Michigan Students Celebrate Reading Month with Consumers Energy Engineers

From left, Jim Ellis, John Hiddema, Marcus Chandrapal and Dan Schmoekel bring popular children's books to life.
From left, Jim Ellis, John Hiddema, Marcus Chandrapal and Dan Schmoekel bring popular children’s books to life.

As a third grade student nearly two decades ago, Jim Ellis loved to let his imagination run wild by reading a good book.

He remembers reading some of his favorites – “The Hardy Boys,” “Jurassic Park” and “Goosebumps” – like it was yesterday.

Flash forward 20 years, thousands of books and an engineering degree later to Mrs. (Linda) Vandermolen’s classroom in Holland, Mich., and it’s easy to see Ellis’ love for reading never quite left him.

As part of March’s National Reading Month,  Ellis, a Consumers Energy employee, and three fellow engineers agreed to put on a reading show for 29 third-grade students.

“That was a blast,” said Ellis who was joined by John Hiddema and Dan Schmoekel, both Consumers Energy engineers, and Marcus Chandrapal, a contractor for the company, in readings of popular children’s books including “The Princess and the Pea” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”

“Anytime you can put a smile on a kid’s face makes your day.”

The four agreed to do the reading after Linda and her husband Terry Vandermolen, a co-worker at the Campbell Generating Complex, recruited them after bumping into each other at a local restaurant after work.

“These guys are true role models,” said Terry Vandermolen. “There was no hesitation to help out by any of them. I am proud to be their colleague and proud that great people like them work for this company.”

Ellis said the four engineers plan on making a return trip to the classroom next year. And they look forward to bringing popular children’s books to life once again.

Said Ellis: “It was fun for the kids, but the four of us might have had more fun than they did.”