Meet the Staff

Leslie Rindfliesch, Director

Portrait picture of blonde womanI’m Leslie Rindfliesch!  I was born and raised in Port Huron,  MI.  My family made the move from one lake to the other 15 years ago (and I must say that we absolutely LOVE the west-side of Michigan!). I attended Central Michigan University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.  In 2010, I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Masters in Educational Leadership.

This is my 22nd year in the educational field, my 15th year with Zeeland Public Schools and my 11th year with ZQuest!  I have taught every grade level, kindergarten through 8th grade in my career, and I am so proud that I get to be the Principal of the most amazing, non-traditional public school in the area!  We are so lucky to have educational options here in Zeeland like ZQuest!  My husband, Mark, and I enjoy doing all types of outdoor activities with our girls, Alexis, who graduated from ZWHS in June 2022 and is starting her college career at GVSU this fall (following in mom’s footsteps and majoring in Education), and Tessa, 11th grade (both of whom attended ZQuest!!), going to ZPS high school sporting events, traveling to Penn State football and volleyball games, and watching the girls participate in their activities!  I very much enjoy listening to music, learning more about and improving education, relaxing in the sun (when I get a chance), baking and of course shopping!

This year will prove to be another very rewarding year, and I am more than excited to get started!  My goal this year is to continue the great work we’ve started together as a team of teachers, parents and kids,  to take Zeeland Quest students and teachers to the next level of outside-of-the-box learning, and strive to continue our uniqueness within the great district of ZPS.  We have a wonderful school in front of us, great teachers facilitating the education of your learners and  leading the way to changing education by offering different opportunities to our community!  The kids of ZQuest are taking the lead in these new ways of learning and will prove to be leaders of their learning and our ever growing and changing community!  There are no limits on how, where and when we learn at Zeeland Quest and that excites me more than anything! 

Portrait photo of brunette womanI’m Marcy Hartzler and I can hardly believe that I get to say that I will be celebrating my eleventh year at ZQuest!  I am a graduate of Hope College and was blessed to be hired as one of the original ZQuest staff shortly after that. Since then, I have also gone on to earn my Master’s Degree in STEM Leadership. 

Eleven years down the road, ZQuest continues to be a place that puts students ahead of standards and that allows me the flexibility to make learning engaging and relevant, to develop a sense of family within the classroom, and to nurture students who are critical thinkers and leaders in their communities. 

I recently also took on the role of Middle School Girls’ Diving Coach. As a diver and gymnast growing up, it has been invigorating to bring sports back into my life–this time as a coach! I love the opportunity it provides me to find new ways to empower students, encourage them to set high standards, and to help them face their fears.

A new school year also brings with it the energizing promise of new PBLs! I never cease to be amazed with the innovative ways that students attack problems, test solutions, and refine their understanding of how learning impacts the real world. The momentum and excitement that PBL generates simply cannot be beat! I love hearing from former students, and their parents, about how PBL has helped them in high school when it comes to working collaboratively with others, staying organized, demonstrating confidence in the face of challenges, and approaching new learning with the intent to truly understand, not just memorize. 

Amongst the students at ZQuest, I’m known as the teacher who loves cats, Diet Coke, purple, and The Wizard of Oz. When I’m not teaching, you will probably find me reading on the beach in the summer, or snuggled up with my cats, Pippa and Izzy, and a book in the winter. My husband, Joel, and I also love to make our annual journey to New York City to check out the latest Broadway shows and to enjoy some halal food from the Halal Guys cart. 

 My mom and younger sister, who reside in the suburbs of Chicago, love to visit and take advantage of the beach and all the tasty produce in West Michigan. My brother and his family live in Wisconsin, so we have all sides of Lake Michigan covered! I am completely obsessed with my niece and nephew; being an aunt is definitely my favorite role! Though I don’t get to see them in person as much as I’d like, we take full advantage of Facetime!

portrait photo of blonde maleHello! My name is Dustin Neyer and this will be my second year teaching at ZQuest, but first year teaching middle school social studies and 8th grade math. I am very excited to make the transition to middle school and continue building strong relationships with the Zeeland community! Last year, I taught 3rd & 4th grade and coached 8th grade boys basketball at Creekside. I hope to continue coaching basketball this school year as well as football. Project based learning, multi-age classrooms, and collaboration are something I have valued tremendously throughout my teaching career.

I am originally from Mt. Pleasant, where I taught 3rd and 4th grade for three years. In 2018, I graduated from Alma College with degrees in Elementary Education and Social Studies. I also played college football while I was at Alma and have a passion for all athletics. One of my most memorable memories from high school was being #1 on Sportscenter Top Ten Plays for a buzzer beater shot I made in a basketball game. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family at our cottage on Lake Isabella, going to concerts and sporting events, and helping out on my dad’s dairy farm. This past year, I bought my first condo in Allendale and can officially call West Michigan my home. 

Building positive relationships with students, parents, staff, and the community is by far my favorite aspect about teaching. I look forward to continuing my education career in Zeeland and getting to know the ZQuest family!

portrait of brunette womanHello! My name is Amy Bultena, and I teach middle school language arts and sixth grade math. I am thrilled to be at ZQuest for my eighth year!

I was born and raised in Farmington Hills in the Metro Detroit area, and lived there my whole life before attending Grand Valley State University. I’m a two-time graduate of GVSU- I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies in 2011, and my Master’s Degree in Literacy Studies in 2018. I truly enjoyed having so many opportunities to learn new things to bring back to my classroom!

I’ve lived in West Michigan ever since marrying my husband, Andrew, in July of 2013. Our son, Carson, joined us on March 17, 2020 (a St. Patrick’s Day baby!), and our baby girl will join us in July of 2022.  We feel lucky to be able to call West Michigan our home! There’s nothing quite like having Lake Michigan just a few miles away (although I could do without the lake effect snow!).  I try my best to take advantage of the beautiful weather by going to the beach, riding bikes, or reading outside in the sun! I also love to travel whenever I get the opportunity, and try to spend time with family and friends as much as possible, especially my parents in the Metro Detroit area, and my brother and sister-in-law in Florida.

ZQuest is an amazing place to grow and learn, and I’m thankful to be able to teach here! I am looking forward to a wonderful year for our middle school students. 

 

portrait of brunette manHi! My name is Dan Kornelis and I am excited to be teaching 4th and 5th grade this year! This year will be my 6th year of teaching. Part of that time was spent in Texas, near Houston. Working in a team and creating a respectfully collaborative environment within the classroom are things I value personally and professionally. I am very excited about this upcoming school year and celebrating the successes of all students!

I was born and raised in northern Michigan, near Traverse City, in a small town called Empire. My parents still live there. After high school I attended Alma College and graduated in 2015. In my free time I enjoy getting outside and taking hikes or taking our dog, Winston, for walks. My wife and I live in  Hudsonville and love spending time outside and working on small updates to our house. We will be welcoming our first child to the world in November! We are both excited for this new adventure and to bring a little one into such wonderful communities.

My favorite thing about teaching is getting to know the students and forming meaningful relationships with them. I strive to create lifelong learners who have the critical thinking and collaboration skills to thrive in life outside the classroom. I look forward to another great year with ZQuest!

portrait of brunette womanHello! My name is Amy Funk and I will be teaching 4th and 5th grade this year!   This will be my 11th year teaching with Zeeland Quest.  I love watching my students develop a love for learning and how they push me because they want to go above and beyond what is required of them. During break weeks and over the summer my students continue to contact me on what they are learning and what they have achieved. A goal for me and my students this year will be to help them develop their critical thinking, problem solving and 21st Century skills to become self directed learners to reach their highest level of achievement. I have a Marketing Degree from Eastern Michigan University and a Teaching Degree from Grand Valley State University. I currently live in Grand Haven with my Husband.  We have 2 Biological Children.  Kyle is living in Ohio and works as a Research Associate for the National League of Cities out of Washington D.C.  Derek is taking classes at Grand Valley State University, working towards his Bachelor Degree.   In April 2018, we adopted a young man who needed a family and a home.  His name is Carlos and he is currently working full time and just purchased a home this past spring.  In my spare time I love to read, play games,  spend time with my family, travel and spend time on our boat.

portrait of auburn haired womanHi! My name is Kimberly Villanueva and this will be my 15 th year of teaching!  I graduated from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. I recently completed my Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instruction.   I have a certification in teaching Academically and Intellectually Gifted students from North Carolina Central University as well as an Early Childhood Endorsement from Baker College in Muskegon, MI.  I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2008 where I taught 2nd grade and 3rd grade for 6 years. I miss the weather and the Carolina blue skies-GO HEELS!  I have enjoyed being a part of ZQuest for the past 9 years and I look forward to another great year! I love bringing the excitement of learning to kids and helping them realize the potential they have. 

My husband Jeffery and I have been married for 14 years.  Our daughter Ellery is going into 5th grade this year in Allendale and keeps us plenty busy with soccer, volleyball, softball, and basketball!  We love the chaos of it all (most of the time.)  We love to travel and have fallen in love with visiting National Parks and the beauty that surrounds us. 

Photo of a blonde woman standing by a fenceHello! My name is Ali Neevel and this will be my first year teaching 2nd grade at ZQuest. For the last five years I have been teaching in Holland Public (1st grade, 2nd grade and 3rd grade) and before that I taught 1st grade in Indiana. I have also taught a multi-aged classroom at Innocademy Allegan. I am a graduate of Central College in Pella, Iowa and just recently finished my Masters in Urban Educational Leadership from Davenport University. I am very excited to be joining the ZQuest team! One of my favorite parts about teaching is building relationships with students, families and the community. I look forward to building those relationships here in Zeeland. On top of teaching, I tutor a couple nights a week for students who are dyslexic or need extra support with academics.

When I am not teaching or tutoring, I love spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy catching sunsets at the beach, drinking iced coffee, reading and being active. I am a huge sports fan and often that is the only thing on my television. I enjoy camping and traveling as well. In college I studied abroad in Merida, Mexico, but have also traveled to Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Africa and Italy. As for the United States, my goal is to hit all 50 states by age 50!

 

portrait of brunette woman with glassesHello! I'm Shannon Foerch (pronounced “fair-ick”). This will be by 11th year with ZQuest and I’ll be teaching 1st grade this year! I grew up in Mid-Michigan, but now am fully immersed in West Michigan.  I am a Hope College graduate and earned my master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Western Michigan University in 2014.  Overall, this will be my 16th year of teaching, all in K-2 classrooms.  I had a great opportunity to live and teach in Georgia, but am happy to be home in Michigan :)  I love ZQuest for the small family feel as well as the freedom and flexibility to meet learners where they are at - it's a great challenge and so neat to see my students’ knowledge and abilities grow exponentially‚Äč! Every year, my hope is that I can create a loving and safe learning environment for my students so that they will love learning.

My husband Luke and I have been married for 14 years and we have two children, Nora (6 years old) and Josiah (5 years old).  Nora will be a 1st grader with me at ZQuest and Josiah will be at Roosevelt for Young 5s.  We enjoy spending time with our friends & families, being outside - hiking, swimming and biking - as well as completing DIY projects for our home and for my classroom. 

 

portrait of blonde womanHello! My name is Kristy Zimmer and I am so excited to start my fifth year teaching Kindergarten at ZQuest.   I went to Hope College (2012) for my undergrad and GVSU (2016) for a special education certification. While at Hope, I did my student teaching in Kindergarten and fell in love with teaching at this grade level. It is such a fun age group to work with and to see them learn new skills. I lived in Washington DC after college and worked at Jill’s House, a respite home for children with disabilities. It was an incredible experience to care for children with special needs and give parents respite and rest. Since then I have been teaching at multiple grade levels, special education and gen ed. I am very happy to have landed in Kindergarten! I was raised by my wonderful parents in Holland MI, along with my older sister. My husband, Mike and I got married in November 2017. Our daughter, Cora will turn 2 in September and our son is due June 2022! In our spare time we love to play games with our friends, garden and do DIY projects around the house. I have been running races with my dad for 10 years, we started off with just 5k’s and worked our way up to a marathon in 2016! Now I get to run with Cora in the running cart!

portrait of blonde womanHi Z-Quest! My name is Melanie Shepardson, and I am the Resource Room teacher at ZQuest.  I am very eager to start my 3rd year teaching at ZQ! I have loved collaborating with the excellent staff and students.  I am excited to dive into learning again!

 I was born and raised in Zeeland with my parents and three other brothers. Yes, all brothers.  I graduated in 2013 from Zeeland East. During my time in Zeeland, I enjoyed being a part of the Dance Program in high school as well as dancing at Zeeland Recreation.  I was a member of the Student Senate and enjoyed Dutch Dancing during Tulip Time.  I am thrilled to be teaching in a district that has had a huge impact on my love of learning and school experience. 

Before ZQuest,  I graduated from Calvin College, now Calvin University, in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. From there, I was a long term substitute in Zeeland and then taught as a resource room teacher for almost two years at a charter school in Muskegon. My husband, Oliver, and I have been married for 3 years and we recently purchased an 1880 farmhouse in Overisel.  It has been nice being so close to the Zeeland community. We have three high energy pups that keep us busy. When I am not at school, I enjoy reading, renovating parts of my home, and spending time with my family and pups. In the summer,  we enjoy taking our boat to nearby lakes to go fishing and enjoy the sun. We also enjoy camping  and exploring all the beautiful parts of Michigan!

portrait of blonde womanHello ZQuest family!

My name is Lorna Bratton and I am so excited to begin my 4th year at ZQuest (and 15th year teaching) as the K-8 Spanish teacher. 

A little about my background... I moved to Zeeland at the age of 3 from the Columbus, OH area. The 3rd of 5 children, I attended Zeeland Public Schools for my K-12 education. After graduating from Zeeland High School (yes, at that time there was only one!), I attended St. Thomas Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, from which I earned a double major in Spanish and Communication with an emphasis in Public Speaking. I also earned my K-12 teaching certificate before graduating in the spring of 2006. During my college career, I was a member of the Varsity Softball team and traveled to and lived in Salamanca, Spain for a semester. I was blessed to be able to travel to many European countries during my 4 months abroad. The summer after graduation, I moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico to fully immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking country… although I already had a broad knowledge of the language and culture before living there, this was the time and place in my life that I felt like I really fell in love with Spanish. In the summer of 2007, I accepted a high school teaching position in Arizona and stayed there for 11 years. During that time I earned my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix (2010). After having my first child in 2017, I realized how much I wanted for him to get to be a bigger part of his grandparents’, aunts’/uncles’ and cousins’ lives, so I made the move back to Zeeland in the spring of 2018. 

It was only a few months later that I was honored to accept the K-8 Spanish teacher position at ZQuest. During my 1st 3 years here, I have been amazed at how welcomed I felt by the staff, students and families. I look forward to continuing to build upon those relationships this year again and for the years to come. I feel so lucky to be able to have students year after year, to be a witness to their growth in the Spanish language over time, but also in deepening our relationships.

Finally, during my free time, my 2 children (Conrad and Frida) and I love to camp, grill, take our miniature schnauzer (Lola) for walks, go to the beach and pretty much do anything playing outside and spending time with our extended family. This year is going to be another exciting one filled with love, laughter and lots of fun! I can’t wait!!

portrait of brunette woman with long hairHello! My name is Krista Schopmeyer and I am thrilled to be a part of the ZQuest staff again this year.  I am a graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Elementary Education as well as a Master of Arts in Education. I am passionate about supporting students as they understand their learning process and develop their skills and abilities.

I began my career in North Carolina, teaching primarily Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten. I loved guiding children to become successful students as they developed their curiosity and discovery into life-long learning practices.  After returning to Michigan to be closer to family, I joined Zeeland Public Schools as an interventionist before becoming the Intervention Teacher at ZQuest.  I love the way ZQuest encourages students to take ownership of their learning and empowers them to become independent learners.

My husband, Jesse, and I have been married for 15 years;  our son, Owen, is in 6th grade at ZQuest and we have a little girl, Hannah, who will be 2 in November.  We enjoy reading and playing games together, visiting museums in Grand Rapids and Chicago, and spending time with our extended family.

Portrait of blonde woman with glassesHi!  My name is Pat VanderZee, and I am an interventionist for ZQuest.  I love working with the dedicated and talented staff at ZQ and enjoy teaching some really great students.  I am looking forward to another fabulous year!  Before ZQuest, I was in Godwin Heights for 18 years teaching Kindergarten and First Grade classes.  I have a BA in English/Language Arts, and my Masters is in Early Childhood Education.  I live in the Lamont area.  My husband and I are blessed to live near our children and grandchildren.  We spend a lot of our time being a part of renovation projects at my son’s house (built in 1870) and my daughter’s house (built in 1874).  I also cherish my time with my grandchildren and family in general.       

portrait of curly-haired blonde womanI am Micki Hyma, special education paraprofessional for ZQuest. I was born and raised in Holland but currently live in Hudsonville. This is my ninth year working in this position. I feel so fortunate to be able to hang out with not only the kids I get to work with everyday but all of the great kids that attend ZQuest. 

My husband and I have been married for almost 23  years and we have three great kids, two English Mastiffs, and a Yorkie named Tank.  Our oldest son is twenty five and is currently in the nursing program. Our  20 year old son is working for a heating and cooling company. My daughter is 18 and just graduated from West Ottawa this year. She is undecided in what she wants to do but has a job at Gentex starting up soon. 

After our oldest moved out my family decided to open up our empty bedroom and home to foster children. We have been doing this for four years now. We have had many children come and go from our home.  It’s an incredibly unpredictable journey that we enjoy doing and feel very fortunate to be able to help with. 

portrait of curly-haired blonde womanHello my name is Jil Hartman and I am the Student Success Coordinator for ZQuest. My role at Z Quest is to be an extra layer of support for staff and students here at school. I help with behavioral, and  social and emotional support in any situation the teachers think would be helpful for me to come alongside a student and offer extra support. I love that each of my days are different and that I can be available to support any student who might need a little extra love that day. I feel truly blessed to be in this position. I am not an unfamiliar face around school as my kids started at  ZQuest when it first began and I have been an active volunteer ever since. This year my daughter, Maggie, will be a senior at Zeeland West and my son, Gerrit, will be a 11th grader. My husband Chris and I were high school sweethearts who attended different high schools and have been married for 22 years. We are both graduates of Grand Valley State University. When I'm not at school you can usually find me supporting our kids at various events, helping my daughter run her non-profit flower business, Maggie's Flowers,  and doing projects on our 1900 farmhouse. 

Gerrit Van Klaveren, K-5 PE

Gerrit VK PhotoMy name is Gerrit Van Klaveren (Mr. VK)  and I am Canadian. I graduated from Calvin College in 2014 with K-12 physical education and minors in biochemistry and biology. I have taught PE in many locations across the country from New Mexico to New Jersey and now Michigan. Due to visa complications and love (ask me sometime), I went back for my Master’s in Physical Education Pedagogy (2017)  at Western Michigan University. I am married to the wonderful Lauren vK for 3 years, who has a heart for others that is simply contagious.

On the side, I am very active in sports, music, worship, wood projects and recreational activities. Serving, fixing things and helping others brings much joy. Every day, I like to bring an undignified atmosphere where joy and vibrant energy fills my classroom. When students see how much fun being active and moving is, the hope is they will learn to value living a healthy and active lifestyle. More importantly, I emphasize the diversity of our bodies. We all have different gifts and abilities in the areas of team sports, individual sports, recreation and dance. Finding what the students  love will help them to value being active for a lifetime. What a gift, what a blessing it is to be able to share that with everyone I meet and teach!

We are both so excited to be here in Zeeland, and to start a new journey in what I hear and have seen, thus far, as a vibrant, growing and loving community. I am so impressed and so thankful for everyone making my first year amazing! Here to my second year!! GO ZQUEST!

 

Gail Heinemann, K-5 PE

Gail Heinemann photoHello!  My name is Gail Heinemann and I am a Physical Education teacher for Zeeland Public Schools.  I share my time with ZQuest, Roosevelt and Lincoln schools and I have been with the district since 2002.

I currently live in Spring Lake, but I am originally from Westland, MI and I have also lived in Traverse City.   I have a Masters Degree in Recreation Administration and after working in the field, I realized how much I missed working with children.  That is when I decided to go to Grand Valley State University to get my teaching certificate.  I am certified to teach both Physical Education as well as in the classroom.  I did my classroom student teaching in Muskegon Heights and my PE student teaching in Coopersville.  My Passion is teaching the students lifelong skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle!

I have enjoyed being a part of the Zeeland teacher community and continue to look forward to having more great years!

 

Heather KEesler, K-5 Art

Heather Keesler PhotoHi!  I’m Heather Keesler. I am the 5-K visual arts teacher for ZQuest and Roosevelt and shared time at New Groningen. I’m excited to be starting my 3rd year of teaching with Zeeland and my 18th year in education.  Before coming to Zeeland I taught 12 years at Vanderbilt Academy and Holland Public Schools.  I majored in Art and Design with a minor in Elementary Education.  

I absolutely love teaching, and can’t imagine doing anything else!  My favorite media is ceramics!!  I love getting my hands in clay, and building and sculpting with my students.

My husband Cory, my daughter Regan, our pug Paul  and our guinea pig Nacho live in Holland.  My daughter will be starting her sophomore year at East next year!  We love living in a neighborhood with a pool and spend a lot of time swimming and soaking in the sun.  I also love thrift shopping, finding great deals and second hand treasures.

 

Holly Balcer, K-5 Music

Holly Balcer PhotoPlease visit this link to learn about Mrs. Balcer.

Shelby Buster, school social worker

portrait of short-haired woman with glassesHi! I’m Shelby Buster,  the school social worker here at Z-Quest! I have been practicing social work for over seven years and this year will be my second at Z-Quest! I graduated from Wayne State University (located in Detroit) where I received a Masters in Social Work. I strongly believe that anyone, given the right tools, can do anything! I am passionate about making sure all students have the tools to achieve everything they want. I enjoy working with students, families, and teams to make sure that everyone can have access to the tools, resources, and things that they need to be successful in school and in life. I also work at Adams Elementary and have been so fortunate to get to work in Zeeland in two amazing schools. Outside of working with kids and families, I love spending time with my family, playing with my three-year-old daughter Theodora, and crafting in my basement with my Cricut machine and other fun gadgets.

Madison Schierbeek, school psychologist

portrait of red-haired woman with glassesHi there! My name is Madison Schierbeek and I am the school psychologist at ZQuest! I attended Michigan State University for my undergraduate degree (Go Green!) and Grand Valley State University for my Master’s and Specialist’s degree in School Psychology. I am so excited to join the ZQuest team this year, as this is my first year working as a school psychologist. I also spend a bulk of my time servicing Lincoln Elementary, too. Although I find my job extremely fun, I also like to engage in some other hobbies such as spending time with my awesome fiance, our dog Levi, and my wonderful family. I also like to ride dirt bikes and you can always find me drinking coffee and reading on my porch. I am absolutely in love with my job and I make it my mission to help others re-frame and better understand the ways students can use their unique strengths to flourish! We should all first seek to understand, then to be understood. 

Christa Veldkamp, Speech Pathologist

Christa Veldkamp PhotoHi, I’m Christa Veldkamp, the speech and language pathologist at ZQuest Elementary. I attended Calvin College for my undergraduate degree and the University of Northern Colorado for my Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. This is my 5th year working as a speech language pathologist and my 3rd year working at ZQuest.  I also provide services at Adams Elementary School and Creekside Middle School.  I love my job because every day is different and I get the opportunity to work with a variety of students. It is a joy to help kids grow in their speech and language skills. In my free time, I like to be active and outdoors. I love golfing, hiking, camping, skiing/snowboarding, and spending time with my family and friends.