[caption id=”attachment_2791” align=”aligncenter” width=”192”] Rennie VanderWal cuts a cake honouring her 28 years teaching at Belleville Christian School. (Photos by Troy Fallaise Photography)[/caption]
Rennie VanderWal celebrated at May 30 event
Belleville Christian School (BCS) honoured the retirement of Rennie VanderWal, who has been teaching at the school for 28 years, with an alumni homecoming and family fun fair May 30.
Principal Jennifer Richmond says VanderWal is a beloved teacher in the community and they wanted to host an event to celebrate her.
“Because she has a real heart for children, we thought she definitely won’t want to be the centre of attention that day, so let’s make kids the centre of attention and she can go along for the ride,” says Richmond.
Alumni and community members were invited to the event, which was also advertised through a group on Facebook. Approximately 250 people attended.
Grade 3/4 teacher Ben Luttjeboer has fun in the dunk tank.
Donna Jongenotter, a devoted parent whose children have since graduated the school, spearheaded organizing the event and securing sponsors for the tents. The fun fair included cotton candy, bouncy castles, games and a dunk tank.
At 1 p.m. a celebration service was held to honour VanderWal. The service included music, greetings from the Ontario Christian Schools Teachers Association (OCSTA), the presentation of an azalea bush from the board and a quilt the school commissioned for her.
The service also included something VanderWal does when her kindergarten students are graduating to Grade 1 — jumping over a rope. Retirees in attendance stood on one side of the rope and VanderWal jumped over it into retirement.
A scrapbook filled with greetings from principals was presented to her. A memory book is being worked on that will include photos from the celebration.
“They really blessed me and it was really moving,” says VanderWal of the event.
VanderWal, who has been teaching for a total of 37 years, says the day was both overwhelming and relaxing. She says she was overwhelmed from the love she received from the community and her own family. Three of her daughters who live in California, Florida, and Ohio surprised her by attending the event.
The day was also beautifully relaxing, she says, because the children had fun on the playground and it was a wonderful time of fellowship and talking with parents and children.
VanderWal says she has enjoyed seeing her students find joy in learning and seeing their daily accomplishments and applying the Bible to their own lives.
“I love the children and I love being with them and watching their enthusiasm, especially at the kindergarten level, they are so eager to learn,” says VanderWal.
VanderWal says she has enjoyed having an amazing staff to work with and serve together in community. She will continue to be a part of the BCS community and plans to volunteer regularly at the elementary school.
Richmond says throughout the day the feeling of community is what really touched people’s hearts.
“I think what was most significant about the day was how reflective everybody was in looking at the faithfulness of God,” says Richmond, adding the school has been in Belleville for 45 years.
Richmond says new, experienced staff members are coming to BCS for the next school year, and there is a sense of excitement for Christian education to grow in the city.
“We’ve made it through some lean years and there’s just a real sense of hope and expectation to see what God is going to do in our midst and further His Kingdom through Christian education in Belleville,” says Richmond.