From our Board Member Jan Ver Merris and Noorthoek Academy student, Cathy Ling


A few years ago I volunteered in a Noorthoek Academy computer class, and it was a pleasant
surprise to walk in the room and see Cathy Ling, a former student from my teaching days at
Kent Occupational High School. Cathy’s and my relationship slowly developed that semester as
I helped her in the computer class and soon after I started taking her out to lunch once a month.
I also give her rides to Noorthoek Academy events and we text and share phone calls. Some
people have referred to me as a mentor to Cathy, but I think of a mentor as someone who gives
more than they get. At the start I assumed that would be true, but it isn’t. Cathy and I enjoy a
friendship that we both value and, mentor or not, we both benefit greatly from our relationship.

I attended Kent Occupational High School from 1975-1978 and while I was a student there I had
some favorite teachers. One was Miss Verwys, now Jan VerMerris. We lost touch when I
started working at St. Mary’s Hospital and she got married and moved to Illinois for another
teaching job. However, through our awesome Noorthoek Academy college we met again in
Computer class, where Jan was a teacher’s aide. We were shocked to see each other and
reminisced about the good old high school days. Now we go out to lunch monthly, talk on the
phone and text. She also picks me up for Noorthoek events. Jan helped me a lot by driving me
to restaurants and businesses to ask for some great door prizes for the 2022 Big Step Walk.
Thank goodness for Noorthoek Academy that brought Jan and me back together again because
she is such an awesome mentor and I value her friendship.