Unity Christian High School

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Mrs. Dorenda Van Gaalen

ELL (English Language Learner) Teacher

Teacher Photo Position at Unity: English Language Learning


Professional and Educational Background: I graduated from Dordt College with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in language arts. I received my Masters Degree in Language Arts and Reading from Washington State University and have done additional course work at Iowa State University. Most recently, I have taken a course in teaching ESL grammar from Wheaton College.


Childhood and Family Background: Although I was born in central California, I call Washington my home state. My parents farmed in the Yakima Valley where my brothers and I had to help out with the work—whether cutting asparagus, feeding calves, or suckering grapes. I still have one brother who calls that area home. My husband Nolan, who was born and raised in southern Alberta, is employed at Dordt College in the engineering department. Our three children graduated from Unity and all will have graduated from Dordt College by the time our youngest is finished there. Joelle and her husband Alex live in Minneapolis; Reuben lives in Winnipeg, and Ross in Sioux Center.


Church Life:  We are members at Faith CRC, Sioux Center.


Life Outside Unity: I have a part time job at Faith where I hold the position of Household Coordinator. I volunteer for Moms in Prayer at the state level and also belong to a MiP College/Career group in Sioux Center. Our spare room often houses overnight guests and most Sundays we have an assortment of folks around our dinner table. When school is not in session, we look for ways to connect with our extended family and enjoy traveling to visit them.

Why I Work at Unity: I started out volunteering at Unity with Mrs. Broers, and that led to helping out when our first group of international students arrived a few years ago. This turned into a part-time position and continues as we work to build a program to support the learning of our international students at Unity. I have always enjoyed working with small groups and building relationships. Working with international students is a blessing—a good way for me to receive an education while I seek to give one in return!

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