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New principal takes over at Oak Harbor Christian School

"Abe Geertsema thought he was retiring a year ago. Then he received a further calling.With 40 years as a teacher and administrator at Christian schools throughout the U.S., Geertsema retired after the 1999-2000 school year, after serving most recently as the kindergarten through 12th grade superintendent and the high school principal at Ripon Christian School in Ripon, Calif. Geertsema and his wife Carolyn spent last year traveling the country, visiting their children and grandchildren.I look at it as sort of a sabbatical, Geertsema said.Then the call came.Oak Harbor Christian School is a member of Christian Schools International, and Geertsema was on a list at CSI of retired teachers and administrators. CSI asked him if he'd be willing to come out of retirement, at least temporarily.Three different schools were interested in him, Geertsema said, and one of them was Oak Harbor Christian School. The former principal at the private school, Larry VanderLeest, resigned at the end of last school year.The couple chose the Oak Harbor assignment because they had never been here before.My position here is an interim position for one year. I came out of retirement, Geertsema said Monday from his office at the school, 675 E. Whidbey Ave.Carolyn Geertsema will also work at the school this year, teaching language arts at the fifth-grade level. Formerly she was the librarian at Ripon Christian School and an English instructor at Modesto Junior College.I believe the Lord has plans for us and His plan was for me to take the year off ... Now I look at it that the Lord wants us to work, Geertsema said.Geertsema completed his undergraduate work in chemistry and his master's degree at Brown University in Rhode Island. He taught chemistry and math for 20 years before earning his administrator's credential. Aside from filling the principal's role, Geertsema will also teach algebra to 8th-graders this year.Oak Harbor Christian School teaches children from preschool through 8th grade. It was founded in Oak Harbor in 1938 under the basic philosophy of the Reformed Christian Church, Geertsema said. It is interdenominational, and members of about 20 different churches throughout Oak Harbor are represented in the student enrollment. About 160 students are enrolled for the coming school year.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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