Melissa Gudvangen, Center Director
Meet Melissa Gudvangen, Our Center Director
At KinderCare Since: 2020
Education: Bachelor's Degree in Management and a Master's Degree in Leadership and Change
Favorite Children's Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Meet Melissa Gudvangen-Smith! She is the Center Director at Excelsior KinderCare in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Melissa attended the College of St. Scholastica, where she earned both a Bachelor's Degree in Management and a Master's Degree in Leadership and Change. She has been with KinderCare since 2020 was a teacher previously. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family. Her favorite quote is, "There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions - in a way that serves the world and you." - Richard Branson
AMERICA’S MOST ACCREDITED
Nationally only 10% of daycares are accredited - nearly 100% of our learning centers are. That’s a big difference, and that means KinderCare kids are getting the very best. Here’s why.
Excelsior KinderCare Programs
Infant Programs (6 weeks–1 year)
Leaving your baby in someone else’s care is a big step. Everyone at our centers—most importantly, our naturally gifted infant teachers—will work with you to make sure the transition goes smoothly. When you step into our infant classroom, you’ll see how much we want your infant to feel safe, loved, and ready to explore their world.
Toddler Programs (1–2 Years)
Everything in our toddler classroom is designed for little explorers. That’s because a lot is going on at this age. When your child is wandering all over the place, that means they’re learning and discovering new things every day. We’ll help them explore their interests (and find new ones!) as they play and learn.
Discovery Preschool Programs (2–3 Years)
This age is filled with so much wonder and curiosity. That’s why we offer a ton of books and toys and bring artwork down to kids eye level. Children in discovery preschool also begin to learn how we all work together in a classroom. Simple math and science, pretend play, and group play help them get used to a more structured school setting.
Preschool Programs (3–4 Years)
This age is all about expression, when kids really start to form their own ideas about what they want to play and how they want to create. Every day in our preschool classroom, your child will explore science experiments, create artwork, and play pretend—all the skills needed for their big next step: kindergarten!
Prekindergarten Programs (4–5 Years)
When you walk into one of our pre-K classrooms, you’ll see artwork and writing displayed around the room. Labels are everywhere to help kids connect letters with words. You’ll also see pictures on the walls that reflect the families in our community. Your child will also deepen their knowledge in language, math, science, Spanish, and social skills.
School Break Programs (preschool, prekindergarten, and school-age)
Winter break, spring break, summer break—when school’s out (but you still need to work), you can count on KinderCare to provide a safe and supportive learning environment that’s focused on fun. We welcome children ages 5–12 during school break times and make sure they have a sensational, screen-free experience they won’t forget.
Participating Child Care Aware Center
KinderCare partners with Child Care Aware® of America to offer fee assistance for Active Duty military families and flexible support to fit their needs when care at a Child Development Center on the installation is not available.
Learning Adventures - Enrichment Program
Cooking Academy™ (3 – 12 Years)
In Cooking Academy, kids learn new recipes from cultures around the world and develop a healthy relationship with food. They’ll whip up everything from Southwest rainbow lettuce wraps to pumpkin muffins, building their skills in STEM, communication, and more along the way. And yes—little chefs get to eat their culinary creations!
Music Explorers™ (2 – 4 Years)
KinderCare families are already giving a standing ovation to our newest Learning Adventures program: Music Explorers! Kids will learn to sing, move, listen, play instruments, and even create their own tunes. Our original curriculum blends math, science, social studies, literacy, and mindfulness (think yoga!) for a uniquely KinderCare way of learning the foundations of music.
Phonics Adventures® (2 – 4 Years)
Learning how to read is a whole lot of fun at KinderCare! We help kids grow to love books and words (and get ready for kindergarten) in our Phonics Adventures program. From discovering the basics of vowels to practicing poetry, kids learn all about letters and sounds in small-group lessons made just for their age group. (Bonus: Kids who attend our phonics program are more prepared than their peers for school—and we have the data to prove it.)
Spanish Adventures provides young learners with a foundation for later success with the Spanish language. Music, games, children's Spanish literature, and other tools give children multiple opportunities to hear, practice, and see Spanish language to develop vocabulary and conversation skills. Curriculum includes lessons on greetings, numbers, colors, animals, family, body parts, and pets, as well as how to engage conversationally during common scenarios at home, a restaurant, or at the zoo.
STEM Innovators (3-8 Years)
You’ve probably heard a lot about how important STEM education is for your child, but what does that really mean? Our STEM Innovators program takes kids’ natural ability to make sense of the world and applies it to robotics, chemistry, coding, geology, and more. While your child experiments, they’ll discover how to use technology to do amazing things!
We're the only company in early childhood education to select teachers based on natural talent. Being a great educator isn't enough though. KinderCare teachers are also amazing listeners, nurturers, boo-boo fixers, and smile-makers. Put more simply, we love our teachers and your child will, too.
Meet just a few of our amazing KinderCare teachers!
A KINDERCARE TEACHER WITH
An Artist's Heart
"My classroom is full of art!” says Mary Annthipie-Bane, an award-winning early childhood educator at KinderCare. Art and creative expression, she says, help children discover who they really are.
We put our best-in-class teachers in a best-in-class workplace. We're so proud to have been named one of Gallup's 37 winners of the Great Workplace Award. When you put great teachers in an engaging center, your children will experience an amazing place to learn and grow.
Don't take our word for it. Hear what our families have to say about our amazing center!
My daughter has been going to Kindercare since she was three months old. I have been so amazed at all the things she has learned. The teachers have been nothing but supportive to my daughter's development and learning. They have also been supportive to our whole family during my husband's multiple year long deployments over seas.
Jennifer Howe - KinderCare Parent
Why I chose kindercare...when we started looking for daycares before our son was born I wasn't sure about in home or a center. I toured about 15 places before we chose kindercare. We love our daycare. We love everything you do with our son and for our son. You spend 12 weeks with this little being attached to you and then you have to entrust him to someone else and that is hard. Everyone is wonderful, thoughtful and caring. I love the curriculum. I love the free play. I love the schedule you keep him on. He does things for you that I can't get him to do at home. I love that you are about playing and interacting with the kids instead of being on a computer charting everything they do. I am grateful that you have taught and told me what to do to be a better mom ( when to change the nipples on our bottles, when to start feeding him more solids). I didn't know these things being a first time mom. I just love knowing that you love my child as much as I do. We as a family can't say enough wonderful things about kindercare! I tell everyone I know how wonderful you are!
Miriam - KinderCare Parent
Who Are KinderCare Families?
They hail from hundreds of cities across the country from countless backgrounds, and proudly represent every walk in life. What our families have in common, though, is the want to give their children the best start in life. We are so proud to be their partner in parenting.
Hear from just a few of our amazing KinderCare families.
A Globe-Trotting Family Finds A
Home in Houston
Four young children, four different passports, two languages, two full-time jobs…oh, and a few triathlons thrown in for good measure. Meet the globe-trotting Colettas—a family on the go.
Frequently Asked Questions
What accreditations does KinderCare have?
We are your trusted caregiver. Our centers are state-licensed and regularly inspected to make sure everything meets or exceeds standards, including child-to-teacher ratios and safe facilities. Our centers aren’t just licensed—most are accredited, too! Find out more.
Do you offer part-time schedules at Excelsior KinderCare?
Everybody’s schedule is different. We’re happy to offer quality, affordable part-time and full-time childcare. Drop-in care may also be available. Reach out to your Center Director to learn more.
How does naptime work at Excelsior KinderCare?
Our teachers meet every child’s needs during naptime. Our teachers know how to get babies to nap. In fact, they are pros at getting children of any age to nap. Visit our article on "10 Ways We Help Kids Get a Great Daycare Nap" to learn more.
Do you support alternative diets?
We strive to be as inclusive as possible. To that point, we provide a vegetarian option at mealtime, take care to not serve common allergens and can adapt menus based on your child’s food sensitivities. If your child has additional needs, we’ll work with you to figure out a plan.
Are meals included in tuition? Can I choose to send my child with lunch?
We provide nutritious meals and snacks developed by a registered dietician to meet the needs of rapidly growing bodies and minds. If your child has special dietary requirements and you would prefer to bring in their lunch, please make arrangements with the center director.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
Every child begins toilet learning at a different age. Until your child shows an interest in toilet learning, we’ll provide diaper changes on an as-needed basis. When your child shows an interest, we'll discuss how to work together to encourage toilet learning.