A 'student' reflects

Your Editor’s Desk “Prof and Student” (spring 2017) resonated with me. First, the influence of a teacher with a student is very powerful, and I was happy to read about the work of Kevin den Dulk (political science) as he and I were roommates our senior year. And I know of the influence of my buddies Jeff Winkle (former Classics) with his interim trips to Greece, and the passion Steve Staggs (history) brings to his teaching and work with students.

Second, your concluding story about your own son and his professor from eight years ago caused me to reflect. You see, this spring marks 25 years since my graduation from Calvin, and on most days something about my Calvin experience still crosses my mind. Many of these professors from my time have retired, but their influence is lifelong. I recently emailed Dr. Gary Schmidt (English) looking for recommendations for a “One Book, One School” title. Mrs. Pat Oostenink (education) upon completion of student teaching gave us tiny rubber ducks to remind us to “keep our ducks in a row.” These ducks (and her encouragement) have followed me in many classrooms and offices, even to this day. Dr. Yvonne Van Ee (education) and I exchange cards and updates at Christmas. Dr. Arden Post (education) and I recently spoke on the phone. I was stunned when she recalled not only the school where I had my first practicum, but also the name of the teacher with whom I worked, 28 years later. With Dick Wilkins in the PE equipment room is where I worked for four years, making popcorn and selling pop at basketball games, and where many great friendships developed. Dr. Jan Koop (mathematics) modeled for me and drew out in me a passion for math education. I could go on very easily.

Third, you write about the “countless conversations with prospective families.” I am reminded that at some point during orientation, my mom had the opportunity to speak with Chaplain Dale Cooper, who gave her reassurance that she spoke of for years to come.

The influence of my professors— professionally and spiritually—cannot be measured. I am who I am; I think the way I think; my passion for my work and my work ethic are results of my time at Calvin. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to attend Calvin.

Tim Bickhart ’92
Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

More balance, please

I am not sure if the problem I am writing about is normally the case and I just did not notice before, or if this is a one-time problem with this issue (summer 2017). Could someone please explain to me sincerely and honestly (no lame excuses, please) why there are twice as many men pictured in this issue as women? I would imagine current enrollment is about 50-50 or even tipped in favor of female students. If I find back copies of the Spark, I will take a look to see if this is normally the case, as I suspect. This is 2017. Please make a bit more effort in this area.

Sarah Lawrence ’03
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

You are accurate in your assessment. The issue was heavy on male-oriented subjects. Every issue is a kind-of jigsaw puzzle, with elements coming from many sources. Sometimes intended stories don’t work out and a replacement must be found. An initially intended balance or issue construction doesn’t always pan out. While there may occasionally be an issue that weighs heavier on one side or the other, we are confident that over the course of a year’s issues we will achieve the intended balance. We thank you for holding us accountable in this area and will use your comments to do our best to equally herald all achievements from alumni and alumnae.


Remembering Jack

The notice of professor Jack Wiersma’s death in the Spark (summer 2017) brought back some very fond memories. Jack Wiersma was my grade eight teacher at East Edmonton (Alberta) Christian School in 1960. He was the first teacher I ever had who inspired me to learn. I remember that Jack brought his own microscope to school and through it I first saw live amoebas and paramecia. In 1967, with the echo of Jack’s enthusiastic teaching still in my memory, I graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in biology. Jack’s exemplary teaching also motivated me to want to become a teacher. After a number of years of classroom teaching and a doctorate in education, I became an assistant professor of education at The King’s College (now University) in Edmonton. I will miss Jack Wiersma, who will certainly be warmly welcomed into eternity by our Lord with a resounding “well done, good and faithful servant.”

-Bob Bruinsma
Edmonton, Alberta