Meet our Healthy Beginnings Team 
The Healthy Beginnings Team is the branch of Ready for School that addresses health issues and how they may interfere with a child's success in school. The team includes two community health workers, Raquel Louks and Eli Lopez, a nurse case manager, Sharon Benner and a medical director, Dr. Donna Lowry.


At a recent appointment to the Holland Community Health Center, a mother expressed concern that her two-year-old was not speaking as much as other children.  A home visit provided opportunity to observe the child at play in his familiar environment.  In this case, it gave vital information that wasn't seen during his visit to the doctor.  His Mom helped complete an ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) a developmental screening tool that takes about 30 minutes for parents to fill out.


During the visit the Healthy Beginnings team member noticed the child rarely used words to communicate his needs. His Mom also shared that his older brother had a similar delay in talking and fine motor coordination that was not discovered until he entered kindergarten.


This Mom was eager for her second child to have support before he reached school age. Ready for School was able to link her to Early On, a free home-based program that provides speech therapy, and other services for children with delays.


The ASQ is available online for families with children up to age five, who live in Ottawa County.  Just click on the link provided

Ages and Stages Questionnaire to reach the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. Once the questions are completed, parents receive feedback on how they can promote their child's development.     


 This family's story illustrates what Ready for school is about:

  • Identifying children at risk
  • Empowering parents to be advocates for their children
  • Providing early intervention
  • Linking families with the community resources necessary for success
2014 New Board Members

Ready for School is pleased to welcome five new members to the Board of Directors.  Each new member brings their unique skills, talents and experiences to the board, along with a passion for early childhood and the mission of Ready for School.

Cal DeKuiper is the Superintendent of Zeeland Public Schools.  He has over 30 years of educational experience as a teacher, coach, athletic director and principal.

Boyd Feltman is the Owner and President of Peachwave of Holland and Peachwave of Wyoming/Byron Center after ending a 15 year career in finance at General Electric. 

Jennifer Owens is the President of Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland.  She is a certified economic development professional with 14 years of nonprofit organization management experience. 

Alma Valenzuela is the Assistant Director of Probation & Community Corrections at 58th District Court in Holland.  She has over 14 years in government administration.

Amy Ziel is the Human Resources Manager with Macatawa Bank in Holland.  Her career spans over 18 years in the financial banking industry. 
Thank You!
A special thank you to New Holland Brewery for collecting school supplies during their "Back to School" Drive.  The school supplies were recently donated to area preschool centers.  Thank you, New Holland, for helping our early childhood educators have the proper tools to educate our young children.
Preschool openings still available 

Thanks to the increased funding under the legislation led by Governor Snyder, the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) of Ottawa County still has openings for free and low-cost high-quality preschool for Ottawa area children who turn four by October 1, 2014.


In order to provide families with services to meet their needs, half-day morning and afternoon sessions as well as full day options are available. And, a family of four making up to $59,625 could qualify for free preschool. Before and after school childcare and transportation are also offered in some locations.


OAISD supports local Great Start Readiness Programs to provide high-quality preschool education to encourage kindergarten success. OAISD works directly with school districts, community agencies, and childcare centers that provide the preschool services for families within the community.


To learn more about qualifications and to find preschools in your area, visit or contact Ready for School at (616) 834-0515 or We can assist you through the application process.  Applications can be found on the links provided:

in English or Solicitud para asistencia para el preescolar  in Spanish.



Ready for School's Kellee Kortas - ArtPrize 
Ready for School's very own Kellee Kortas, Office Manager is participating in this year's ArtPrize with her entry, Magnetic Motion.  
The nearly 6 by 9 foot art piece uses over 400 magnets combined with iron shavings on a canvas to depict four runners finishing a race.  Kellee mentions "that this piece was inspired by the Fifth Third River Bank Run."  The unusual medium used on her art piece is something Kellee began working with while she was attending Hope College.  "I began creating this style of work after observing magnetic field lines in a college class that explored the science and technology of our everyday lives," Kellee states,  " as the magnets and iron shavings were passed around, I found that I loved the active lines that were created when the iron shavings made the invisible natural forces of the magnets visible."
Kellee's piece, Magnetic Motion is at Louis Benton's Steakhouse in Grand Rapids starting September 24th through October 12th.  You can also visit her website at to see a video of how this piece of art was made as well as voting information. 
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