Testimonials: Faculty & Staff

As a coach I have the privilege of watching our players set the standard for sportsmanship as they remain competitive in league standings with mostly public schools. When they invite opponents to pray together after games, I believe I am witnessing the transformation of a sports crazed culture that puts too much emphasis on winning and self glory, and not enough on respect, humility, and using sport to bring glory to God.

  • Barry Veenstra
  • Athletic Director & PE Teacher

Barry Veenstra

Athletic Director & PE Teacher

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
The Christian community and common sense of purpose.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
After spending 7 years in the world of sales and marketing out of New York, in which the only goal and reward had to do with profit margin, becoming a teacher brought the sense of purpose and fulfillment that had been missing in my life.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
I cannot imagine teaching topics like personal health and fitness, exercise science, human sexuality, stress management, nutrition, or character education from any other perspective. To omit God and faith in Christ from the discussion would be to teach only a partial truth.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I am passionate about music and enjoy using/referencing it often in class.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
Frankly, they are the type of kids I wanted my children to spend their formative years surrounded by, and are a big part of why my wife and I sacrificed to send four to EC from pre-K through high school.

The Eastern Christian tagline is “Engaging. Nurturing. Transforming.” How do you accomplish this in your role at EC?
As a coach I have the privilege of watching our players set the standard for sportsmanship as they remain competitive in league standings with mostly public schools. When they invite opponents to pray together after games, I believe I am witnessing the transformation of a sports crazed culture that puts too much emphasis on winning and self glory, and not enough on respect, humility, and using sport to bring glory to God.

 

I have been impressed with this school system from all angles–as a student, a parent, and now most recently, as a teacher. The school embodies what I believe it means to be a Christian learning community. Not only is a biblical worldview infused through curriculum and activities, the school staff is a loving, caring group of people who truly work with excellence in mind.

  • Leah Genuario
  • Teacher

Leah Genuario

Teacher

What do you teach at Eastern Christian School?
I teach journalism, yearbook and essay workshop. I’m also the Herald editor.

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I have been impressed with this school system from all angles–as a student, a parent, and now most recently, as a teacher. The school embodies what I believe it means to be a Christian learning community. Not only is a biblical worldview infused through curriculum and activities, the school staff is a loving, caring group of people who truly work with excellence in mind.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I enjoy investing in the lives of younger people and see it as a ministry. I have found much joy in my prior profession as a journalist, and it is exciting to cultivate those gifts in others. I would like to be a teacher who encourages students to recognize their God-given talent and spurs them on to strengthen those skills.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
Our Christianity should inform everything we do. That means we work with excellence, examine if our topics educate and inspire, and seek to treat our interviewees with dignity and respect. As part of student journalism training, we look at business ethics models, as well as examine article topics in the light of Philippians 4:8. It is very important to me that our students understand that our Christian faith comes into play in everything we do–whether it’s double-checking the spelling of a name because we would want our name to be spelled correctly, all the way through putting in extra effort to build a case for the historicity of Jesus in our investigative reporting unit.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I think I’m unique in that I worked in the field I now teach in.

The Eastern Christian tagline is “Engaging. Nurturing. Transforming.” How do you accomplish this in your role at EC?
Engaging the mind–Better writing, interpersonal and layout skills!

Nurturing the spirit–Recognizing and affirming the talents I see. Treating every student as a valued student and encouraging everyone to excel.

Transforming the World–Focusing on article topics that elevate conversation.

I want my students to see God more than anything. If they cannot learn compassion from their role models who they are with more than any other adult in their life right now, then I am not doing my job. Of course, I want them to stay out of debt and in literature of course! I want them to love challenges and learning.

  • Dawn Heerema
  • High School Finance and English Teacher

Dawn Heerema

High School Finance and English Teacher

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I love that the adults’ role models are extensions of the home. Their personal attention and love goes beyond the classroom. Academics are still varied, and the schools offer a mixture of ability and options. It is small enough that no child is lost in the mix.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I was a parent first, and I saw the care and nurturing offered by the staff to each child. I appreciated the strides to maintain academic rigor as well.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC? 
With literature, there are many opportunities to present a Christian Worldview from character standpoints such as Atticus Finch, and analyzing him in a context of a Godly father or professional lawyer. In my finance class, we always take biblical perspectives in our studies. My essential question for the class is “What are you doing with the Father’s resources while He is away?”

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
When studying literature, worldview is a key component in developing Christ-like compassion. I really enjoy teaching this and applying it to the class setting. I do not feel our job is done until the child is transformed even a little bit after being in my classroom.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
Oh, the list is endless. They have hope. They are more content with who they are and what they have. They see the world as a limitless place that exists outside of their own world due to mission opportunities and life-learning. “It isn’t about them.” Of course, these are blanket statements, but I do promise that the climate of the halls compared with that of my previous teaching assignments in public schools is very different. Appearances are more streamlined and not glaringly inappropriate. The children have a warmness that comes from God and it transcends those awkward years of adolescence. At the younger schools, they are accepting of their faith and are so vocal about it, which is a joy to hear! Even the music that I hear on iPads or the little ones singing on the playground is not offensive, which is a telling sign of the success EC has with transforming this generation and not forcing them to conform to the ways of the world. Many of the parents have said, EC is worth every penny. I would agree.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I want my students to see God more than anything. If they cannot learn compassion from their role models who they are with more than any other adult in their life right now, then I am not doing my job. Of course, I want them to stay out of debt and in literature of course! I want them to love challenges and learning.

We encourage students to identify and take hold of their unique GOD given gifts so that they can use them towards a positive transformation both locally and globally.

  • Jesse Wright
  • High School Art Teacher

Jesse Wright

High School Art Teacher

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
It is an extremely gifted, giving, and well-disciplined faith-based environment where you can focus on dynamic and exciting projects.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
Each year while running a web and graphic design business (along with pursuing an art career) I was offered a job teaching the things that I love yet I always said, ‘NO THANKS.’  Following an intense spiritual re-awakening while working in the mission’s field I realized that the teaching offer was more than ‘summers off, salary and a dental plan.’ The call to teach was a charge to pass on to others the skills that others had blessed me with. Skills that have allowed me to travel the world, raise a family and, hopefully, contribute to society. I made a promise that if GOD re-offered a teaching opportunity for 30 seconds, 3 weeks, 30 years, whatever, I would take it. So far so good.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I strive to maintain a footprint in the fields that I teach on a professional level outside of my teaching commitments. As teachers, it’s important for us to continue to learn if we are to be effective teachers.  I hope my interest, growth, and enthusiasm will spill over to the students. I hope to equip students with industry standard market ready skills…with a little extra edge!

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
We have an amazing Mission program where students can travel and serve in places like Uganda, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, Guatemala and Boston.

The Eastern Christian tagline is “Engaging. Nurturing. Transforming.” How do you accomplish this in your role at EC?
We encourage students to identify and take hold of their unique GOD given gifts so that they can use them towards a positive transformation both locally and globally.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I hope students would gain the skills of observation and discernment regardless of their chosen field so that they will invest their talents in worthwhile questions and efforts.

Please provide any additional information about you:
I don’t know if there’s enough coffee out there to help keep up with all of the exciting activities!

I have the bonus of being a teacher at Eastern Christian and a mother of two Eastern Christian students, and through these two perspectives I see God’s faithfulness to our school over the past 100+ years. To hear my daughters talk about their teachers, friends, and classes with a big smile on their faces is a blessing to me and my husband because we value the Christian perspective that is taught in every aspect of their school day...

  • Liesl Botbyl
  • Middle School Teacher

Liesl Botbyl

Middle School Teacher

What do you teach at Eastern Christian School?
I teach 7th and 8th Grade Science.

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
Faculty that is devoted to their jobs, parents that sacrifice much so their children can get a Christian education, a community that cares for each other and is focused on one common goal.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I have the bonus of being a teacher at Eastern Christian and a mother of two Eastern Christian students, and through these two perspectives I see God’s faithfulness to our school over the past 100+ years. To hear my daughters talk about their teachers, friends, and classes with a big smile on their faces is a blessing to me and my husband because we value the Christian perspective that is taught in every aspect of their school day; in the classroom, at school functions, and on the sports fields. I remember one of my first years teaching at the elementary school and having chills run down my spine when I heard the way those kids sang their little hearts out in chapel each week. And now as a middle school teacher, I get tears in my eyes each graduation when I realize just how much our students have grown physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. No other job I would ever want would bring me that kind of joy! To be a part of the teaching staff where I grew up is a real blessing to me; an opportunity to give to my students what my teachers gave to me, a safe, loving, school community where we strive to be learners of this world God created for us.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
There are many topics in the subject of Science that can be argued by Christian and non-Christian scientists, and it is so important that our students can use their faith to explain the work of an awesome and powerful Creator. Taking time to be in wonder and awe of every detail of science is an important part of my classroom perspective. From the microscopic cell that first formed us, to the expanse of the universe where we will never understand the importance of being stewards of God’s creation, are some of my favorite concepts to discuss with students.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I struggled as a student in the sense that I had to work hard for my grades and I try very hard to make sure that every student in my classroom has the potential to do their very best and to feel successful throughout the year.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
While they certainly aren’t perfect, and middle schoolers are certainly the typical teenagers, our kids truly are caring and loving. They welcome new students to their class, they enthusiastically serve in the community and they desire to spread God’s love to the world.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
While I certainly want my students to gain a better understanding of the science world, I think there are more important things that I can teach them while teaching them science. I pray that I can be a role model to all of my students in the way that I chose to live my life, exhibiting the fruits of the spirit from day to day. The grades they get in my class won’t really matter in the long run, but the “skills” they need to be Christ’s disciples are much more important as they grow up and interact with the world around them.

I love that I don't have to hide my faith. Rather, I can let them know that God created an amazing world and that math is everywhere in His wonderful creation! I love that all of the teachers are committed Christians and we can hold each other up in prayer during good times and hard times.

  • Cindy Flim
  • Middle School Math Teacher

Cindy Flim

Middle School Math Teacher

What do you teach at Eastern Christian School?
7th grade math, 8th grade pre-algebra, and 8th grade algebra

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I love that I don’t have to hide my faith. Rather, I can let them know that God created an amazing world and that math is everywhere in His wonderful creation! I love that all of the teachers are committed Christians and we can hold each other up in prayer during good times and hard times.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
God brought me here. I was in a transitional time in my life, going back to college for my second degree in math. Since I eventually wanted to be a math teacher, I came to ECMS looking for part-time work as a substitute teacher while I finished my degree. Instead of being hired as a substitute, after a few interviews, I walked out with a full-time position teaching middle school math. God is good!

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
I emphasize that God made an orderly world and math can be seen in everything. There are patterns everywhere in creation. For example, Fibonacci’s sequence can be seen in the pattern on a pineapple, the spiral arrangement on a pine cone, the pattern of seeds in a sunflower, etc.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I love math and I love to play games. So, I want students to have fun while we learn about math. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner, so I am always looking for creative ways for students to see and touch math.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
EC students have teachers who are not only committed to the students’ academic growth, but they are concerned for the well-being of each student. We care about our students.

The Eastern Christian tagline is “Engaging. Nurturing. Transforming.” How do you accomplish this in your role at EC?
I hope that students continue to grow in their mathematical ability while they are in my classroom. However, many students say they “can’t do math” or “they will never be good at it.” I want to give them the confidence they need to be successful. Everyone has ability and everyone can learn, even if it is at a different pace than others. Also, I don’t want to see my students just as math students, but as a unique person who has many gifts. I want my classroom environment to be a safe place – that it is okay to make mistakes and it is a place to ask as many questions as needed to understand.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I want them to know that I love math and that I love to teach. I want them to see that learning math can be fun.

I love that at Eastern Christian the entire school day is centered around the Word of God, and that students are taught from the earliest age that God loves them, and has a plan for their lives.

  • Sarah Vander Wall
  • Preschool Teacher

Sarah Vander Wall

Preschool Teacher

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I love that at Eastern Christian the entire school day is centered around the Word of God, and that students are taught from the earliest age that God loves them, and has a plan for their lives.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I love teaching at Eastern Christian because I can use my gifts as a teacher to fulfill Christ’s command in the Great Commission to “make disciples.” It is a great privilege to play a part in leading young students to Christ.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
By the time students graduate from Eastern Christian school, they have been taught not just math, science, Bible, spelling and social studies, but how to be a follower of Christ in a broken world. EC students are prepared to take what they have learned and use it for the glory of God, and the advance of His kingdom.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I want my students to see that I strive in every way to be an imitator of God. I want my kids to see Christ’s love through me.
 

We have an awesome responsibility to teach our students 'in the way they should go', revealing God's wonderful world in all we teach. I want to be a part of that.

  • Rob Flim
  • Middle & High School Band Director

Rob Flim

Middle & High School Band Director

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I really appreciate the environment I work in. The administration and staff are very supportive of the music department. I especially appreciate working with the students in all the grade levels.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
We have an awesome responsibility to teach our students ‘in the way they should go’, revealing God’s wonderful world in all we teach. I want to be a part of that. Students and parents are generally supportive and encouraging towards the music department.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
Enthusiasm, energy, and excitement, is contagious and I try to present myself that way to my students. I try to be encouraging to my students, pushing them to keep going and to give their best.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
In general, EC students are aware that they are part of a caring community that desires to look at the interests and well-being of others. EC students are polite and respectful towards each other and to the faculty.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I want my students to discover and appreciate God’s amazing gift of music. I want them to enjoy music and to appreciate its role in their lives and in the world they live in.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I’m Canadian and love winter!

EC students come from homes with a shared desire to nurture young hearts in the faith. Though Christian homes may still struggle with the common problems and challenges of our times, the partnership we enjoy with parents creates a diverse student population with a common thread in the most important things.

  • Debra Veenstra
  • Elementary School Teacher

Debra Veenstra

Elementary School Teacher

What do you teach at Eastern Christian School?
Pre-K to 4th grade physical education and health.

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
I love the caring environment and common purpose shared by administration, staff and parents alike.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I am forever grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to send me to Christian school. My husband and I were privileged to do the same for our four children and I can think of no better place to use my gifts and passion to serve the children of our community.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
Emphasis is placed on seeing our bodies as God’s holy temple that we each have a responsibility to take care of for His glory, not our own. Play experiences are opportunities to demonstrate love for your neighbor through respect, love, and encouragement, as well as a means for developing physical gifts and talents that are pleasing to our Lord.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I love the elementary age group and see each student as a unique child of God with whom I can share my gifts and enthusiasm for leading a physically active and responsible lifestyle.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
EC students come from homes with a shared desire to nurture young hearts in the faith. Though Christian homes may still struggle with the common problems and challenges of our times, the partnership we enjoy with parents creates a diverse student population with a common thread in the most important things.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I hope they gain a desire and enthusiasm for living an active, joyful, healthy lifestyle!

I come to school each day hoping to model Christ as I teach my students from a Christian perspective. Each day the children inspire and teach me as well. Eastern Christian is a place where education is Christ-centered and God’s love is shown to His children. Everyday is a blessing.

  • Donna Hoogerhyde
  • Grade 4 Teacher

Donna Hoogerhyde

Grade 4 Teacher

What do you love about Eastern Christian School?
Eastern Christian is a God-centered school where teachers faithfully instruct students from a Christian perspective. Members of my family have attended the school for four generations, and I am honored to share in Eastern Christian’s mission.

Why do you like teaching at Eastern Christian? What motivated you to become a teacher at Eastern Christian?
I come to school each day hoping to model Christ as I teach my students from a Christian perspective. Each day the children inspire and teach me as well. Eastern Christian is a place where education is Christ-centered and God’s love is shown to His children. Everyday is a blessing.

How do you teach a Christian Worldview in your classes at EC?
I start the day with devotions, reminding the children that God is with us. He is with us as we study his world, the ‘magnificent theatre’ that we are called to learn about, care for, and enjoy. Throughout the day I am able to remind the children that ‘our world belongs to God’ and we study it from that perspective. In social studies, we remember that all people are created in God’s image and we embrace our differences and celebrate what we can learn from each other and other cultures. In science we are awed by the wonder of God’s world.

What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I like to role play historical characters. The students always enjoy when I step out of the classroom and return with a costume on, portraying someone from the past. The students are engaged and ask thoughtful questions of my historical character.

What sets EC students apart from students in other schools?
Each year the class of students becomes a family, a family of young Christians striving to learn more about God and how He would have us live. The children are compassionate and encouraging to one another. They help each other when they stumble, and applaud the efforts of their classmates.

What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I want my students to fall in love with learning, to be excited about their opportunity to learn about God’s world. I also want my students to see Jesus in me; I want to strengthen their faith.

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