Dordt College News

Classes begin August 26 at Dordt College

August 13, 2009

New Dordt College Faculty

The new academic year at Dordt college will begin August 26, and students will begin classes in the new Ribbens Academic Complex, a $5.5 million addition and upgrade of Dordt’s first classroom building. The original president’s house located on campus has also been renovated and remodeled and will be used by students and faculty in Dordt’s growing Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Construction of new apartment style housing is now underway, but will not be ready for occupancy until the 2010-11 academic year.

A convocation ceremony marking the start of the new year will be held Friday, Aug. 28, in the B.J. Haan auditorium at 11 a.m. The speaker will be Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, whose topic will be “Witness that Makes a Difference.”

New faculty and staff for the ’09-’10 academic year are the following:


Dr. Joe Kirtland is a physics professor with a Ph.D. from Cornell University, where he also earned his master’s degree and taught courses as a graduate student. Kirtland received a B.Ch.E. (Bachelor in Chemical Engineering) degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, NY. His special interest in the field of physics is fluid dynamics. Kirtland is single, and comes to Sioux Center from Ithaca, NY.


Dr. Jeff Ploegstra is a biology professor with a Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of Iowa, where he also earned his M.S. in biology and a M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) in science education Ploegstra graduated with a B.A. in biology from Dordt College in 1999.

Dr. Ploegstra taught science at Kennedy Senior High School in Cedar Rapids and worked as a research assistant at the University of Iowa on a National Science Foundation (NSF) project. He and his wife, Sara (Dordt Class of 2000) have one son, Benjamin.


Professor Bobbi Sutherland is a history professor who was previously a teaching fellow at Yale University while working on her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies. She has also been a lecturer at Southern Connecticut University.

Sutherland earned a M.A and a M.Phil. at Yale University, and a B.A. from Calvin College, with majors in European history, English, and Latin, a minor in philosophy, and honors in history and Latin. Sutherland wrote her dissertation in the area of late-medieval French social and culinary history. She is single and comes to Sioux Center from New Haven, CT.

Van Tol

Dr. Kathleen Van Tol is an education professor with a Ph.D. in special education from Western Michigan University; a M.A. in teaching and a B.S. in biology from Calvin College; and an endorsement in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) from Grand Valley State University. She was the educational support services coordinator, taught English language learners, and served as curriculum director at Holland Christian High School in Holland, MI.


Professor Dawn Wolthuis is a half-time computer science professor who has a M.S. in mathematics from Michigan State and a B.A. in math from Calvin College. Wolthuis is the Managing Partner of Snupnow LLC, a dot com start-up in Sioux Center that is owned in part by her consulting company, Tincat Group, Inc. She was previously a director of software development for Datatel and director of computer services at Calvin College. In 2004, Wolthuis also filled in for one year in Dordt’s math and computer science department. The wife of Thomas Wolthuis, a theology professor at Dordt, the couple has two daughters, Hope (Meador) and Shanna.


Valorie Zonnefeld is an instructor of mathematics with a Master of Education degree and a B.A. in math education from Dordt College, with an endorsement in K-12 athletic coaching. She also has a middle school endorsement from the University of Sioux Falls.

Zonnefeld has most recently taught algebra and coached volleyball and soccer at Western Christian High School in Hull, and served as an adjunct instructor in mathematics and volleyball coach at Dordt. She also taught at Sanborn Christian and Calvin Christian School in Escondido, CA. Valorie and her husband, Ryan, have three children and live in Sioux Center.


Dr. Ryan Zonnefeld is a professor of education with a Ph.D. from Iowa State University and specialization in educational leadership. He earned his M.A. in educational administration at the University of South Dakota., and his B.A. at Dordt (’97) majoring in education and K-12 music education, with a K-12 athletic coaching endorsement. He also received a middle school endorsement at the University of Sioux Falls.

Zonnefeld was the Director of Assessment and Learning Enhancement and an instructor of education at Northwestern College in Orange City. He has been an administrator at Hull Christian and Sanborn Christian schools, and a teacher at Sheldon Christian, Sanborn Christian, and Calvin Christian in Escondido, CA.


Ross Douma is Dordt's men’s varsity basketball coach. He has a M.A. from Governors State University in University Park, IL, and a B.A. from Northwestern College in Orange City. Douma coached high school basketball for 10 years at Waukee, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn and Chicago Christian. He also served as a teacher, assistant principal and dean of students at those locations.


Michael Garner is an assistant coach in the Defender football program with an M.A. in Education from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, and a B.A. degree from Duke University in North Carolina, where he majored in history and minored in education. Garner has coached and taught for 30 years and was most recently an offensive and defensive line coach at Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, TX. He also coached special teams and offensive and defensive line at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, TX, from 1996-2007.


Brant Steffey is an assistant football coach for the Dordt Defenders with a M.A. Degree in education from East Central University in Oklahoma and a B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. Steffey has previously coached football, recruited student athletes, served as the video coordinator for the football program, and taught physical education classes for grades 9-11, most recently at Grand Prairie High School in Texas. Brant and his wife Valerie have two daughters, Audrey (2) and Hallie (4 months).


Kraig Bleeker is Dordt’s new learning community area coordinator. Bleeker received his B.A. from Dordt in 2003, and his M.Div. degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2008. During his time in California, Bleeker served as a chaplain and as a pastoral intern, mentoring and working with young people, small groups, and the college-age ministry. Kraig and wife Danielle have moved to Sioux Center with their daughter, Kyriana.

De Weerd

Noemi De Weerd is the theater arts department assistant, serving as receptionist, providing clerical support, managing the box office, and supervising workstudy students. Noemi is from Romania, where she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cluj, majoring in Reformed Theology. De Weerd worked four years for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Romania as a justice education and service learning coordinator. She’s also served as a staff director at Inimi Deschise (Open Hearts) Foundation in Bucharest, and together with her husband Scott, at Stepping Forward Ministries in Romania. Since 2008 they have been living in Rock Valley with two children, Izabella (2) and Samuel (4 months).

De Wit

Kyla De Wit is a new admissions counselor from Washington who graduated from Dordt in May with a B.A. in communications and an emphasis in public relations. Kyla and husband Ross live in Orange City.


Laura Eekhoff is executive assistant to the provost. Eekhoff graduated from Dordt College in 1999 with an A.A. degree in secretarial science. She completed a B.A. Degree in business administration at Dordt in 2000. She worked as an office specialist at Krysilis in Forest City, IA, until 2007, when she moved to the institutional advancement team at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, IA.


Todd Montsma is Dordt’s new technical services manager. He received his B.F.A. in 2002 from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and taught at Central Wisconsin Christian School before coming to Dordt in 2007 to be a resident director. Since then he has also been a campus ministries assistant, the campus technical assistant, and assisted as adjunct faculty in teaching motion graphics.


Erica Vonk is an assistant in Dordt’s business administration department, helping faculty and overseeing the student internship program. Vonk graduated from Northwestern College in 2000 with a B.A. in education. She taught for two years in Sioux Falls and most recently spent seven years teaching social studies, business, and computer classes at Akron-Westfield High School. Vonk also volunteers in the community, teaching teenage and adult money management classes. Erica and husband James have two children, Hudson (3), and Aubrey (10 months).


Scott Westra, Hull, began work at Dordt in July as a natural science engineering technician. Westra received his associate’s degree in Applied Science from Northwest Iowa Community College, with an emphasis in manufacturing engineering technology. He was previously employed as a manufacturing engineer at Silent Drive, Inc., in Orange City. Scott and his wife Andrea have two children, Macy (4) and Logan (2). 


Jeff Zomer is the recreation center director and head softball coach. Zomer is a 2006 graduate of Dordt, where he received his B.A. in business administration, with an emphasis in exercise science. Zomer has been an assistant softball coach, an instructor in the HPER Department, an intramural director, head baseball coach, and was a student assistant in the recreation center for three years. He lives in Orange City with wife Samantha and their son Dylan (7 months).


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