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Heneveld Makes Second Grade a ‘Magical’ Time at Vanderbilt Through Reading

For Becky Heneveld, teaching second grade at Vanderbilt Charter Academy is a special time for formative students because the reading light flickers at the beginning of the year and shines brightly when the school year reaches its conclusion.
Seeing kids transform so much in less than 12 months never gets old for Heneveld, who is an original teacher since Vanderbilt opened in 1996.
“Second grade is a magical year because it seems as though reading goes from sounds into words into paragraphs into expression by the end of the year,” she said. “I think it's just the love of reading for myself that I was able to share with them.”
 Becky Heneveld speaking to a camera.
WZZM recently honored Becky Heneveld as Teacher of the Week.

Heneveld grew up on the east side of the state and arrived in Holland for college and soon fell in love with the community. As Vanderbilt was opening, it was only kindergarten to fifth grade, and Heneveld said she didn’t know anything about charter schools. But once she arrived, it didn’t take long for her to establish a close-knit group of her own in Room 116.
“When they enter into my classroom, they become part of my family and I tell them that every day,” she said. “We call ourselves the 116 family. If you exit the room, if you go up to third grade, fourth grade, you’re still part of the room once you’re family. For me relationships are most important.”

Ms Heneveld with her students.Second grade students earned game time in Ms. Heneveld’s class.

The impact Heneveld has on students tends to stick with them. She recalled several years ago having a student who was having trouble reading, so she gave him extra exercises to work on at home and worked with him in class. Recently, she said she ran into him, he now oversees a section of admissions at Hope College.
“He came running up to me and he totally remembered me. He was like, you're the one that taught me to read,” she said. “Reading is fun and so when we do it in class, we practice it all the time. It’s a lifelong skill.”
 Becky Heneveld smiling
Becky Heneveld is an original teacher at Vanderbilt Charter Academy.

Heneveld recently was honored as a Teacher of the Week, but was quick to say that many Vanderbilt teachers are just as deserving as she is.
“We are all a team together,” she said. “It’s not just your second-grade year that’s the best. It’s all the way through eighth grade.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Heneveld!

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About Vanderbilt Charter Academy
Vanderbilt Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Holland, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Vanderbilt Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.