Our network

NorthPointe Christian “Real-World” High School Program Completes First Year |

Title (Max 100 Characters)

NorthPointe Christian “Real-World” High School Program Completes First Year

Big Picture Learning, a new experience-based educational program at NorthPointe Christian, completed its first year and will begin its second year this August.  Twenty freshman participated in the pilot year of project -based learning and internships throughout greater Grand Rapids.


Program Director Bill Van Dyk spent forty-two years in education and kept asking “Is there a better way than the standard model, where many seniors leave without career direction and out-of-the-box learners fall through the cracks?”  He discovered other educators finding new models of learning and teamed up with NorthPointe Christian Schools this past year to launch the first Big Picture Learning (www.bigpicture.org) affiliate program in West Michigan.


The twenty students who make up the first cohort of Big Picture Learning at NorthPointe Christian spent two days a week doing real-world learning in a variety of internships and three days a week in curriculum where they have a voice and choice in their learning.  9th grade teacher Noel Hayden functions more as an advisor, providing students a menu of options in their learning and greater voice in how they demonstrate knowledge (as opposed to traditional testing). Kyle VanderZiel, for example, spent a significant part of the year interning in the IT department at Berger Chevrolet and spent class time taking apart and rewiring a computer.


Businesses throughout the greater Grand Rapids were essential to helping make this program come to life.  Frederik Meijer Gardens was one of the first businesses to host a NorthPointe student and connect them with professional mentors.  Jason Blok enjoyed working in their horticulture department: “With Big Picture Learning we get to learn things by doing projects and we know why we need to learn this for the real world. My internship at Meijer Gardens has given me new experiences and allowed me to meet new people.”   


Other businesses offering these internships and mentors were Our Daily Bread, Ada Hospital for Animals, and Koenes Auto Body Shop.


Bill Van Dyk looks forward to growing the program and offering more students the chance for a radically different high school experience.  He anticipates graduating students “with a more succinct understanding of their God-given gifts and with the ability to find concrete solutions to real world problems.”


Big Picture Learning at NorthPointe Christian Schools is still enrolling in 9th and 10th grades for the upcoming school year. Learn more at www.npchristian.org or contact Brittany Noll at 616.942.0363, nollb@npchristian.org to request more information.

Area businesses interested in learning more or hosting student interns may contact NorthPointe Christian Schools at: 616.942.0363.