The Olivia Haverkamp Early Learning Center (ELC), located on our Evergreen Campus, is a part of Grand Rapids Christian Schools (GRCS). The ELC is year-round childcare for children as young as 18 months old.
Our philosophy is centered around the GRCS "3Cs:" Christ, Community and Commitment.
We are rooted in Christ.
Christ-centered | Children are cared for in an environment where Christ is at the center of daily decisions and interactions. Children are prayed with and prayed for by staff who seek His wisdom, strength, patience, and understanding.
- Safe and nurturing | Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me”. Children who are welcomed to the Olivia Haverkamp Early Learning Center experience an emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually safe space in which they thrive and grow.
We are better together.
Beautifully diverse | Every child is beautifully and uniquely created in the image of God and we celebrate this by thanking God for our diversity and purposefully learning more about one another. Students and staff recognize the beauty of our different cultures and backgrounds.
- Relationship-driven | Students are drawn into relationships with fellow learners and staff members at the ELC. It is our hope, through these relationships, children’s self-confidence, independence, and imagination will blossom.
We lead lives of purpose.
- Play-based | Children learn in an environment where they can explore, discover, learn, and grow through PLAY! Classrooms include rich and joyful learning experiences that encourage children to develop a sense of awe and wonder in the world God created. Our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.
- Whole-child focus | Students experience classrooms in which growth is encouraged in all areas of development. The ELC provides space for GRCS’ youngest learners to bloom as they discover the skills that build emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Meet our Directors!
Early Learning Center Director
Evergreen Campus Preschool Director
Tara Udeh joined the GRCS family in March of 2022 as the Early Learning Center Director! Tara and her family moved to Michigan from New Mexico, where she was an elementary principal in Gallup McKinley County Schools. Tara and her husband, Charles, have three daughters, Chizaram, Malaika, and Isioma. Prior to New Mexico, Tara and Charles met and lived in Jos, Nigeria. Tara served with Resonate Global Mission at Hillcrest School for nine years as a teacher and elementary administrator. Besides her passion for working with children, Tara loves hiking, trying new foods from around the world, celebrating cultural diversity, and spending quality time with her family.
Courtney Vander Lugt
Early Learning Center Assistant Director
Courtney Vander Lugt is part of the GRCS family as the Assistant Director of the Early Learning Center! She and her husband Nick have two children, Ruthie and Robby. Before joining the GRCS family, Courtney worked in the early childhood education field for several years. She was most recently at Grand Rapids Community College in their Early Childhood Learning Lab. Courtney is passionate about early childhood education and is so happy to be a part of the Olivia Haverkamp Early Learning Center. Apart from her passion for children, she loves being with family outside, going on walks, and playing with her children.
Olivia Haverkamp, a 2019 graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, passed away in January 2020 following a nearly three-year battle with cancer. This young woman was a wonderful embodiment of the qualities reflected in our Portrait of a Graduate who boldly professed her love for Jesus. Because of this love, she very publicly decided to ‘choose joy’ throughout her battle with cancer. Her determination to live every day with gratitude was an inspiration to all who knew her and, most importantly, her life was a testimony of her love for Jesus Christ and His love for her. It is our privilege to celebrate Olivia’s life and honor her legacy by naming the Early Learning Center in her memory.