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Elementary buildings welcome author with art, words of belonging

Northview — They could choose to be a cart pusher, a taper or a holder, and no matter which they chose, all had a role in the effort. All belonged.

That’s what five fourth-graders learned recently as they helped art teacher Amy Tefft line the hallway walls of East Oakview Elementary with what will be some 400 pinwheels made by students and staff.

Decorated in one of the five colors students are assigned to in Tefft’s class, on each pinwheel square was a word the artists thought best described their school.

Words like “learning, love, hope and positive thinking,” said Persayah Mayberry as she took bites of a bologna and cheese sandwich before taking to the hallways.

“One of the words is community,” said Vanessa Yonkers. “It means, like, working together.”

The pinwheel project and display was in preparation for a visit to the district this week from Illinois children’s book author John Schu. His most recent book, “This Is A School,” features pinwheels throughout and is centered around the theme of school as a place of belonging.

Belonging is a focus district-wide this year, so “this book lends itself perfectly to building community within our schools,” said Kurt Stroh, one of the three elementary librarians in the district who organized Schu’s visit.

Stroh said Schu also planned to lead a professional development session for elementary staff.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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