Mr. Booy's Blog
“The Growing Hope – Together campaign has raised over $8.7 million in the Leadership Phase of the campaign! This amount brings The Potter’s House close to its original goal of $9 million for the first phase of the campaign. Among other needs, this included the completion of the new high school and gymnasium, which is scheduled to be finished by December 22, 2016!
There is much excitement as our attention is now focusing on the needs of our Elementary and Middle School. Thank you for playing such a pivotal role in the expansion and renovations taking place here at The Potter’s House. Today we thank God for His provision, and we thank God for YOU!
Prayerful and grateful,
Your friends at The Potter’s House
28th Street Entrance
Bus Parking and Exterior of Administration Offices
Front Doors – 28th Street Entrance
Interior of 28th Street Entrance – Corridor between Admin Offices and the Commons
The Commons – Facing South – 28th Street Entrance
The Commons – Facing North – Newport St.
The Courtyard – Facing South
The walkway to the Courtyard
On Monday, August 1, a brief mid-construction site tour was given. The buzz of excitement was contagious.
Please continue to pray that God’s vision for The Potter’s House is carried out successfully, that the construction crew continue to experience safety and swiftness in their work, and please be praying for our students, staff, and faculty as they prepare for another school year.
Please note, we are working on an event that involves the entire Potter’s House community and hope to reveal that soon.
These are exciting times.
When we are small, we all naturally look up to someone or something. We admire beauty and accomplishment, strength and humility. Here at The Potter’s House, our intention is to inspire our younger students to envision themselves as graduates, as future compassionate world changers. Ultimately, the goal is that they would grow to love and be like Jesus.
This year, The Potter’s House began a new tradition. On graduation morning, our seniors came to the Elementary/Middle school to walk through the hallways. They found themselves celebrated by rows of smiles and cheering students. It was especially touching to notice that many of our seniors walked in front of sisters, brothers, cousins, and children of family friends, waving and eager to give high-fives. This moving procession was joy filled and gave our youngsters a vision of their own futures.
The entire 2016 class graduated this year. This is no small achievement. In our local schools today there is little over a 50% chance that a student like ours will make it to graduation. In a world where heroes can be a bit challenging to find, we are proud that The Potter’s House staff and graduating students can be living examples, worthy of emulation.
Thank you to all of you who support The Potter’s House. You are also heroes. Our hope is that our alumni will follow YOUR example and be anxious to pour themselves into their future neighbor’s lives and communities.
A huge “Thank You!” to Rudy Malmquist (TPH Parent), for these fantastic photos of our procession!
This week, a few of our elementary/middle school students were honored at the debut of a new project called, Grand Poems in Rapid Transit.
Kate Staggs and Malachi Verwys are two of the six students honored. Their haiku will be placed inside 150 Rapid buses. Jacob Caballero, Lyvinia Anible, Julienne Sinzumunsi, Natalie Waalkes, Bethany Klop, Sofia Brinkerhoff, and Tori Jansma received honorable mention. Their haiku were mounted on posters and displayed at the kick-off event on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at The Rapids Central Station.
The project explained
The project was organized by Lew S. Klatt, Grand Rapids Poet Laureate and Associate Professor of English at Calvin College. He did it in collaboration with The Rapid, Grand Rapids Public Library, and the following schools and afterschool programs: Creative Youth Center, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities Cook Center, Living Stones Academy, Camp Blodgett Club at Alpine Elementary, and The Potter’s House.
Students participated in poetry workshops and each received a photo from the historical archive at the Grand Rapids Public Library that featured transportation in Michigan from the past 100 years. Students were asked to describe what they saw and they took those descriptions and turned them into haiku, which is a Japanese form of poetry that follows a 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable pattern.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our students. The next time you ride the Rapid, be sure to look for Kate and Malachi’s haikus.
Last Thursday, March 17, The Potter’s House middle schoolers, middle school faculty, and administration participated in a silent social justice march, honoring the legacy of César E. Chávez.
Who is César E. Chávez?
In order to understand the significance of this walk, it is important to reflect on what César Chávez stood for and the symbol that he is today. César was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union, UFW. The bulk of his activism focused on worker rights and made the largest waves from 1952-1976.
Chávez was an aggressive leader, but he balanced that with nonviolent means. His desire was to end the mistreatment and abuses experienced by farm workers. What Chávez did was make our nation take notice of this injustice. As a Mexican American, Chávez has become one of the best known Latino American civil rights activists. After his death he became a symbol of support for workers and for Hispanic empowerment based on grassroots organizing.
Activities the day of the march:
The César E. Chávez Social Justice march started at 11AM, and began at The Potter’s House school at the corner of Grandville SW and Van Raalte Dr SW. The march headed north to The Edge Urban Fellowship, at 735 Ritzema Ct SW.
While students only participated in the march, the rest of the participants continued their day with a community gathering at The Edge Urban Fellowship, featuring Pastor “PE” Troy Evans. State Board of Education member Kathleen Straus was also honored for her many years of dedicated service to education in the state of Michigan. The day ended with a unity luncheon at Maya Mexican Grill, 1020 28th St SW in Wyoming.
It’s always a great joy when alumni, on their own initiative, share with the school the impact that The Potter’s House has made in their lives. I would like to share a couple of recent statements from one of our former students, Kjh-Lajhni Sanford.
An excerpt from Kjh-Lajhni’s Facebook post:
“As I sit in the Detroit airport waiting for my flight to DC, I can’t help but think about the many people who have helped to get me to where I am today and helped to prepare me for the opportunities that I am getting ready to have. Some of the first names that come to mind are my many teachers at the Potter’s House (Miss Beth Vander Kolk, Mrs. Ritter, Mrs. Yeo, Mrs.Hudgins-Jones, Miss Betsey, and many other support staff, teachers, and my sponsor Dr. Abiade) who encouraged me to do my best in everything, to reach out for help when needed, how to give a firm handshake, and to find the beauty in the trial.”
|Kjh-Lajhni’s grateful post was followed up by an extremely thoughtful, and much more detailed letter, reflecting on her time here. Read on:
“I attended Potter’s House K-9. During my time there I was dealing with understanding what it meant to have divorced parents who are remarrying and having kids. It was a stressful time for me and I never fully understood the adult world. The teachers that I had, from Mrs. VanderArk to Mrs. Sisco, and everyone in between, all took their time to see me as more than just the student with the weird name. Most of the teachers that I encountered in my time at Potter’s House taught me small lessons that completely changed my world, and I still find those words to be what keeps me standing in times of stress and need.
For example, Mrs. Ritter would always tell me, “It’s not the end of the world” and this morning while flying to DC, it felt like my world was ending because of the extreme changes I was getting ready to make in my life.
As I scoured for new places to apply I would remember Mrs. Jones telling me “You’re thinking too hard.” It was in this memory that I knew that God already knew where I was meant to intern I just had to follow his guidance and within days I received my internship placement.
One of the most important lessons that I learned at Potter’s House was how to give a handshake and have the confidence to look someone in the eye. This lesson has carried me through the many jobs that I have had, and set me apart in interviews from other candidates.
I am to this day an excessive planner, but now I know that my plans will only work so long as they align with God’s plan for me. I know that the work the teachers do at Potter’s House is not in vain, and I am always willing to stake claim to my time at Potter’s House. I learned so much that has brought me so far. A few moments ago I was talking with my Grandmother (who has been my sole legal guardian since I was 4) about my time at Potter’s House. We both agreed in saying that Potter’s House made me who I am, with the values that I have and that is the greatest gift a school can offer. But the best thing is that The Potter’s House doesn’t take the credit, instead they give it back the mighty creator who allowed for these experiences to occur. My time since Potter’s House has been as bumpy as it was before, but I lean on the lessons and guidance that the teachers of The Potter’s House gave to me.”
When I think of Kjh-Lajhni, I always think of her vivacious personality and I think of her grandmother who worked endless hours volunteering at the school. Today Kjh-Lajhni is a senior at Calvin College studying International Relations. She will be completing her degree in May. We are proud of Kjh-Lajhni and are grateful for the time that she took to look back and give such kind and thankful words for our teachers and school. She informed us that she will be looking for employment with a non-profit, or an organization that works with children who come to the US illegally. We have no doubt that she will do well, whatever path she takes.
Pull out your cell phone, tape a 10-90 second video and send it in to: email@example.com!
WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO DO THIS?
Your videos will encourage our teachers and staff, and as time goes by, we will also use these videos to be an encouragement to our donors, and to spread the word about The Potter’s House. You may be invited to share your story at one of our banquets! We are proud of you, and it will be very meaningful to us to know what and how you are doing.
WHERE SHOULD I FILM IT?
Please videotape yourselves at your place of business, preferably in your work attire. I.e. in front of your building, in the neighborhood that you serve, in your home, wherever you are spending most of your time.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY?
Please tell us:
What you are doing now
How do you think The Potter’s House has helped you to serve God and society to your fullest potential
We are SO excited to hear from you all!
Ready, set… Go Pumas!
*(disclaimer: many phones need videos to be less than 25MB to send, so if the video is high quality, it may need to be closer to the 10-20 seconds, rather than the 90…unless you can export your video to a lower resolution to make it a smaller file size)
Please send us your videos by:
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”Mother Teresa
For more than a decade, The Potter’s House school has celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year four former students returned to participate on an alumni panel at the high school. I was struck by the way some seemingly small things had resonated with these students during their time here at The Potter’s House. I heard each one recall moments in their schooling that had changed them and sometimes it was as simple as a handshake, someone giving them the powerful gift of being known, or taking the time to give wise counsel.
Assoumani Iyakaremye came to The Potter’s House in the seventh grade. He told our students that he had been looking for a positive place to fit in, and on the second day of school I memorized his name. He shared that it had made a huge impact on him. I am encouraged when I see how God can take the little things we do and make them matter. It took a little extra time to be intentional and practice his name but looking back it was well worth it to know that it made Assoumani feel “welcomed.” He went on to tell our current students that if they want to strengthen their walk with God they should listen to the advice that the teachers are giving them…”these teachers really do care about your life.” Hearing words like that, from a former student solidifies a teacher’s call as they continue to give their time and hearts to their students on a daily basis.
Now, long after the handshake, and hearing their names, and the advice, they carry those things into the next chapter of their lives. After graduating high school in 2011, Assoumani made his way to a local Christian college and he will graduate this spring. We were thrilled to hear that he and his testimony is being used by God to make an impact at Bethany Christian Services Refugee program where he now works. Friends, be encouraged, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
The next time you walk through the halls at The Potter’s House, look closely. There are many academic, spiritual and emotional enhancements that often go unnoticed and unheralded.
This morning, Cornerstone University students tutored some of our youngest readers. The literacy tutoring program is coordinated by Beth VanderKolk. She is a Cornerstone University professor specializing in teaching reading. Beth is especially dear to The Potter’s House family because for many years she was our first-grade teacher. During tutoring sessions today she had some tremendously affirming words to share, and I would like to pass them on to you.
She said, “I bring my students to The Potter’s House school for several reasons:
#1. Because of the high quality reading instruction that’s happening here. It’s good for them to see that modeled.
#2. So that my students can walk into The Potter’s House school atmosphere that’s been bathed in sacrifice and given to God.
#3. So that my students can experience not only what quality teaching looks like intellectually but also the spiritual and emotional piece. At The Potter’s House school there is a belief in the whole child as well as a high level of academics.
#4. My student teachers have such a great experience with each student. Over and over again students come back to me and say, ‘It was such a good experience to work with a child that is so eager to learn and is in a place that supports their academic success.’”
We were so pleased to hear these words from someone of her caliber and perspective. Learning opportunities like this one add an integral piece to each child’s opportunity to succeed. We want to thank Cornerstone University, Beth VanderKolk and her students for partnering with our young readers here at The Potter’s House! Thank you for being a blessing to us!