Great Lakes Center for the Arts Hires Next Gen Program Coordinator

BAY HARBOUR, MI – The Great Lakes Center for the Arts recently welcomed Dr. Rachel Sytsma-Reed as the Next Gen Program Coordinator following the retirement of Heather Russell.

Sytsma-Reed comes to the center with a wealth of experience and education as well as a deep call to make Northern Michigan a better place. She holds a doctorate in educational psychology, with a specialization in gifted and talented education. She also earned a Master of Science in Astrobiogeochemistry as well as a Master of Science in Secondary and Adult Science Education. His resume includes research and work for NASA’s Institute of Astrobiology, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration, and the National Research Center for the Gifted and Talented.

She has also served as a gifted and talented consultant and curriculum evaluator in two major school districts in the Grand Rapids area and served as an associate professor at Calvin University. She also recently served as a community educator at the Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital Wellness Workshop.

“I have a lot of different experiences, and it’s not a coincidence. I strongly believe that the more you can understand things, the better you understand things,” she said.

“I think it’s important that we help model this for the kids in the Next Gen program, because when you can look at things in an interdisciplinary way, your autonomy to make changes increases.”

Sytsma-Reed mentioned how enthusiastic she is about bringing people together around ideas. Next month, she will oversee and coordinate Next Gen’s first in-person school matinee since early 2020. Next Gen will present “Warriors Don’t Cry,” a musical centered around the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957 .

The experience will spark discussion about social accountability and civil discourse and include accompanying lesson plans for educators to use.

“I feel like it’s an opportunity to be a part of something that’s important and valuable overall. To me, it doesn’t feel like a job. It feels like a goal” , Sytsma-Reed said.

Sytsma-Reed began her role in January. She lives in Charlevoix with her husband and daughters, proud members of the centre’s other educational initiative, the Dorothy Gerber Strings Program.

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