Meet Mr. Chad, Elementary Teacher – Zeeland
“It’s inspiring to see students connect to their world, both with each other and with the environment around them. It’s great to see them learn how to be flexible in their thinking and become more willing to try new things and go new places.”– Mr. Chad
Mr. Chad has worked at Innocademy for eight years, starting with middle school science at the Zeeland campus. He’s moved around since then, helping set up the Allegan Campus and then returning to Zeeland to teach an engineering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class. For the last two years, Mr. Chad has been teaching third grade science at Innocademy Zeeland.
Teaching runs in Mr. Chad’s family, but he didn’t start out following in his family’s footsteps. He was living and working internationally through a missions organization when he first considered education as a career. He was building a school in Tanzania when he realized a background in education would be a useful skill.
Each of his roles at Innocademy have involved hands-on engineering and teaching, encouraging kids to create projects out of their imagination using K’Nex, LEGOS and other materials. His students recently created models of Anishinaabe wigwams, a Native American home. They based the homes off of what they learned at the Outdoor Discovery Center. His classes have also built wind-powered machines using K’Nex, and designed sleds out of only cardboard and materials they had around the classroom.
Besides incorporating engineering and design into his lessons, Mr. Chad’s favorite part of teaching is taking his class on field trips. “We’ve been on around 20 already this year,” said Mr. Chad, “Mostly to neighborhood parks and other parks in the Holland/Zeeland area. We also go to Hope College and the Outdoor Discovery Center a lot. I really enjoy being able to bring my classes out of the school and into nature.”
Mr. Chad was teaching his STEM class during the pandemic, and he and the other specials teachers went on a lot of field trips on their own. They created a video series where they each explored their fields out in nature. They used the Outdoor Discovery Center’s Park Passport guide and activity sheet as a starting point and made 30 minute videos that tied back into their virtual lessons for the week.
Outside of class, Mr. Chad enjoys taking walks around the neighborhood and in parks with his wife. They also enjoy hiking, traveling and anything that takes them outside into nature.