Wendy VerHage Falb, Ph.D. Board Member
350 Cherry St., SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Home Phone: 616-819-2197
Term 1: July 1, 2009 - December 31, 2014
B.A. - Calvin College: Education, English, Music
M.A. - Boston College: English
Ph.D. - Michigan State University: English
Boston College, Wentworth Technical Institute, Grand Valley State University, Calvin College, Michigan State University
I began college knowing that I wanted to teach. During high school, I taught private music lessons and directed the senior play. Both experiences not only brought me much deeper into subjects that I thought I had known quite well, they also changed my understanding of how we learn and why we learn. Teaching was the most challenging and rewarding work I had ever done. The worked changed the students, but what surprised me was how much it had changed me. Learning, I now understood, was not individual; it was interpersonal. I also understood that the innate human desire to learn was kindled only in a context of trust and mutuality, and that creating that context was hard work, really hard work, and not always in my control.
After finishing a B.A. in Secondary Education, English, and Music from Calvin College, I pursued a M.A. at Boston College, during which time I taught both at Boston College and at a Technical College in the Mission Hill district of Boston. These two institutions served very different student populations, both from whom I learned a lot and will always be grateful. Because of my previous degree in education, I entered these classrooms far better prepared than my graduate school colleagues. I had learned meta-congnitive strategies for the teaching of reading and writing, I had learned pedagogical tools for implementing these strategies, and I had learned how to reflect on these practices. I was recognized for my teaching both at Boston College and later at Michigan State University where I completed my Ph.D.
My husband and I chose to live in the city and to send our two children to the Grand Rapids Public Schools because of our belief in the importance of public education toward creating an equitable and just society. I have been an active community member in my neighborhoods, my church, the arts community, and the school that my children have attended. Knowing the important role that strong communities play in the education of children, I choose to use my time and training toward strengthening their school community, leading first the PTA and then the PAL (parent involvement) program.
My service on the Board of Education is informed by the analytical skills I honed while completing a rigorous advanced degree as well as the many lessons learned through the failures and successes of teaching. But, I am perhaps best prepared to meet the challenges of serving in this capacity by the humbling wisdom gained through building community.
Wendy currently serves on the Board of Education's Executive Committee, Legislative Committee, and City-Board Liaison Committee.