When Arlan and Elaine Memmelaar began teaching at Calvin Christian in 1974, there were only 8 faculty members. Now, forty years later, there are 58 faculty members. Arlan spent those years in the classroom, initially teaching 4th and 5th grade but soon switching to junior high. Elaine taught music part-time for four years and then left to raise three kids and work at Westminster Seminary. In 1990, she returned to teach 4th grade, which she has continued to do ever since (with the occasional 3rd/4th and 4th/5th combo classes).
The hundreds of students who learned history from Mr. Memmelaar remember him for his sense of humor, cheerful morning greetings, vast historical knowledge, and willingness to help students outside of class time. They may also recall his geography quizzes, veteran interviews, the annual Knowledge Bowl, his involvement in the magazine campaign, and the Geography Bee. Some students also took the opportunity to explore the nation’s capital under the experienced guidance of the Memmelaars. Together, the Memmelaars have led over a dozen trips to Washington D.C. for 7th and 8th grade students.
Whether it was for 4th grade or music, students of Mrs. Memmelaar remember her patience, encouragement, and creativity. Many students enjoyed filling the jelly bean jar to earn movie parties, making fun and unique art projects, memorizing the books of the Bible, competing in Accelerated Reader, and taking field trips to the Ramona pageant, Birch Aquarium, and San Luis Ray Mission.
During their years at Calvin, the Memmelaars have seen many changes. The campus expanded to include a high school, a gym, new sports fields, and eventually a preschool. Technology has changed too. They switched from mimeographs, typewriters, and chalkboards to copiers, projectors, computers, whiteboards, document cameras, and a variety of on-line programs. Students are different as well. With a change in culture, present-day students often come from smaller families, have lived in more places, are less likely to have farm experience, and carry more individual electronics. (In earlier years, the Memmelaars never had to worry about students texting during class!)
But some things have remained constant. In reflecting on their years at Calvin, the Memmelaars draw attention to the faithfulness of God in preserving the school’s firm foundation. They enjoy witnessing His hand establishing generations of Calvin families and bringing new families into the school community. The Memmelaars have seen the school in times of struggle and in times of flourishing. Yet through it all, they testify to the Lord’s provision, saying, “It’s all His work.”
After many years of teaching, the Memmelaars have decided to retire. They look forward to traveling to see family, especially the out-of-state grandkids. Along with completing some projects at home, they are considering short-term service opportunities. They plan to continue living in the area and attending Calvin events. Thank you, Arlan and Elaine Memmelaar, for your years of faithful service!