Administration


Meet Our Team

West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics


Joanna Bennink

Director

MemberA

Tighe Carter

Assistant Director


Kindergarten

staff


Julia Chicoine

Julia Chicoine

Kindergarten

Jenn Wilthof

Jenn Wilthof

Kindergarten
jwilthof@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 202

I was born and raised in Spring Lake and I received my degree from GVSU. I have been Married to my wonderful husband Eric for three years, we live in Ravenna and enjoy boating in the summers and spending time at our cabin. I have been at WMAAA for three great years and look forward to many more. I am a morning kindergarten teacher and in the afternoons I am a preschool teacher. Currently I am attending GVSU for a masters in early childhood. Being a teacher is an honor and it has always been my dream!


Trisha Larsen

Trisha Larsen

Kindergarten
tlarsen@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 200

Hello! My name is Trisha Larsen. I have been a kindergarten teacher for 13 years. This is my second year here at WMAAA. I am looking forward to another great year at WMAAA. My experiences/training over the years in reading, writing, and inclusion has and will continue to help me be an excellent teacher. Over the summer, I like to keep busy with my three children. In my spare time, I teach tennis to children of all ages and play a lot of golf. I am very eager and ready for a wonderful and fun-filled school year with you and your child. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.



First Grade

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Georgeanne Larsen

Georgeanne Larsen

First Grade

Kendra Oele

Kendra Oele

First Grade


Second Grade

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Jordan Zubrickas

Jordan Zubrickas

Second Grade
jzubrickas@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 403

My name is Jordan Zubrickas. I feel so lucky to be teaching here at WMAAA! I love everything about the students, staff, and environment we have created together.

I grew up in Grand Haven and attended school there. I am a graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in elementary education, specializing in science. I teach both 4th grade science classes during the school year and I enjoy doing fun experiments!

I have one older sister that lives in Kalamazoo and parents that own a small business in Grand Haven. My husband Jon and I love living near the lake and we spend as much time as we can, taking advantage of this beautiful area! Family and friends are very important to us. I look forward to a career of amazing moments and tremendous growth here at WMAAA!


MemberA

Stephanie Huffman

Second Grade


Third Grade


Michelle Brydon

Michelle Brydon

Third Grade
mbrydon@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 106

Hi, my name is Ronda VanDop. I have been fortunate to be at this academy since the beginning in 1996. I taught a combination class of second and third grade the first three years of our school. I live 40 miles northwest of Spring Lake, between Holton and White Hall. My husband and I built our dream house on a 10 acre parcel. We live with our black lab, Jake, who is 3 years old.

I graduated from Aquinas College in the spring of 1995 with a bachelor degree in education. In August of 2004 I received my Masters Degree in Elementary Education at Western Michigan University.

I am married to Luke who is also a teacher in Grand Rapids. I have been blessed with two daughters, Maranda and Becky, a fantastic son-in-law, Jason, and I have a six year old granddaughter, Katelynne. My hobbies are camping, reading, traveling, and bird watching. I have recently taken up snow-shoeing and absolutely love it.

My passion is to make a positive difference in the life of each of my students.


Kendra Streng

Kendra Streng

Third Grade
kstreng@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 104

My name is Kendra Streng. I am originally from Grand Haven. After graduating from high school I attended Western Michigan University earning my degree in elementary education with math, science, and integrated creative arts minors. I am also certified to teach middle school science and early childhood classes. I have also attended Grand Valley State University where I earned my master's degree in reading.

I now reside in Grand Haven with my husband, Tom, and 3 sons, Jackson, Adam, and Jude. When I am not in school I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy playing the piano and running. This is my thirteenth year teaching at WMAAA. Since starting at the Academy I have taught 4th, 5th, and 3rd grade. I look forward to an exciting year and can't wait to get to know you and your child this year.



Fourth Grade

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Christie Suchecki

Christie Suchecki

Fourth Grade

Beth Lepley

Beth Lepley

Fourth Grade


Fifth Grade

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Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith

Fifth Grade  
msmith@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 406

Please click on the icon up there under my name to visit my classroom website!

After graduating from Grand Haven High School I began my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. I continue to be a devoted Spartan, but after two years in East Lansing I decided to move back to the lakeshore and complete my degree at Grand Valley State University. I am certified to teach K-6 elementary education as well as middle school language arts, and am currently working on a Masters in Educational Technology through GVSU. I have been part of the WMAAA staff since 2008, and feel blessed to work in such a wonderful environment. I live in Grand Haven with my husband Josh, daughter Addison, and step-children Joey and Audrey.


Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson

Fifth Grade

Jason Cooke

Jason Cooke

Fifth Grade  
jcooke@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 504

Please click on the icon up there under my name to visit my classroom website!

This will be my third year teaching at West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics and I am thrilled to start off the school year! I graduated from Grand Valley State University with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Elementary Education. In May of 2011 I was able to spend a month studying abroad in Tanzania, teaching Mathematics and English to Grades 4-6. In addition, I'm currently pursuing a GVSU Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. Some of my favorite summertime activities include traveling to northern Michigan, kayaking and spending as much time as possible with my family. Don't be confused by my last name change; I got married in October!



Sixth Grade


Jamie Lillibridge

Jamie Lillibridge

Sixth Grade

Derek Ottenbaker

Derek Ottenbaker

Sixth Grade  


Middle School

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Marilyn Nieboer

Marilyn Nieboer

Middle School Language Arts
mnieboer@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 601

I have been teaching middle school language arts at the Academy for over fifteen years. It's been a pleasure to work with these talented students in the smaller more personal environment we can provide.

I graduated from GVSU in 1997 with a bachelor's in language arts and a minor in education. My husband and I live in beautiful West Olive (just south of Grand Haven) with our three dogs and two cats! We have 4 adult children.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, walking, and gardening!


MemberA

Ben Langholz

Middle School Social Studies

MemberA

Rachel Hobeck

Middle School Math
rhobeck@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 605

Getting to Know Mrs. Hobeck...

This is my ninth year at WMAAA and my twelfth year teaching overall. I have taught a variety of subjects and grades throughout my teaching career, including fourth grade at Oakridge Upper Elementary in Muskegon, 8th grade math and 6th grade social studies at White Pines Middle School in Grand Haven, and 7th and 8th grade social studies at WMAAA.

I grew up in this area and attended Fruitport schools. I went to Hope College and received a degree in teaching and am certified to teach elementary school and social studies and math in the middle school. I also have a master's degree in Middle School Teaching from Western Michigan University.

I live in Grand Haven with my husband, Justin, and my son, Ryan, who will be attending kindergarten at WMAAA this year. I LOVE to read and enjoy camping and playing board games. Math has always been a passion of mine, and I am really excited to be teaching it at WMAAA!


Jeff Bretz

Jeff Bretz

Middle School Science
jbretz@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 607

My name is Mr. Bretz and I am the 7th and 8th grade science teacher. I have been here at the academy for 7 years (this will be my 8th year here); prior to that I worked for Hudsonville public schools for 2 years as an instructional aide and as a 7th grade science and English teacher. My undergraduate work was completed at Wayne State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Science Education with a minor in English, and currently I am working towards my masters in science education at Western Michigan University. I am always excited about teaching science here at WMAAA and I bring that enthusiasm to the kids.

Throughout the year, students will develop a sense of the scientific method through research, discussion and labs conducted in each unit. The topics of discussion come from a variety of fields of study, such as chemistry, astronomy, geology, physics, electricity, magnetism, and biology and Earth science. Science here at the academy is a multifaceted approach, including notes, book readings, in-class discussions and many hands-on activities to reinforce particular concepts. In order to reinforce each concept, lessons are designed to follow WMAAA curriculum, as well as guidelines set up the state of Michigan.



The Arts

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Lorraine Feenstra

Lorraine Feenstra

Music
lfeenstra@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 501

I graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a Language Arts focus in 1975. I raised my 4 children as a stay at home mom and private piano teacher. I attended and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education with a Vocal emphasis in 1999.

I started teaching at WMAAA as a long term sub and was hired full time in 2000. I love this school and for all it stands. The staff and students are a joy to work with every day.

I enjoy playing the organ in my church, going to our trailer in Ludington in the summer, reading and spending time with my husband and with my dog, Briley. Rob and I have 4 children and 6 grandchildren.


MemberA

Adam Weber

Band

Mandy DeBoer

Mandy DeBoer

Drama
mdeboer@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 503

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA but grew up in Kalamazoo, MI. I have two brothers who are both in education (one is an assistant principal and one is teaching at the college level). My mom, step dad, both grandmothers, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law were all teachers, so I guess it was meant to be that I would become a teacher too! I live in Spring Lake with my husband Pete, our dog Mumford, and our cat Goose.

I graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School (one year after Derek Jeter!) I then went on to earn my B.A. in Theatre and English at Ohio Wesleyan University. After many years of working in the theatre world, I decided to go back to school and attended Grand Valley State University where I earned my teaching certification.

Hobbies
In my free time I love to kayak, canoe, hike, go camping, or do anything outdoors! I also, of course, love to go see any theatre I can! This is my third year teaching drama at WMAAA. It feels like I've been here forever because this is such a home to me! I've been teaching drama since I was in high school, did my fair share of subbing for all grade levels, and also taught Young Fives at Gull Lake Community Schools for 2 years. Before going back to school, I lived in New York City and worked at the WPA, an Off-Broadway theatre, as a Production Assistant.

This is my absolute dream job! I never imagined that I would find a job that contained my two passions, theatre and teaching! And then not only to have my two passions combined, but to get to work with such an amazing and caring staff and to get to teach such talented students. It truly is a dream come true!


Heather Minnebo

Heather Minnebo

Visual Arts

Melissa Anys

Melissa Anys

Visual Art Teacher

MemberA

Danielle Oster

Dance
dkaye@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 505 (Office X 505)

Mrs. Fetterley's love of dance, movement, and exercise, combined with her adoration for children and love of teaching, makes her job at WMAAA such a wonderful, rewarding experience. She has been dancing for 28 years and teaching dance for 18 years. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Dance from Western Michigan University and her dance certification from Hope College. She enjoys taking dance classes, running, reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with friends and her family: husband, Jarrid, daughter, Chase and son, Jude.



Preschool Teachers

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Jessica Dwyer

Jessica Dwyer

Preschool Teacher
jdwyer@westmichiganacademy.org
616-844-9961 X 300

My name is Jessica Dwyer; I was born and raised in the Grand Haven area, graduating from Grand Haven High School in 1996. I have been happily married since 2003 and have two children, Nolan and Taryn Grace. I graduated from Baker College in 2002 with my Associates of Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. I am currently enrolled at Baker College working towards my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. In my spare time I enjoy camping, kayaking, reading and most of all spending time with family and friends. This is my seventh year working at WMAAA, I was a Teachers' Aide for the first three years and am currently teaching AM preschool with Stacie Ross. I love working at WMAAA because of the wonderful staff, the school's overall mission and the unique integration of the arts in the daily curriculum. I truly love my job and feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful school.


Laurie Beemer

Laurie Beemer

Preschool Teacher

Carly Yandell

Carly Yandell

Preschool Teacher


Support Staff

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Whitney Zillmer

Whitney Zillmer

Administrative Assistant

Heather Smith

Office Support

Liz Johnson

Administrative Services Coordinator

Kathleen Karpin

Kathleen Karpin

Title 1

MemberA

MaryAnn Dykstra

K-5 Special Education Teacher

Ashley Vlasak

Ashley Vlasak

Secondary Special Education

MemberA

Sarah Bruhn

Speech Therapist

(616) 844-9961

Get In Touch

We'd love to hear from you!


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