The Great Start Readiness Program is available in every school district and run through a partnership with the local school district. It is administered by the Ionia ISD.

Program Administrator: Amy Opperman, (616)527-4900


Program Location:
Ellis Elementary School 100 W. Ellis Street
Belding MI 48809
(616) 794-4100
Class Times: Tuesday-Friday
Full Day:  8:45 am to 3:45pm
Half Day: AM: 8:45 to 11:45 
PM: 12:45 to 3:45
Building Principal:
Brian Babbitt (616) 794-4100
Transportation Contact: 
Beverly Brownell  (616) 794-4970
Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Staff (Teacher)
Sandra Christensen (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: 794-4131
Classroom: 117
Teacher’s email: 

Denise Simmons (Teacher)
Wendy Green (Teaching Assistant) 
Classroom Phone Number: 794-4148
Classroom: 203
Teacher’s email:


Program Location:
Emerson Elementary
645 Hackett St
Ionia, MI  48846
(616) 527-8018
Class Times: Tuesday-Friday
AM 8:30-11:30.   PM 12:15-3:15
Building Principal:
Jon Duley  (616) 527-1741
Transportation Contact:
Mike Avery (616) 527-9680
Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Hilary Butler (Teacher)
Karen Hotchkiss (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: 527-8018 Ext: 3233
Classroom: 105
Teacher’s email:

Tiffinie Wittenbach (Teacher)
Jennifer Bledsoe (Teaching Assistant) 
Classroom Phone Number: 527-8018 Ext: 3276
Classroom: 104
Teacher’s email:


Program Location:  
Lakewood Early Childhood Center
223 W. Broadway
Woodland, MI 48897
(269) 367-4935
Class Times: Tuesday-Friday
AM 8:32-11:32 
PM 12:17-3:17 
Building Principal:
Jodi Duits (269) 367-4935

Transportation Contact:
Hope Partlow (616)374-0759

Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Emily Humpert (Teacher)
Suzanne Derosha (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number Extension: 2133
Classroom: 32
Teacher’s email:

Nicole Valinski (Teacher)
Jeff Haight (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom: 35
Teacher’s email:


Program Location:
Oakwood Elementary School
500 Oak Street
Portland, MI  48875
(517) 647-4479
Class Times: Tuesday-Friday  
AM: 8:35-11:35   PM: 1:00-4:00
Building Principal:
Elizabeth Findlay (517) 647-4479
Transportation Contact:
Gary Bond   (517) 647-2993
Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Chelsey Fitz (Teacher)
Caitlyn Zbytowski (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: (517) 647-2991 ext 4
Teacher’s email:
Classroom: B114



Program Location:
Saranac Elementary School
250 Pleasant St
Saranac,  MI 48881
(616) 642-1200
Class Times:  Tuesday-Friday
AM: 7:35-10:35   PM: 11:45-2:45
Building Principal:
Mike Catrell  (616) 642-1200
Transportation Contact: 
Jason Smith

Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Angela Guernsey (Teacher)
Abby Westendorp (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: 642-1264
Classroom: 149
Teacher’s email:



Program Location:
Ellis Elementary
100 W. Ellis
Belding, MI 48809
(616) 794-4100
Class Times: Tuesday-Friday
Class Times: 7:30-2:30
Program Supervisor:
Meredith Jones (616) 527-2337
Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Tina Moorehead (Teacher)
Terri Stout (Teacher Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: 794-4120
Classroom: 206
Teacher’s email:
Program Location:
Ionia Head Start 1
2191 Harwood Rd.
Ionia, MI 48846
Class Days: Tuesday-Friday
Class Times: 7:30-2:30
Program Supervisor:
Meredith Jones (616)527-2337
Teaching Team:1star1star1star1star
Mel-Lisa Kenney (Teacher)
Tracy Sedore (Teaching Assistant)
Classroom Phone Number: 5
Classroom: 616-522-9609
Teacher’s email:

What does the star rating mean for preschool programs?

Great Start to Quality rates child care and preschool programs with between one and five blue stars, based on standards developed by experts and parents.

The following is considered in a start rating system:

  • Staff qualifications and experience – provider/program staff have attained higher education levels, Child Development Associate or other credentials, training, etc.
  • Family and community engagement – program/provider communicates with parents and assists them in finding other resources in the community, etc.
  • Administration and management – program/provider has written personnel policies, evaluates staff performance and takes other steps to retain staff, etc.
  • Learning environment – program’s/provider’s facility is environmentally safe, has nutrition and physical activity plans for children, monitors children’s development, etc.
  • Curriculum/instruction – program/provider has a statement of priorities for child  education, development, an approved curriculum, routine but flexible schedule, etc.
And here’s what the stars mean:  
0star 1 Star (empty star/no color) – Program meets state licensing requirements.
All other star ratings are blue:   
1star 1 Star – Program meets licensing requirements and participates in Great Start to Quality’s improvement system.
1star1star 2 Star – Program demonstrates quality across some standards.
1star1star1star 3 Star – Program demonstrates quality across several standards.
1star1star1star1star 4 Star – Program demonstrates quality across almost all standards.
1star1star1star1star1star 5 Star – Program demonstrates highest quality.


You can learn more about the Great Start to Quality System and find program ratings by logging onto