Baldwin resident offers busy parents extra care and education for kids

BALDWIN — In a low population region like Lake County, some amenities can be absent, even with childcare. While the Baldwin School District offers a variety of services, it can't do everything. That's where Doresa Walton-Mack comes in.

Walton-Mack established Reading Rainbow Early Childhood Development in Baldwin. There, kids as young as six months and as old as 15 years can be not only cared for, but educated during the day and after school. She presents the kids in her care with lessons, provides them with activities, exposes them to a variety of media and even takes them on field trips.

Walton-Mack graduated from Michigan State University in engineering and then worked in the field for most of her life in Georgia. She always harbored a passion for education, however, and when she moved back to Michigan, she seized it as an opportunity.

"I've always dreamed of being a teacher, but I went into another field," said Walton-Mack. "Eventually I took part in this program where we had to state what our goals were. I wanted to come back here and be closer to my sister. When I moved back, my daughter had two kids of her own and she needed daycare and that was the beginning."

Walton-Mack then received accreditation to care for children and teach them. She converted the basement of her home into a classroom and play area and started reaching out to gather the resources she needed to begin her work.

She takes part in reading programs with the Pathfinder and Ludington libraries, receives exercise programs from District Health Department No. 10, gets curriculum assistance from Great Start Connect and gets other materials from the Association of Child Development.

She uses these resources in a hands-on technique to help kids grow.

"Between the ages of zero and 5 is when the brain is being developed," Walton-Mack explained. "So it is important you take every opportunity to teach kids during that time, or else they could be lagging behind later in life."

Walton-Mack said the key is one-on-one attention. She gives each child an Ages & Stages cognitive test when they begin with her to gauge where they are at academically. After that, it becomes an issue of ensuring they are taught and challenged in subjects at their level.

"Kids can be here eight to 10 hours a day," said Walton-Mack. "I try to keep them busy in a positive manner."

Walton-Mack wants the people of Lake County to know she is more than just a glorified babysitter; she is an education professional who wants the children of the Baldwin area to grow and enjoy doing so.

"I want to be viewed as the No. 1 choice in childcare and as a caring professional to the development of the community's children," said Walton-Mack. "Teaching is fun for me and I try to make the experience fun for the kids as well."