chef & nutritionist

Assistant Director


Dawnette (She/Her)

Sadie (She/Her)

Sam (She/Her)

Dawnette joined the DC family in July of 2020 as our new cook! Before coming to DC Dawnette was a stay at home mom/grandma. She has two children, Sam and Brett and one dog Sadie Sea. She has always enjoyed cooking for her family and friends. Dawnette is from Plainwell, and in her spare time she enjoys cooking, boating, reading & spending time with family. She has two granddaughters, Wren who is 6 and Tilly who is 2!

Sadie is a new addition to our team and is loving every minute of the camaraderie found at TDC! She has a BA in English-Literature and has been working with children since she was fourteen, teaching both dance (tap, jazz, & ballet) and ESL to children ranging in age from four to thirteen. Sadie cherishes deep connections with others because her mission in life is to nourish every living creature to the best of her ability. While her family is her heart, photography is her passion. Sadie is reveling in the present and looking forward to the future as she fosters rich relationships with her students and their families.

Sam joined The Discovery Center team in the fall of 2019. She came to us as an observer and fell in love with our program.  Sam has quickly become a valuable team member working in the Preschool and Toddler programs, filling in the kitchen as well as becoming the Director. She came to us with more than 10 years experience in other child care programs and she has a Child and Family Development Degree from WMU. In her spare time Sam enjoys reading, watching TV, and spending quality time with her family, cat, and two nieces.

Our Teachers

Leslie (She/Her)

Infant care

Leslie graduated from WMU with a BS in Elementary Ed. She was hired as a lead infant teacher for DC in July of 2009. She enjoys spending time with friends and family; in her spare time she prefers to be outdoors hiking, taking walks, and rollerblading. She is also a trampoline enthusiast! She is a proud aunt to nephews who often join her for her outdoor expeditions. Leslie has been passionate about infant care since an early age. She enjoys spending her days caring for the babies, helping them both learn and grow.

Becca (She/Her)

Infant Care

Becca has been with TDC since May of 2021. She previously worked at Gilden Woods and worked with children of all ages, until she saw an opening at TDC and applied for a position in Infants. She has a CDA certification in Infants & Toddlers. In Becca's spare time she enjoys being with her two daughters and partner of eight years.

Laney (She/Her)

toddler care

Laney is from South Bend, Indiana, but moved to Kalamazoo for college! She is currently working on getting her undergraduate degree in Child and Family Development at WMU, and has plans to graduate at the end 2022. Laney had been working as a toddler/preschool teacher for almost a year. She enjoys helping and seeing the kiddos development and progression over the course of time. She has loved every second of teaching and hopes to continue after receiving her degree. In her free time, she enjoys painting and expressing herself through art, as well as going on hikes to get active and connect with nature.

Sam K. (She/Her)

Toddler Care

Sam joined TDC team in February of 2022. She came as a parent to two Discovery Center children and fell in love with the program. Sam has a bachelors degree in Music Therapy from WMU and is a Board Certified Music Therapist. She has 10 years of experience in providing music therapy services to children of all ages. She loves finding creative, silly, inclusive, play-based, and fun ways for children to reach developmental milestones and to foster a life-long love for learning. Sam enjoys spending time with her family and friends, making music, cooking, running, bicycling, reading, and being outdoors.

jane (She/Her)

Toddler Care

Jane came to TDC in the Fall of 2013. Jane worked for nearly 7 years in the infant room and loved partnering with parents to meet the needs of their babies. She is very excited to now work with our pre-school friends. Jane has a Bachelors degree in psychology with course work for certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has over 20 years experience working with children from Birth to 4th Grade. She is proud to be the wife of a Navy Veteran, and mother to four amazing daughters! She enjoys spending time with her extended family, camping, kayaking, and playing games.

suE Q. (She/Her)


Sue has been working at TDC since 1992. She currently is working with our Transition group. Prior to becoming the transition teacher Sue was a toddler teacher for many years. Sue is very skilled in connecting with all the children in the center. She gets to know not only the children but their families. She came to the Kalamazoo area to pursue an education at Western Michigan University. She settled in Portage and has raised three sons. Her boys are grown and in college or beyond at this point. She enjoys spending time with her family, working out and reading when she has spare time.

chelsea (She/Her)


Chelsea joined our team in September of 2021. Chelsea has her Bachelors in Liberal Arts and Mathematics for Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University, but after graduating decided to move to Chicago where she stayed for five years working various jobs like waiting tables, in a preschool center or in human resources. She recently moved to Kalamazoo to be closer to her family and heard about TDC and how great it is from them as well since both of her nephews attend the center. She works with our preschool kids and switches around our science room which includes our dramatic play area and sensory table. When she is not working, Chelsea enjoys seeing new places, spending time with her boyfriend and their cats, seeing live comedy or music shows and bowling.




ginny (she/her)


Ginny joined the TDC in 1989. She received her B.S. from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. Ginny is originally from Maryland, but has lived in Virginia, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Idaho, and Montana before settling here in Michigan. Her husband was a pharmacist and they came to Michigan for his work with Upjohn.  They have two daughters who are now grown and raising their own families. She is the proud grandmother to three grandchildren. In her spare time, Ginny enjoys running, and reading in addition to spending time with her family and helping with community affairs. Over the years she has worked with the transition, pre-school, and school age programs.  She continues to learn and stay up to date on current ideas through conferences and workshops.

Sue D. (she/her)


Sue has been with DC since 1980. Sue is a WMU graduate with a Bachelor degree in Elementary Education.  She taught for six years in Michigan schools and continued to substitute teach in Kalamazoo after settling down here to raise her family. She continues her education each year with workshops and conferences to remain up to date on all the many ever changing aspects of preschool education and child care. Sue is one of our core Preschool teaching staff and can frequently be found in the Art area, or serving the children breakfast each morning. Sue is almost always the first staff on site each morning welcoming all staff and children as they arrive. Outside of DC, Sue enjoys music, dance, nature, and gardening. She also devotes much of her free time to keeping up with the many adventures of her four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Our Founders

Marcia and Karen started The Discovery Center in 1976 after being asked to leave two churches in two years when they bought our present building. They spent the summer knocking down walls, transforming the garage into a playroom, installing ceilings and generally getting it set up to licensing, fire, and health department standards. 

Marcia Betts

Karen Phillips

Marcia was. the Administrator and Treasurer until her retirement in 2016. She has a BA in Art History and thousands of hours of trainings in Early Childhood. Through the years she has also given workshops on various aspects of early education for local and state conferences as well as area colleges.

Her passions are traveling, design, gardening, cooking, and working on her miniature Victorian houses. She currently lives in Grand Haven. Her specialities are organization, building and ground (especially the outdoor classrooms) and dealing with all the stuff no one else wants to.

Karen was program director and worked on the floor with the kids in the beginning years, and was also a regular contributor to NAEYC publications, mostly with photos but also a few articles. Her primary interest in starting the school was to give kids a place where they could follow their interests while having fun and making friends. She believes that kids have only one chance to be kids and should not be expected to do something just because they're going to have to do it in the next grade.

She and her husband enjoy traveling and have been to 95 countries! She enjoys visiting foreign schools and childcare centers so that she can return to TDC with artifacts and photos for geography. She still enjoys setting up geography and the book corner on the weekends, as well as subbing as needed--because she would miss the children and the other teachers too much if she didn't get to work with them.