you most looking forward to this upcoming year? 

I always love our back to school events because we see so many big smiles, hugs, and lots of excitement for the upcoming year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.  

I’m also excited to start working with kids right away!  I finished the year with a few students that made incredible gains all year with me in interventions and this school year is going to be the year we will close that gap entirely for them and I’m just so excited to see it happen.

If you have a bad day, what makes you get up the next morning and be the best teacher possible? 

I personally draw my strength and motivation from my faith in God.  The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  So I pray on my way to work and I try to live according to what I believe

What’s your secret ingredient in your classroom? What techniques do you use that students really gravitate toward? 

I don’t know if I have any secret ingredient, per se.  I get to know my students really well as learners – what their strengths and weaknesses are and what strategies will help them move forward.  I give very specific frequent feedback and praise students for successfully completing a challenging text or utilizing a strategy on their own.  They graph the results of their progress monitoring, which often leads to organic goal setting and investment. It’s nothing revolutionary, but I believe that with the right support they can do very hard things and I make sure they believe and trust that I will do whatever it takes to get them there.

What was your journey to obtain your college degree? What school did you attend?

I went to Michigan State University and knew right away I wanted to major in Elementary Education.  I joined the Urban Educators Cohort Program on accident and ended up developing a passion for urban education.  My classes opened my eyes to some of the extreme challenges students and families face every day and how those things can dramatically impact learning.  I was surprised by how many people seek to avoid urban or low-income schools or use them as a stepping stone in their career. I wanted to find a school that was empowering under-served populations and commits to a community that other people weren’t willing to commit to.

If you have previously taught, where did you teach and for how long? 

My whole career has been at Three Oaks!  I found Choice Schools through the MSU Job Fair, they matched me up with Three Oaks and I’ve been here ever since.  I taught 5th grade for four years and have been an interventionist for one year.

What do you do outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies?

I like to spend as much time with my husband as I can.  We go for walks, volunteer at our church, and have recently gotten into playing board games (kinda dorky, but more fun than I thought)! I also like to read – mostly historical fiction.

Teacher Spotlight – Carina Freeman

Teacher Spotlight – Carina Freeman

Carina Freeman, a fifth-grade teacher at Three Oaks Public School Academy has been teaching for two years. She is passionate about making an impact on kids’ lives and loves that she gets to be in a classroom every single day. 

We asked Carina some questions about her journey to teaching and what she likes the most about it. Keep reading to hear all about it. 

Who inspired you or why did you choose to be a teacher? 

My parents and grandmother always said they knew I’d be a teacher. This was unbeknownst to me at the time, but boy were they right. 

Teaching was something that I walked into and I am forever grateful for the journey that got me here. My youngest children had just entered kindergarten and I wanted to help out at their school somehow. I had finished college the year prior and felt like being at the school would also give me the opportunity to be close to my twins during the day. 

Their teacher suggested that I try substituting, so I started substituting at their school. I loved the kids and made real connections with them. That year, I was offered a full-time substitute position and it was life-changing. 

As a social scientist, I realized how much I could reach the future in this position and wanted to pursue obtaining my teaching certificate so I could stay in the classroom.  I went through the alternative route to obtain my certification, and I have not looked back. 

Who were some of the most influential teachers that you had growing up? What made them have an impact on your life? 

In high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Centella, introduced me to my first pen pal in Africa. She taught me that writing was far more than just testing. I fell in love with writing thanks to my ninth-grade teacher. 

In college, I had an undergraduate course in criminology with my favorite professor, Dr. D, and it challenged the way I looked at and approached everyday life. His instruction and the ways he taught me to look at the world was a critical turning point in my life. 

What are you most looking forward to this upcoming year?

This upcoming school year, I’m looking forward to seeing my fifth graders return for sixth grade and I’m looking forward to embarking on a new adventure with a great group of kids, co-workers and administrators. 

If you have a bad day, what makes you get up the next morning and be the best teacher possible?

If I have a bad day, knowing that I am that smiling face and stability that one of my students may need gets me up and ready for the day. 

How would a student best describe you?

I had a student this past year tell me that I am the nicest meanest teacher ever and that they love me! I’d like to think that means I’m fair. 

What was your journey to obtain your college degree? What school did you attend?

I attended the University of Maryland primarily in Japan. My undergraduate degree is in research social science. I began my graduate degree with a focus in cross-discipline research with NOVA university in Florida. My alternative route to teaching was with Teachers of Tomorrow. 

If you have previously taught, where did you teach and for how long?

This will be my fifth year of teaching. I taught at a charter school in Florida prior to moving to Michigan last summer. 

What do you do outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies? 

I love to coach cheerleading and dance. I also enjoy troop leading for girl scouts. Finally, anything that has to do with a beach makes me happy.

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