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Why the Great Start Collaborative?  We are glad you asked.  The Great Start Collaborative (or GSC) is all about kids.  Words cannot describe how important our children in the Cheboygan Otsego, and Presque Isle counties are for the future of the communties in each of these counties.  Therefore, we collaborate-for the future is coming.


By bringing leaders, parents, teachers, social workers, pediatricians, and many others together, we can work together to see that our children and their parents have opportunties and services available to them to meet their needs.     

Now that you know the "why", what is the Great Start Collaborative? Our mission is to foster the growth of healthy communities to support children and families, with a vision to be all inclusive   


Life is staring our children in the face.  What a great opportunity we have to invest in our children from birth to five years old, getting them ready to succeed in everything they do in life. Interested? We hope so, if you are interested in partnering with us contact Melinda Hambleton, our GSC Coordinator.  

Melinda Hambleton

Great Start Cheboygan Otsego Presque Isle County

Melinda is the coordinator that heads up the Great Start Collaborative for Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties.  She is the mother of three children and a grandmother of six. She has been working in the Early Childhood field since 1988.


Melinda's experience in the child care field makes her the perfect fit as the GSC Coordinator.  She has been the Coordinator for the GSC for over 13 years, a Head Start Lead Teacher for 22 years, and employed at a Child Care Center for 1 year. Melinda also has her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelors Degree in Family Life Education.


Children are our future, and it is our duty as adults to invest in our children and community.  Parents have a responsibility to help their child(ren) develop in a safe and nurturing environment, and to be an active partner in their child's life and education.

Dawn Fenstermaker

Dawn Fenstermaker Parent Liaison.JPG

Dawn Fenstermaker is the "go-to" person when it comes to the needs of parents in the COP counties. She sees to it that the needs of children and their parents are heard at the Great Start meetings.  She also is involved in the recruitment of new parents to join up with the collaborative and Dawn heads up the meetings of the Parent Coalition in each of the three counties with the Lead Parents of each county. Feel free to contact Dawn if you would like to hear more about the Parent Coalition!​


Dawn is a mother of 2, grandmother of 3. She has been the Parent Liaison since March 2013. She has been working in the Early Childhood Field for 13 years. She is on the Leadership Team, Presque Isle 4-H Advisory Council, and the Otsego County Literacy Alliance. Much of her work in the community centers around finding and sharing parent voice to improve our early childhood system to achieve better outcomes for children.

Michigan Early Childhood Outcomes JPEG.j

Nothing ever gets done without a great team helping to make things happen. Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties have a great team of leaders that are working together to make life and education better for our young children.  


The GSC leadship team consists of parents and professionals that work together. Below is a list of our leadership board: 


Melinda Hambleton (GSC Coordinator)


Amanda Goscho (Early Headstart-NEMCSA)


Brooke Donker (Headstart-NEMCSA


Dawn Fenstermaker  (Parent Coalition Liason to the GSC)


Karen Rauch-Smock (COPESD Early Learning Sup.)

Kym Narayana (Early On Coordinator)

Cheree Riley (LARA Child Care)

Lisa Mzelcheski (NEMCSA  Early Head Start)

Katie Parr-MSUE

Simone Crome-Parent Ambassador




This program is funded through a grant provided by the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential





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