Faculty, board, and committees

Reformed Heritage is a success because of the excellence of our faculty and volunteers. Our teachers love what they do: teaching standard curriculum to our covenant youth from a Reformed worldview. Learn more about them below!



Gayle Esman, 1st–3rd Grades Teacher
BA, Calvin College; MA, South Florida Bible College
Teaching experience: 39 years

I am Gayle Esman, and I have been in teaching for 30+ years. Anyone who does something for that long must really love it, and I do! God has given me the gift of loving other people’s children and, because of that, my life has been richly blessed.

As a child, I attended the Kalamazoo Christian Schools and went on to Calvin College. About 10 years ago, I received my master’s degree in Religious Education at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. For the past 37 years, I lived in south Florida where I met and married my first husband. He died 19 years ago. Four years ago, I met and married my present husband, John Esman, and moved back to Michigan, the most beautiful state in the Union! In my spare time, I like to read and take pictures of this beautiful place. I also play with my new puppy, Lindy.

A Bible verse that God has called my attention to in my teaching is Isaiah 30:23: “Then He will give you the seed which you will sow in the ground and bread from the yield of the ground and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture.” May this be a rich and plenteous year for us all!!



Sarah Gunst, Kindergarten
BA, Dordt College Teaching experience: 13 years—Elementary level;
5 years—Preschool level

I was born and raised near Seattle, Washington. I graduated from Dordt College (Sioux Center, IA) with a B.A. in Elementary Education and minors in English and Reading/Language Arts. My first teaching experience was at a Christian school in Walnut Creek, California where I taught 3rd grade for 7 years. I then returned to Washington and taught for 10 years at Rainier Christian School—the school I attended growing up. I taught Kindergarten there for 3 years, but I also taught 1st grade, 4th grade, and for 5 years in the preschool department.

I recently moved to Michigan to be close to family. I’m excited to be teaching at RHCS where I get to explain all the subjects from a worldview that understands that God is in charge of all creation. It’s wonderful to be a part of the joy that my Kindergarten students have in learning.

I enjoy reading and being part of a book club. I also like to spend time being involved with different church activities such as Vacation Bible School, a Bible Club for refugee children, and Bible study.



Andrew Koerner, High School & Junior High Language Arts
BA, Grand Valley State University
Teaching experience: 2 years

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI, where I graduated from Adams Christian School and Covenant Christian High School. I went on to study at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University, graduating from the latter institution in 2014 with a major in History and Secondary Education and a minor in teaching English. I love English and Bible, and I am excited to be teaching in these subjects this year. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve covenant parents and their children in a Christian school environment. My prayer is that the Lord may use me for His glory in this institution, and that the children might learn the fear of the Lord in every subject. “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13).



Luann LaRoy, Elementary Music, Choir Director
Associate's Degree, Kellogg Community College
Teaching experience: 31 years

My objective in teaching at Reformed Heritage Christian School is to broaden my experience and desire to teach music. In so doing, I also hope to give praise to my Lord and Savior. My goal is to teach the fundamentals of music theory and voice to help children learn and appreciate God's design in music and to develop skills in singing to the best of their ability. I also hope to instill an appreciation for well-written, Biblically-based sacred music with reverent tunes and meaningful lyrics realizing that God can use His Word in music to enrich the lives of Christians as well as bring unbelievers to Himself.

I am a graduate of Kalamazoo Christian High School and Kellogg Community College. I have an Associate's Degree in Nursing. My husband Jim and I were married in 1972. I left the field of nursing to raise our four sons. I homeschooled them for 13 years.

At an early age I showed an interest in playing the piano. Even though my parents had no musical training, they realized my desire to learn this instrument and acquired a teacher for me when I was four years old. I took lessons for 10 years. My musical experiences include being an elementary and high school pianist, choir pianist, piano teacher, and choir member. It also was my pleasure to provide dinner music at a local restaurant for one year. I have co-chaired VBS programs, Christmas programs, and choir camps. My greatest joy was to teach my sons to sing parts. I accompanied them when they sang as a quartet with their father at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, in church services, and at weddings.

What a privilege to sing a joyful new song, for "He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." –Psalm 40:3



Julie VandeGiessen, School Secretary
Associate's Degree, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Experience: 9 years

“Trust in Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5–6

I am very blessed to be a part of the faculty here at RHCS. I enjoy my job, and I love the students!

My husband John and I were married in 1995 and have been blessed with two children!
Our son and daughter are both students here at RHCS!

I am a graduate of North Christian Grade School, attended Kalamazoo Christian High School, and graduated from Gull Lake Christian School in 1991. I received an Associates Degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

I am a member at Second Christian Reformed Church. I am/have been involved in Children’s Sunday School, Choir, Song Service, Women’s Bible Study, Vacation Bible School, and Library.

I enjoy reading, gardening, baking, camping, playing games, and being organized.



David Vander Meer, Administrator
BA, Trinity Christian College; MS, Chicago State University
Certifications: State of Illinois Professional Teachers
Teaching experience: 14 years

I was raised in South Holland, Illinois, where I was the youngest of nine. I attended Calvin Christian Grade School and Illiana Christian High School. I then attended Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. After graduation I started my calling by working with young people as a physical education teacher in Homewood, Illinois. The fall after graduation from Trinity I met my wife Julie who was a student at Trinity.

While I was teaching in Homewood I was coaching both girls’ and boys’ volleyball at Illiana while taking masters courses at Chicago State University. After teaching for six years the Lord called me to be a youth director. I served at Cornerstone United Reformed Church (Hudsonville, MI) for 11 years. During those years I was able to be on the steering committee to form a youth organization called Reformed Youth Services and also to be on the steering committee to start Zion Christian School (Byron Center, MI). Currently, I am working on a masters degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. I believe that the Lord used these experiences in my life to help prepare me for my current calling as Administrator of Reformed Heritage Christian School where I have been serving since 2007.

The Lord has blessed Julie and me with three children. It has been a blessing to serve at Reformed Heritage.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. –Prov 3:5–6



Julie Vander Meer, 1st–3rd Grades Teacher
BA, Trinity Christian College; MA, University of Phoenix
Certifications: State of Illinois Professional Teachers; State of Michigan Professional Teachers
Endorsements: Learning and Behavioral Disabilities
Teaching experience: 11 years

I graduated from Trinity Christian College with a major in Elementary Education and minors in Special Education and Theology. I also received two approvals in Special Education: One for learning disabilities and the other was for Social Emotional Disorders. In the fall of 2008, I completed my Masters in Education from the University of Phoenix in Curriculum and Instruction. I continue my education through college courses and conferences.

I taught Special Education for three years and Art for a year. When my children were born I took several years off from the classroom. I did however have many opportunities to continue teaching in other areas. I was a youth group leader for about 12 years. I taught a 3–6 year old class for my church’s Wednesday night program and also taught and organized Vacation Bible School. I also taught Sunday school for a few years.

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attending both a Christian grade school and high school. I moved to Illinois to attend college and ended up living there for six years. I then moved to Hudsonville, Michigan, and lived there for 12 years. I now live in Kalamazoo. I have been married to Dave for 20 years and have been blessed with three children with ages ranging from 10–15. I am looking forward to a wonderful school year!

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. –Isa. 40:31



Christina Vergunst, High School & Jr. High Math & Science
B.Sc. in Mathematics and Biology from Victoria University in Wellington, NZ; teacher training at Massey University
Teaching experience: 1 year

I was born in the USA and spent the first few years of my life right here in Kalamazoo. In 2000, my father, who is a pastor in the NRC denomination, accepted a call to a congregation all the way out in New Zealand, and I spent the next fifteen years there, completing my high school and college education there. I graduated with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Biology from Victoria University in Wellington, NZ, in 2012, and then completed a year of teacher training at Massey University. I moved back to the USA in January, 2016, and am very thankful to have found a job at RHCS.

I think that Christian education is vital for the spiritual well-being of Christian young people, and I am blessed to be a part of the team that delivers that to them. I absolutely love both Math and Science, and hope that some of my enthusiasm will be transferred to my students throughout this year. I also enjoy reading, cooking, playing the piano, and playing board games of all descriptions with friends and family.



Jolene Westendorp, 4th–8th Grades Teacher
BA, Providence Christian College, concentrations in elementary education and social science
Teaching experience: 1 year

I was raised in Hopkins, Michigan on my family's dairy farm. I graduated from Zion Christian School in Byron Center, MI in 2012.I wanted to expand my horizons and attended Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California. I graduated from there in May of 2016 with a degree in the Liberal Arts and concentrations in Elementary Education and Social Science.

My husband Joel Westendorp is a farmer in Martin, Michigan. We were married on August 12, 2016.

This is my first year at RHCS and I teach 4th-6th grade in all content areas. I also teach 4th-8th grade Art & Computers, and I am involved in the school yearbook. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I have been given at RHCS. I get to work with great kids and teach them about how we see God in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

I enjoy writing, reading, learning, traveling, cooking, and baking, and spending time with my family and friends.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5.



Ann E. Barthelmess nee Haan, 1st–3rd Grades Aide
BA, Western Michigan University
Teaching experience: 9 years

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2016–17 School Board

Travis Gernaat, President
Matt Wykstra, Secretary
Doug Hoeksema, Treasurer
Tim Kloosterman
Doug Vlietstra

If you would be willing to help on any of the committees below, please speak to the chairman of that committee!

Building & Grounds Committee

Tim Kloosterman, Chair
Travis Gernaat
Henry Kalkman
John VandeGiessen (lawn only)
More Volunteers Needed!

Education Committee

Matt Wykstra, Chair
April Hoeksema
Tim Kloosterman
Lynelle Schreuder
Dave Vander Meer

Library Committee

Joyce Nagel, Chair
Dawn DeVries, when available
Julie VandeGiessen
Sarah Vlietstra
Amy Wykstra
More Volunteers Needed!

Hot Lunch Coordinators

Kathy Kloosterman, Menus/Forms
April Hoeksema, Finances
Karen Martin, Kitchen Supplies
Julie VandeGiessen, Intermediary

Fundraising & Promotions Committee

Doug Vlietstra, Chair
Bryan Kiel
Kathy Kloosterman
Karen Martin
Julie VandeGiessen
Amy Wykstra
More Volunteers Welcome!

Other Committees

RHCS has many behind-the-scenes helpers to make the school a special place to be. Volunteer committees include Moms-At-Work, Room Moms, Yearbook, Field Day, and Graduation committees.

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