Teacher-student bond

Teacher Collene McCormick and graduate Keri Olds share a moment during Olds' graduation from Journey High School in May 2015.

Collene McCormick has made a big difference in recent Journey High School graduate Keri Olds’ life. 

“She’s my lifelong favorite teacher,” Olds said. 

“She not only helped me express myself, but she always told me I had it in me,” Olds said. “She gained my trust easily.”

Olds came to Journey after difficult experiences in her previous school district. 

Olds was bullied, she said, and wanted a new start in school. She was skeptical of the alternative school, but she said she felt accepted right away and she bonded with Superintendent Jamie Bandstra, who helped make her feel safe at the school, and with McCormick.

As an English assignment, McCormick encouraged Olds to take her writing to a new level, writing a book. 

It took research, persistence and a lot of work on grammar. 

“We geared the whole year in English around it,” McCormick said. 


Journey closed at the end of this school year. The building was no longer usable as a school, and the new Gateway to Success charter school planned will not be ready until the fall of 2016. 

Students who had been going to Journey will now return to their original school districts. 

Bandstra said it’s the stories like that of McCormick and Olds that strike him as so important about a school like the one Gateway is expected to be.

Plans for Gateway and a capital campaign will be revealed at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the West Shore ESD.

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