Best of the Bunch Winner 2021

Congratulations to Ms. Katie Hirt on becoming our “Best of the Bunch” winner for 2022! “Best of the Bunch” highlights our best educator or caregiver who goes above and beyond with providing high-quality education, care, and customer service to families.

Ms. Katie is the Lead Pratt Teacher at our Hudsonville AppleTree.


Ms. Katie is patient and kind and gives each child the attention and skills that they specifically need to be successful. If a strategy isn’t working for a child, she will find another one that does. Ms. Katie spends a lot of her free time/break time looking online for strategies, activities and crafts that can be done in addition to the already planned curriculum in the classroom. She also realizes when the kids in either class need to get their wiggles out and will stop what they’re doing, get their wiggles out, and resume the activity when the kids are ready. It’s really evident every day that Ms. Katie genuinely cares about the children in her care and it shows in everything she does! She also has great relationships with parents and families!

Thank you Ms. Katie for all you do for the children and families you serve.

Best of the Bunch Winner 2021

Congratulations to Ms. Ixayana Santos on becoming our “Best of the Bunch” winner for summer 2021! “Best of the Bunch” highlights our best educator or caregiver who goes above and beyond with providing high-quality education, care, and customer service to families.

Ms. Ixayana is the Lead Infant 2 Teacher at our Walker East AppleTree


Parent Testimonial:

“We have had the pleasure of knowing Ixayana for three years. She has taught both of our kids and is also our first call babysitter. Starting at Appletree, we were first-time parents and stressed/worried about EVERYTHING. She put our mind at ease with her consistent care at drop-offs, always listening about our daughter’s night while comforting and cuddling her and giving us extra updates and photos throughout the day without asking. To be very honest, our daughter was a hard baby. Hard! And she was ALWAYS smiling at drop-off with her. When we had our son, we didn’t have any of those same worries just knowing she would be there. She goes above and beyond with caring for children and is very intuitive about their needs. I never have to remind her of anything or give her direction because she’s typically a step ahead of me knowing what they need/want/capable of. I could not think of another person more deserving for the Best of the Bunch award than her!”

Thank you Ms. Ixayana for all you do for the children and families you serve.

MDA Hop A Thon

We are excited to be hosting our annual MDA Hop-a-Thon.

The MDA Hop-a-Thon Program is an educational special event. We will feature disability awareness lessons and hands-on activities for children. On the last day, we hop to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. You can help by sponsoring your child.

Please contact your Program Director for more information and visit to see how you can help today.


Covid 19 Response

The mission of AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool has always been to create a safe environment that earns the trust of the children and families we serve. We are as dedicated to that mission now as we have ever been. AppleTree & Gilden Woods will continue to lead the industry in best practices during this time, a responsibility we do not take lightly.

As we move forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to take a moment and communicate the aggressive measures taken to assure you of our steadfast commitment to the health and safety of our AppleTree & Gilden Woods families.

Health & Hygiene

·         Required team members to assure all children’s hands are washed upon arrival at the school.

·         Performed temperature screenings of every child, parent/guardian, vendor and team member who enters the building. Children’s temperature will be taken again at lunch each day. Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above will not be allowed access to the school.

·         Confirmed vender procedures for sanitizing and preventing the spread of illness prior to allowing them entry into the schools.

·         Implemented a health screening for all parents, children and team members, those who display any of the following symptoms will not be allowed in the school:

o   New onset cough or worsening cough

o   Sore throat

o   Shortness of breath

o   Fever now or in the last 48 hours

·         Advised team members that face coverings will be provided and they are strongly encouraged to wear one during their shift (unless otherwise required by the local health department).


Cleaning & Disinfecting

·         Utilized disinfectant foggers are used twice a week in the school.

·         Sanitized the school entry door handles with increased frequency between the hours of 6am-10am and 3pm-6pm.


Preparedness & Planning

·         Increased janitorial supply purchases (i.e. soap, gloves, sanitizing solutions, etc.) and instructed the schools to store them in a locked space to monitor proper usage to ensure an adequate amount of materials will be available for future use.

·         Canceled all upcoming parent involvement events to reduce the number of non-essential persons entering the school.

·         Prohibited all non-vender visitors (i.e. guest readers, enrichment program providers, etc.).

·         Canceled all non-essential gatherings (i.e. trainings, orientation, CDA, staff meetings, etc.) to reduce the number of non-essential persons entering the schools and Central Services.

Operating Policies

·    Created and implemented a Covid-19 Policy to include the following content:

o   Reinforced hygiene practices.

o   Intensified cleaning and disinfecting efforts.

o   Assessed the health of children, parents/guardians, vendors, and team members who enter the school.

·         Created and implemented a COVID-19 Travel Policy to include the following content:

o   Required all families, vendors, and team members to complete a travel questionnaire.

o   Upon completion, admin team members will assess the results and determine if/when they may enter the school.

·         Suspended classrooms from implementing family-style meals, instructing one team member to serve all food to children.

·         Implemented strategies for social distancing in the classroom including the following:

o   Limit to two children in each learning center whenever possible. 

o   Do not have children wait in line for handwashing. Only have one child at a time at the sink.

o   Implement handwashing songs that are at least 20 seconds long to support children’s learning of amount of time for washing hands.

o   Utilize both mealtime tables to eliminate close physical contact for eating meals.

o   Only allow 2-3 children on an outdoor play structure at a time

o   Eliminate any curriculum component (i.e. circle time, large group, small groups) that involves children hugging, shaking hands or otherwise touching.

o   Only allow 2-3 children at a time for small group instruction. When the number of children in care changes, please adjust the total amount of children in each small group.

o   Encourage children to eliminate physical contact as much as possible.

o   Create standing spaces to eliminate bunching together when lining up to go from one location to another (i.e. outside).

o   Ensure that children’s rest mats are place at a minimum of 6 feet apart.

·         Created and implemented a Child Drop Off and Pick Up Policy to include the following:

o   Parents/Guardians will drop off and pick up their child(ren) through classroom exterior/emergency exit doors to minimize the amount of people going in/out of the school.


·         Created and shared several  Frequently Asked Questions emails with all families.

·         Notified team members on face covering expectations and provided them with the following information:

o   The correct way to wear and remove a mask.

o   How to introduce children to the concept of teachers wearing mask.

o   How to respond to children’s questions about masks.

We hope these actions give you peace of mind so you may remain confident in knowing that AppleTree & Gilden Woods is the best child care option for your child and family. Please know that our admin team members and Central Services office remains available should you have any questions or concerns. We welcome your feedback regarding our COVID-19 response.

Best of the Bunch Nominee’s

Those who were nominated are part of the special bunch who go above and beyond for their work and the families they serve. We want to recognize those who still make a difference as a teacher and support our schools to better serve our community.

Hannah Tobar-Knapp

Lindsey DeMott-Walker West

Skylar Hayes-Standale

Brittney Simonds-Cascade

Bethany Payne-Cascade 2

Katie MacDonald-Walker East

Lili Penny & Maggie Fenner-Otsego

Sydney Parker-Rockford


Emily Peless-Kentwood

August Allen-Monroe

Ariel Buckhannon-East Lansing

Molly Drubin-Howell


Gilden Woods Program Director Melissa Joyce Works for the Hugs

Metro Parent Article

We love our team members! They are passionate and full of excitement to come to work and serve our families. It is a pleasure to introduce one of our dedicated Program Directors from our New Hudson school. She is an amazing leader and role model. Thank you to her and our teams for all you do! #gildenwoods #detroitchildcare #teachersrock #GWleadershipteam


2019 Golden Apple Recipients!

Each year AppleTree & Gilden Woods award their top-performing schools the Golden Apple Award based on the Quality Assessment System. Corporate Quality Assessment representatives make quarterly visits to each location. These visits consist of classroom observations, building, and grounds examinations, teacher qualifications, and paperwork reviewing, and safety and sanitation inspections.

It is with great pride that we congratulate the recipients of our Golden Apple Award for 2019!

A huge round of applause to the following schools:



Cascade Academy

Grand Ledge










Walker East


Best of the Bunch Winner

Congratulations to Ms. Angie Grooms on becoming our “Best of the Bunch” winner for Winter 2020! “Best of the Bunch” highlights our best educator or caregiver who goes above and beyond with providing high quality education, care and customer service to families.

Ms. Angie is the Lead Infant Teacher at Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool in Haslett, MI.

Haslett Testimonial:

“Not only does Angie set the stage for being an amazing nurturer while the children are in her room, but she maintains relationships with these children and their families throughout their journey through our school. Her warm and inviting personality reassures any new family that their children will be left in the best hands.”

Thank you Ms. Angie for all you do for the children and families you serve.

AppleTree & Gilden Woods named one of Top 50 Companies to Watch

AppleTree & Gilden Woods was honored by Michigan Celebrates Small Business on May 8th in Lansing at the Breslin Center. This prestigious award recognizes and honors Michigan Small Businesses and the people who advocate and support them. Thank you to our families, team members and administrative teams for all of your hard work and dedication to our schools.

Commerce Twp Wins Hulafrog’s Most Loved Award For Best Local Preschool

Our newest location in Commerce Twp has won Hulafrog’s 2019 Most Loved award for best local preschool. This award honors local businesses that parents adore most. Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to Hulafrog for this honor and to our awesome Commerce Twp Community for your votes!

Hulafrog is a website and newsletter for families to connect with local events and businesses and keep them integrated into their communities.

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