New Partners in Service
We are pleased to announce that we have five new individuals joining us in our work of creating inclusive communities for persons with varying abilities. These five individuals include four new Board members and one new teacher consultant. We invite you to get to know our new Board and staff below:
New Board Members
Dan Day, Director of Advancement at Ada Christian School, states:
“I’m passionate about inclusion for a few reasons. First, I had a cousin with Down syndrome who recently passed away. Sue Anne taught me and countless others the value of including all of God’s people in all aspects of life. Secondly, I’ve seen inclusion work in classrooms where I’ve served as administrator, both in Grand Rapids Christian Schools as well as Holland Public Schools.
Inclusion works, it benefits both the student with special needs and fellow classmates. We truly reflect God’s world when we include all.
I hope that I can make a contribution to the sustainability of All Belong. Hopefully my experience as a school administrator and development director will help shape decisions that will be helpful and necessary in the coming years. I’m excited about the clear vision, mission and strategic plan recently completed. To implement that effectively will require many hands and minds along with God’s guidance and blessing.”
Steve Huisjen, Chief Financial Officer at Dan Vos Construction, shares:
“My daughter, Jessica, is 14 years old and has Down syndrome. She attends All Belong Member, Dutton Christian School, and has been in inclusive education since starting Dutton Christian in pre-kindergarten.
Jessica thrives in the classroom with her classmates. They love her and she loves them right back. Jessica has excelled socially, academically, and emotionally due to inclusion. The genuine friendships that she has (due to inclusion) are beyond anything I dreamed possible; it’s truly an amazing thing to witness.
I recently joined the All Belong Board in order to help sustain and promote inclusion and support the organization in any way that I can. I have been in public and private accounting for over 25 years and have been privileged to serve on several non-profit boards during that time. I hope to be able to put that experience to good use on All Belong’s Board and look forward to the challenge.”
“I believe that as Christians we are called to create communities that support and celebrate the gifts of persons at all levels of ability. It is incredible to see the ways in which our schools and churches reflect the Kingdom of God when all members learn, worship, and serve together as inclusive communities. I look forward to serving on the Board and working with the All Belong team members who are so passionate about developing communities of belonging in our schools and churches.”
Kevin Timpe, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, shares:
“We discovered just how important inclusion is when we realized that our son’s previous school district was violating state and federal law in its treatment of disabled students. We formed a non-profit advocacy company to fight for him and other students.
Since moving to Michigan and having our children enrolled in a All Belong partner, we’ve seen just how good a robust inclusion program is for all the students at that school.
I’m looking forward to working with schools with a vision for inclusion, rather those that try to integrate begrudgingly or only upon threat. I’d love to be able to learn from All Belong’s vision and help expand it to those schools that I’ve had to advocate against in the past, to help them taste and see that inclusion is good for the entire school or church community.”
New Staff Member
Brenda Maas, recently joined our staff as a Teacher Consultant. Brenda says:
“I am passionate about inclusion because…
- Inclusion is at the heart of Christ and the Scriptures.
- Embracing inclusion opens doors for the Church to really exemplify and celebrate the body of Christ.
- It changes lives by bringing purpose, joy, and fulfillment.
An inclusion mindset should be the goal for every missional Christian. We must be determined to view each individual through the eyes of our Heavenly Father and to live a committed life of service following the example of Christ. I desire to challenge All Belong partners to declare together as All Belong Member Schools that we daily rely upon the power of God’s Word and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to fulfill this challenge to raise a Godly standard in special education.
Inclusion offers an opportunity for the community of faith to practice our core belief that every individual is uniquely created by God with both strengths and challenges for specific kingdom purposes.
These are best expressed and developed within the context of the body of Christ as indicated in God’s Word:
“But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body…But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (I Cor. 12:18, 19, 24b-26).
I truly believe that each individual that God brings to our Christian schools–regardless of their particular profile of strengths and challenges–is called to be an active member of the community of faith, to God’s glory.”