Excellence in Service Awards spotlights those making a difference in Grand Haven schools

Those who know Beth Bolhuis say her superpower is helping others to recognize and build upon their unique gifts and talents. 

The second grade teacher at Peach Plains Elementary was among five honored by Grand Haven Area Public School with this year’s Excellence in Service Awards.

Bolhuis, who is described as a big-hearted cheerleader always there to empower and encourage those around her, says the recognition was unexpected.

“I am truly still shocked, humbled, and honored to have received this award,” Bolhuis says. “I work with so many incredible educators at Peach Plains and throughout the Grand Haven district. I am inspired by them daily to be the best version of myself and to try to give more.”

GHAPS has hosted the awards for 39 years, but this year was the first time the presentation was prerecorded and viewed simultaneously by schools throughout the district. 

Above and beyond
The May 4 event praised individuals throughout the district for their exceptional work and contributions. In addition to Bolhuis, this year’s Excellence in Service Award winners included social worker Tarsha Barnett, science teacher Roger Glass, secretary Rita Way, and migrant recruiter Abby Teasley.

Barnett, a social worker at Lakeshore Middle School, was recognized as a tireless and effective role model who encourages students and colleagues alike to flourish and grow. 

This year’s Excellence in Service Award winners include teacher Beth Bolhuis (left) and migrant recruiter Abby Teasley.

Glass, a high school science teacher, was spotlighted for the way he engages his students with humor and fun, hands-on activities in an environment that is simultaneously safe and exciting.

“I feel humbled to win this award. Starting out and finishing (soon I think) my career at GHAPS has been a wonderful experience,” says Glass, who credits other his many mentors over the years for helping sharpen his teaching philosophy. 

His advice to others is to “have fun and be silly each day with the kids, let them know you are human too, and go out of your way to lift others up.”

Way, secretary to the athletic director, was honored for the way she efficiently works behind the scenes to make sure all GHAPS athletics run like a well-oiled machine. 

“I have always lived by the motto, ‘Meet needs and exceed expectations.’ Throughout my years at GHAPS, it is gratifying to hear my colleagues and administration share how I have done exactly that,” says Way. “The years of compliments on my work and positive attitude definitely helped me to continue to reach my goals. But to be a recipient of the Excellence in Service Award was very unexpected! But mostly greatly appreciated!”

Teasley is the district’s migrant recruiter and has an incredible gift for establishing quality, collaborative relationships within GHAPS, the migrant community, and area businesses to ensure her students and their families have what they need to be successful. Teasley was also recently honored by West Michigan Works! with a Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Award. 

The district’s Spirit of Grand Haven Area Public Schools award was presented to Randy Poel. A lifelong GHAPS supporter, Poel has positively impacted countless lives with decades of service to GHAPS athletics, leading efforts to equip athletic facilities with automatic electronic defibrillator units, and as the county’s first DARE Officer. 

Since the 1982-83 school year, the district’s Excellence In Service Awards have honored teachers, staff, and volunteers. They recognize and encourage superior performance and cultivate a continued expectation of excellence in the Grand Haven Area Public Schools.


Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.