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Little Library Provides Books for Neighborhood Kids, Honors Former Board Members

There’s a new reading resource for the neighborhood kids around Ridge Park Charter Academy in Grand Rapids, Mich. A colorful little outdoor library containing children’s books is being installed outside the school for all to use and enjoy.

The library was made possible by staff at the school and was painted by members of Carissa Buursma’s art class with an ocean theme. It features a sea turtle, flowers, and some abstract designs as well.
“We worked in shifts a little bit because of its small size,” Buursma said. “One class picked the theme and the other class started right in on it.”

The outdoor library is dedicated to former Ridge Park School Board members Paul Toohey and Dottie Stiger. Their names are inscribed on a plaque on the outside. Ridge Park Principal Hector Ulloa fondly recalled the impact Toohey and Stiger had on the school and the care they showed the student population.
“Paul was the president when I came to the school and he and Dottie clearly understood Ridge Park,” Ulloa said. “The uniqueness of our population, the history of long-standing teachers, traditions, and achievement, they knew it through and through. They were amazing advocates for Ridge Park. They were phenomenal and they're missed.”

Ulloa said the way Toohey and Stiger represented themselves has impacted the board for years to come.
“There's so much that goes into it,” he said. “When you see a really effective board meeting and they're coming in with notes and questions and we're prepared for a healthy discussion, even if there are conflicts or if there are differing opinions. That's when a board is great, and they helped make Ridge Park what it is now.
“I think that legacy carries over with the people that worked with them. There's kind of this institutional knowledge that passes along the way that we do things. They were awesome.”

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About Ridge Park Charter Academy
Ridge Park Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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