Written by Stacey Hollebeek

Foundation: It’s not a cool word these days. You usually don’t hear it in daily conversations, and it probably won’t make it into elite marketing or progressive textbooks any time soon.

But it’s one of the main reasons Anita and Haans Mulder send their three daughters to Holland Christian Schools. Because they value the foundation of a Christian worldview that underlies every class and every learning strategy at Holland Christian, from learning how to read in kindergarten to AP art classes in high school.

“Christian education helps reiterate our values and beliefs that we try to teach at home,” Anita says.”Our house and church provide a foundation, but Holland Christian provides yet another layer that reiterates Christian beliefs to our children to prepare them for the world.”

But they also really value the teachers that their daughters have come to know and love:

It’s a blessing to know your kids’ teachers feel called to their jobs, they are just stellar people. We appreciate their dedication to educating our girls,” Anita adds. “They care for our kids—like when you get the email from your children’s teacher that says, ‘I’ve been praying for Annie over the summer.’ It means a lot to us to know someone else is caring/praying for our girls.”

The Mulders’ oldest daughter, Bebe, graduated in 2022 and is a sophomore at the University of Michigan, while Sylvie is a senior at HCHS planning to graduate in 2024 and will attend Calvin University this Fall. The youngest sister, Annie, is a 5th grader at Pine Ridge.

Both of her high school daughters thought their teachers were “very approachable,” Anita says. “They felt heard and respected as individuals, they felt known. Even the girls’ coaches have a spiritual perspective that they bring to coaching and team building.”

With a variety of learning abilities in the family, the Mulders have run the gamut of academic experiences at Holland Christian—from preschool to high school, with multiple AP classes and even an independent study for Bebe, to HC’s academic support programs for Annie, who is dyslexic. “We’ve felt so blessed with the help we’ve gotten for Annie—[teachers] really care and want the best for your student and are very approachable. If Annie’s having an issue, they’ll text me. The little things go a long way.”

“Dawn Baker in preschool noticed Annie could benefit from some extra help academically and told us—we are super appreciative they encouraged us to get Annie tested,” Anita adds. Plus, “I would love to give a shout out to Christy Haig and Lynae Stielstra who worked with Annie at South Side and Pine Ridge.”

The Mulders also appreciate the Christian perspective of Holland Christian, how students learn the same Bible stories in more than one grade level, but are learning them in developmentally appropriate ways. Plus they appreciate the practice of prayer at HC: “At a Christian school we pray—even in the middle of class, and even for the little things,” Anita smiles.

Bebe adds that she felt well prepared for the University of Michigan, especially since she was offered so many AP classes at HC, participated in MIFA for three years, and ran cross country all four. But she is especially appreciating the experiences she had with group assignments in her HC classes, as well as so many opportunities to create “relationships with teachers, how to approach teachers, talk to them, self-advocate,” she said, going on to describe the confidence she felt entering into a 500-student lecture at U-M, where “I and maybe 5 other kids talked,” such that the professor later said, “Oh, I remember you—you talked in class!”

Bebe also values the fellow HC alumni she has become reacquainted with at U-M, finding a church in Ann Arbor, thanks to an older fellow HC alumni she had remembered from 6th grade Science Olympiad and the HCHS cross country team. “It’s nice to have both— familiar faces and also to meet new people,” she says. Anita adds, “All of my girls have made quality friends [at HC] and we hope that some of these friendships will last a lifetime—you need those people in your corner!”

Although the Mulders do value the academics and the friendships they have found through Holland Christian, it still comes back to the idea of Christian education as a foundation for life: “Holland Christian is a reiteration of the values that we hold to be Biblical and Christian and important,” Anita finishes. “We are thankful to Holland Christian for preparing our girls for college and beyond. We feel better knowing that Bebe, at a large public university, was provided a Christian foundation from which to draw. We need Christians at secular academic tables. We need to show Christ’s love, to be the light, but also offer a Christian perspective to the world.”

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