Street Talk: A great start


Grand Rapids Community College will be the first in the state to participate in a national project to better prepare early childhood education professionals.

The project, supported by a $1.3-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will be guided by the University of Toledo.

UT faculty will join colleagues at four Michigan community colleges on Great Start for Higher Education, focusing on helping early childhood teachers with associate degrees better meet the needs of young children with disabilities and their families.

An advisory board — comprised of Michigan experts, family members of children with disabilities, graduates of community college early childhood programs, representatives from state agencies, and other early childhood and early childhood special education professionals — will guide the work.

“The Great Start for Higher Education project will help us ensure our graduates are well-prepared to support each and every young child and family,” said Rebecca Brinks, GRCC's Child Development program director. “This project will also enhance our program’s preparation for continued national accreditation under new standards, which have a far greater emphasis on issues of culture, language, equity, ability and inclusion.”

GRCC will be the first to participate, followed by Mott Community College, Monroe County Community College and a yet-to-be-selected fourth program.

The GSHE team will provide intensive professional development for GRCC colleagues related to their emphasis on evidence-based practices for supporting children of diverse abilities, cultures, languages, and life circumstances and their families.

UT faculty member Laurie Dinnebeil and national consultant Camille Catlett, of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, will partner with Brinks as well as other campus and community partners.

Catlett said GRCC was selected because of the nationally accredited program’s reputation and Brinks’ leadership and commitment.

“GRCC is well known as a high-quality program focusing on preparing early childhood professionals to serve the Grand Rapids area’s young children and families,” she said. “Dr. Brinks’ expertise in standards and accreditation will be vitally important for our work moving forward.”

The grant is for $1.25 million over five years starting in January and is a competitive award based on peer review and ranking of a national pool of applications.


Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced a policy to eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in beef.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest burger chain and the single-largest purchaser of beef in the U.S.

“Through this commitment, in partnership with our suppliers and producers, we will reduce the overall use of antibiotics important to human health, as defined with the World Health Organization, across our top 10 beef sourcing markets,” the company said in a statement.

Its announcement, committing the company to reduce antibiotics use in 85 percent of the beef it purchases, has wide-ranging implications for the beef industry and for public health.

“We expect this to be the first of many commitments from food companies to purchase beef raised without medically important antibiotics; importantly, this means that the beef industry will need to change their practices to meet this growing demand,” said Christy Spees, an environmental health program manager at the Oakland, California nonprofit As You Sow.

McDonald’s cleaned up its chicken supply in August 2016, prompted by shareholder resolutions.

In October, a group of advocacy organizations seeking an end to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals published the fourth edition of the “Chain Reaction” report card. This year’s report rated burger companies for antibiotics policies on beef. Most of the companies received failing grades, including McDonald’s.

“There is still significant work to be done by food companies to curb the use of antibiotics,” Spees said. “With McDonald’s leading the way, there is no reason why other major fast food chains should not follow with their own commitments to source responsibly raised beef.

“We look forward to continuing to engage the company on establishing a similar policy for its pork supply chain, but today, we are happy to congratulate McDonald’s on this positive step forward.”

Chain gang

GRCC is offering a new certificate program to meet industry demand for supply chain operations managers.

The 30-week Supply Chain Operations Management Certificate program, which starts in January, will prepare people to manage the movement and storage of raw materials, inventory and finished goods from where they are made to where they are used.

Pam Miller, associate dean in the School of Workforce Development, said the new program was created with the help of industry partners.

"Every sector of industry is seeking entry-level workers with the technical knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the dynamic field of supply chain management," she said.

Students who earn this certificate can start immediately in the workforce as production, planning and expediting clerks. They also may apply the credits they earned toward an associate degree in business or other programs, or pursue bachelor degrees in supply chain management or logistics. 

"This program also provides area businesses the ability to offer their employees additional professional development and continuing education opportunities in supply chain operations and management," Miller said.

Those interested in the program should contact GRCC's Business Department at or (616) 234-4220.

The naughty list

The holiday season is a time of cheer for many, but it also is a time for excess waste, including wrapping paper, decorations and Christmas trees, going into the wrong channels.

To help reduce and recycle more waste this holiday season, the Kent County Department of Public Works has issued some guidelines for holiday waste disposal.

“While the holiday season is a time for gift giving, holiday parties and family dinners, it’s also the time of year when our waste drastically increases — almost by 25 percent nationwide,” said Lauren Westerman, Kent County DPW’s resource recovery educator. “We’re asking everyone to be aware of what can go into their recycling bins this holiday season and take steps to reduce their waste, recycle and donate old items.”

Here are a few tips from the Kent County DPW that will keep you off the sustainability naughty list.

Remember to bring reusable bags when Christmas shopping or going to any store, not just the grocery store.

Wrapping and tissue paper cannot be recycled because it’s low-quality paper that paper mills can’t use to make new paper products. Reduce use of wrapping paper this holiday season by using other creative materials to wrap gifts, such as old maps, colorful cloth or old gift bags.

From plastic to cardboard to strings and zip ties, it’s important to separate packaging materials before recycling them. For example, if a toy comes in a plastic package that also has cardboard, make sure to separate both materials before recycling.

Before throwing away old appliances, gaming systems or other electronics, visit Kent County DPW’s recycling guide.

Remember to rinse all glass bottles before placing them in a recycling bin.

Do not recycle artificial trees. Instead, donate them to thrift stores. For those who put up real trees, remember to remove all ornaments, tinsel and other decorations before taking them to a local drop off site.

The Kent County DPW estimates, by the end of 2018, residents will have recycled 500,000 Christmas trees-worth of paper, enough aluminum to make 74,000 tabletop Menorahs and enough steel to make 53,000 Radio Flyer wagons.

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