Dr. Nkechy Ezeh – Founder / Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Ezeh, an international scholar, is a tenured Associate Professor of Education and Director of Early Childhood Education Program at Aquinas College. As Dr. Ezeh prepares new teachers for Early Care & Education, she is able to draw upon perspectives gained through her direct involvement in the community. As a former Early Care & Education teacher she spent many days in the classroom, specifically with vulnerable children, gaining valuable insight on the practical implementation of educational theory. Dr. Ezeh has served as an Adult and Parent Educator, not only teaching parents but listening and learning from those who can best describe what life is like for low income families. She has assisted several non-profit agencies as an Early Childhood Education Consultant, providing curriculum and evaluation expertise at a level that many would not normally have been able to access.
In addition, for the past 20 years, Dr. Ezeh has conducted Professional Development and Parent Education workshops throughout the United States of America, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria and Zambia. Dr. Ezeh completed her M.Ed. at Grand Valley State University, and Ed.D in Child and Youth Studies with specialization in Curriculum Development and Systemic Change from Nova Southeastern University. She was one of the US delegates to Reggio Emilia, Italy and a panelist on the Oxford University Early Literacy Round Table.
In 2010, commissioned by W.K. Kellogg Foundation Dr. Ezeh conducted a current reality research on children living in the core city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She later led a collaborative process to establish an Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC) for the purpose of planning and designing an intentional preschool service system aimed at providing, expanding and sustaining the capacity of high quality early care and education programs in the vulnerable neighborhoods of Grand Rapids. Her research and recommendations resulted in a $6.5 Million grant award to ELNC in 2012. Under her leadership, ELNC has created 400 quality preschool slots in the core city of Grand Rapids. All ELNC preschool sites have earned top ratings of 4 and 5 stars through the State of Michigan Quality Tiered Rating System. In 2013, ELNC was awarded 160 Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) preschool slots – the highest number allocated to any Community Based Organization in Kent County- to serve vulnerable children living in the ELNC target neighborhood. Dr. Ezeh is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow.
K’Sandra Earle – Associate Director
K’Sandra Earle is in her second year of serving as the Early Childhood Education Director with ELNC. Her love for education and young children coupled with her passion for teachers fuels her work with ELNC. Prior to her work with ELNC, K’Sandra was the center director at Baxter Child Development Center. During her tenure with Baxter she restructured and changed the paradigm for early childhood programming. The teaching staff was strengthened, enrollment increased, and research based curriculum was implemented under K’Sandra’s leadership. A self-described perfectionist, K’Sandra strives to ensure that each ELNC site meets the quality standards that are held by the agency in terms of teacher qualifications and professional development with an emphasis on recruiting of teachers of color. She firmly believes that the staffing of an early childhood center should reflect the culture of the children attending the center. K’Sandra is native of Texas and is a graduate of the University of Houston and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has successfully completed coursework in Early Childhood Program Administration and is completing a Master’s degree in Early Childhood with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction.
Kimberly Spencer – Director