Judith Schwanke, Center Director
Meet Judith Schwanke, Our Center Director
At KinderCare Since: 1991
Education: Bachelor of Arts
Meet Judie Schwanke! She is the Center Director at Oak Grove Knowledge Beginnings in Vadnais Heights, MN. Judie attended the University of Wisconsin, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. She has been with KinderCare for over 30 years. Every day, Judie looks forward to helping children learn through play. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” – Mr. Rogers. Outside of work, Judie enjoys crafting, going on mini-adventures, and spending time outdoors with her family.
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.
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.
Before- and After-School Programs (5–12 Years)
You can count on us to provide reliable care for your school-ager while you’re at work, with safe transportation from our center to your child’s school and back! Whether your child wants to start a drama club, build a volcano, or create a comic book, they will have a place to follow their dreams. Your child will start and end the day with a whole lot of fun!
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.
Elementary School Distance Learning
Healthy bodies, happy hearts, growing minds. We make distance learning easy on your whole family! Our teachers are trained to facilitate safe and dynamic learning experiences online and in-person. Since every school has their own learning plan, we’ve added flexible enrollment options to meet your family’s needs. Whether you choose to enroll full-time, part-time, or before and after school, we’re here for you!
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.)
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!
Our son Brock started at Knowledge Beginnings (Vadnais Heights) this past August, 2012. Prior to his enrollment, we looked at many different pre-schools. I was a very anxious and apprehensive dad. I was the youngest child of a youngest child, so I was fortunate to always have family members around to watch me. As such, I was staunchly against the thought of enrolling Brock in any pre-school. I can’t tell you how wrong I was. The staff at Knowledge Beginnings has been nothing short of fantastic. Top to bottom everyone has been so welcoming and so kind. The atmosphere at the school is just wonderful. It’s really turned a difficult decision into an easy transition for our family. We have not had a second thought about our choice of schools. While each member of the staff has had a tremendously positive impact on Brock, I would like to especially thank Jenni (Brock’s Homeroom teacher), & Jen (Brock’s morning teacher). As a homeroom teacher, we could not have asked for better than Jenni. She’s a perfect fit for Brock. She’s always there for him with whatever he needs; be it a hug, a kind ear, a helping hand, or a bit of discipline to keep him in line (he takes after his mother, you know). Her communication with us has always been top notch and the pictures that she sends out help us feel like we’re with Brock during his fun day at school. When Brock first started out at KB, there were many “hard drop-offs”. Lots of tears, from not only Brock, but mom and yes, I’ll admit dad too. During those tough mornings Jen was always there to let us know that better days were ahead. It made a world of difference to know that Brock’s sadness would be extremely short-lived and the fun was just around the corner. Thank you again to everyone at Knowledge Beginnings. It’s really given this dad piece of mind to know that the “pre-school moms” are always watching out for his little boy.”
Scott L. - KinderCare Parent
My children have attended Knowledge Beginnings for some time now and I have never been so happy with the choice I made! All of the teachers are compassionate and very caring, to all children not just the children in their classes. They have many activities and have a daily schedule that teachers follow which really prepare children for school. I loved the sight word flash cards that my children received. They helped my children learn to read. From nutritional lunches, to the compassion and understanding that my children needed, to beginning steps toward learning, Knowledge Beginning provided my children all of these and more! I would highly recommend Knowledge Beginnings to anyone looking for a wonderful child development center that will provide learning, nurturing, and a fun environment!”
Lori M. - KinderCare Parent
Rena, I really wanted to send a few memories and nice thoughts about teachers that Calvin has had at Knowledge Beginnings. There are quite a few great memories that I have about Knowledge Beginnings, but I am going to list three that focus on some special teachers there. 1. One of the very first things that so impressed me early on when we had made the decisions to move Calvin from his current daycare to Knowledge Beginnings was how knowledgeable the staff seemed to be instantly about Calvin. I loved that Consuelo and Stephanie and Sahnaj seemed to know details about his personality that made me confident that they had really spent time with him. One day Consuelo brought me a very special laminated book of pages with photos of Calvin. I was so touched and adored the great book that obviously had taken some time for her to create. What a kind and wonderful gesture. I was extremely touched. 2. Nikki was Calvin's second teacher. She was always so talkative and informative about Calvin also mentioning very specific details about his likes and dislikes what he had done during the day that made her laugh etc, it was so comforting knowing that Nikki was paying that close attention to him. The very best Mother's Day present that I ever received was one that Nikki and Calvin gave to me - a precious miniature flower pot with candy inside and his hand prints all around the outside edges to make a decoration. That is something that I am sure I will keep forever. 3. Now Calvin is in Becky's class. One of the first memories that I have about Becky is that I heard wonderful things about her before even meeting her. A few families gave me rave reviews, "Becky is the best" and so you can imagine that I went into this third class with confidence knowing that he would be in good hands. Becky is very, very good with Calvin and I imagine she is with all of her students. I am so impressed that he goes to her every morning without a tear. She must have an amazing amount of patience and kindness in her heart and I am so lucky that Calvin can spend his days with her. One of the things that make me smile every day is how Becky and Calvin do their special "High Five" and "knuckles". It is so adorable and I love that she taught him something so cute. Generally I can't say enough great things about the amazing staff at Knowledge Beginnings. It is heads and tails about any other daycare that I have experienced or visited. Please do whatever you can to let these very special teachers know how much they are loved and appreciated by us parents. There is nothing more comforting than to know that you are bringing your child to a place every day where he is truly going to be loved and cared for and I am exceedingly grateful to all of the teachers, staff, cooks, and you as well Rena. PLEASE share these thoughts with the teachers. We adore them.”
Michelle and Eric N. - 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.