Strong Roots & Intentional Approach
Because We Care
From the beginning, the company’s focus has always been on the children we care for. Every decision at AppleTree and Gilden Woods is based on a single question:
“Will this benefit children in a positive way?”
Until we can say “yes,” we keep searching for a solution.
AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool locations are a family of child care locations. Inside and out, our program is designed for a positive experience for child and parent alike. We provide a safe environment for children ages six weeks to school-age in facilities that feature secure web camera access for parents.
Mission, Vision, Values
To provide the highest quality educational programming in a safe, nurturing child-centered environment that earns the trust of the children and families we serve.
To change the way early childhood educators and early childhood education is viewed. It is to develop professionals whom are respected for their contributions to future generations and society as a whole. It is to develop professionals who conduct themselves in a manner that earns the respect they deserve as early childhood professionals. We will become the preferred place to work in early childhood education because of our culture, shared values, and commitment to people development. Developing people who live out our mission every day.
- Provide a comprehensive environment that meets children at their unique developmental stage
- Nurture positive self-esteem by providing an environment for successful experiences.
- Encourage emotional development and social skills through providing acceptable ways to express thoughts and feelings, learning to recognize and accept emotions in others.
- Support the physical development of large motor skills through outdoor and indoor activities as well as fine motor development through the use of manipulative toys, blocks, puzzles, writing utensils, and other small instruments.
- Facilitate cognitive development and critical thinking skills by broadening the child’s hands-on experiences to increase their knowledge base, concepts and problem solving skills.
- Develop language, literacy skills and multilingual skill and appreciation through stories, music and songs, dramatic play, group discussion, and a print rich environment.
- Foster responsibility for oneself in self-help, health, safety and interpersonal areas and to facilitate appropriate independence.
- Enhance creativity by offering many kinds of materials and experiences in music, art, dramatics and literature.
Our Philosophy of Early Childhood Education
Our play-based program’s philosophical principles are based upon current best practices for educating young children, knowledge of child development, and theories of child behavior.
Our primary philosophical beliefs are:
- All children have the right to be nurtured, respected, and embraced as competent (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998).
- Children construct knowledge by active participation with materials and the environment (DeVries,1994).
- Purposeful play is when children learn through the process of their efforts (Bruski & Ettema, 2004)
- Children should be guided through both child- and teacher-planned activities that are purposeful and enhance children’s skills in all areas of development (Smilansky, 1990).
- It is necessary to emphasize the development of the “whole child” with a focus on promoting social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development (Hendrick, 2001).
- Assessment of children should be on-going, reflective of children’s experiences, and occur within the context of daily classroom activities (Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992).
- Collaboration between families and teachers supports the development of the child and home-school relationships (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997).
The role of the adults in the environment is to reflect the philosophy of the program. These beliefs give purpose to our program and define our practice.
Quality of Care
Safety & Environment
From the security of fingerprint and code access doors, which allow only our enrolled families access into our facilities, to our secure AppleCam system, AppleTree and Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool offer a safe and nurturing environment for all children and provide you with peace of mind. We safeguard your child through our strict check-in and check-out procedures and by securing school doors with an electronic fingerprint or code access doors.
There is no more important priority for parents or for AppleTree and Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool than safety. On all levels, our safe and secure environment allows your child the comfort to be himself or herself, thus nurturing their growth and development.
Visitor precautions: A visitor who is not familiar to our staff or if the school in lock down, a phone is available in the vestibule at the front door to communicate with the Program Director and/or Assistant Director. Photo ID is required from all unfamiliar visitors including non-enrolled families, vendors and anyone authorized for pickup. Teachers and staff can instantly access the names of individuals who are approved for drop-off and pick-up.
Livestream Video Feed
For your peace of mind, we also offer secure webcam access to your child’s room. Viewable only to those with a username and password, our Livestream Video Feed allows you to check in on your child throughout the day. It’s become a hallmark of AppleTree and Gilden Woods and a feature our parents couldn’t live without!
Electronic Daily Reports
Our currently enrolled parents have “real-time” access to their child’s day at AppleTree or Gilden Woods through our online Electronic Daily reporting system. Parents can easily access their children’s feedings/meals & snacks, medication distribution, rest time/nap time, and activity & interest information from their day on a computer or mobile device.
Our administration members conduct monthly fire drills with all staff and children. Tornado drills are also performed in May – September at all AppleTree and Gilden Woods locations. Emergency drills and reviews are completed quarterly.
Twice a year, our administration and teachers review the Emergency Procedures Plan so that all members of our team understand their role in the following situations: fire, tornado, chemical spill, toxic gas, sewage backup, flood, power outage, blizzard, serious illness, or serious accident.
Additionally, annually we have our procedures reviewed by a third-party safety and security consultant in regards to best practices and efficiency.
A Child-Centered Design
Our intentional approach to early childhood development and learning extends all the way to how our schools are designed. Many of our schools have built-in storage cubbies for car seats and cubbies for children’s belongings to make drop-off and pick-up easier. Plus, special carpet was chosen to minimize VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions, providing safety while children explore their surroundings. Our schools’ décor includes earthtones and woodland themes to create a peaceful and natural feel. Many of our state-of-the-art playgrounds include privacy fencing to maintain children’s safety while they enjoy outdoor play time. In case of inclement weather, children develop gross motor skills in our spacious activity rooms.
Many of our schools’ activity rooms are equipped with a fun landscape that encourages active social-emotional learning. This structure includes a bank, café, animal hospital, and other community buildings.
Sanitation and healthy hygiene habits are not only modeled and taught to our AppleTree and Gilden Woods children but are important components of our quality assessment program. Hand-washing, cleanliness, healthy eating, daily exercise, and proper rest are all encouraged, modeled, and taught at AppleTree and Gilden Woods.
We expect that children whom are ill or unable to participate in the daily activities at AppleTree and Gilden Woods will be kept home until they have had ample opportunity to rest and get well.
At AppleTree and Gilden Woods, we proudly serve balanced meals. Our menu meets USDA standards and offers servings from the following five food groups each day:
In our continual efforts to provide the highest quality of care for your child, we implemented a teeth-brushing program called Pedal’s Polishers. While we focus on dental health in February for National Children’s Dental Health Month each year, we added this age-appropriate dental health regimen while children are at AppleTree/Gilden Woods.
Our teeth-brushing program at the school includes all children aged 6 weeks – 4 years old. Infants (4 months and older) use an infant toothbrush, designed to help keep gums healthy even before the first tooth appears, with water (not toothpaste) to rinse the mouth. Children in toddler rooms and older are encouraged to brush their teeth using a child’s toothbrush and toothpaste that is provided by AppleTree/Gilden Woods after eating lunch.
Caregivers & Teachers
Our caregivers and teachers bond with your child and family to establish a partnership that fosters security and a sense of belonging for your child. They have the experience, expertise, and education necessary to support the age group of children they will be working with. Our open lines of communication between parents and teachers build a strong partnership that enhances your child’s care and education.
All educators and administrative staff must undergo background and health screenings, a criminal background check through the Department of Human Services and State Police, verification of education credentials, and a thorough review of personal references.
Health & Safety
Each of our caregivers and teachers goes through a complete, detailed training program during their first week of employment. Training topics include state-specific licensing rules, child abuse, and neglect, fire safety, childcare and sanitation regulations, as well as company policies and procedures. In addition, all educators and administrative staff are required to complete training in first aid and CPR annually. Staff who transport children on our activity buses undergo a driving history check and must obtain a chauffer’s license.
Each school is led by an experienced Director who has an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree. Directors are responsible for the overall operation of their school, staff management, and training, and implementing best customer service practices with a dedication to quality.
In addition, our corporate training instructors provide on-going direction to our teaching professionals and have degrees in early education and many years of experience working with children.
Every educator receives training that fulfills and exceeds state requirements for professional development. Our proprietary training program educates caregivers and teachers on current best practices in child development, health and safety standards, curriculum and classroom practices, parent/caregiver relationships, and other early childhood education topics.
Through their employment with us, our educators are provided a subscription to an online professional development system that offers a wide assortment of courses that award continuing education credits (CEUs) upon completion as well as proprietary courses created by corporate training instructors.
Annually, AppleTree & Gilden Woods organize an Employee Development Day that includes workshops specific to the curriculum that we use as well as broad best practice topics. By arranging these development days, we can ensure our teachers are best prepared to care for and educate the children and families that we serve.
We provide a full day of Professional Development on an annual basis. All team members spend a full day gaining new knowledge and deeper skill sets in child development and best practices! The theme this year is BIG HEARTS shaping little minds.
AppleTree Golden Apple Award
The quality of care and education that we provide each child is AppleTree and Gilden Woods’ first and foremost concern. In order to make certain our standards are being met, AppleTree and Gilden Woods have developed the Golden Apple Quality Assessment Program. This program helps to ensure adherence to our corporate standards in educational practices and curriculum, conduct, safety, policy, and programming.
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. Our high standards are what our parents have come to expect at AppleTree and Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool.
Best of the Bunch
Each year, we recognize an outstanding individual as the “Best of the Bunch” out of hundreds of AppleTree & Gilden Woods caregivers and teachers. This dedicated professional is recognized for providing outstanding early education, care, and service to children and families. Congratulations and all you do for our schools and families!
- Angie Grooms, 2020 Recipient, Haslett, MI
- Heather Green, 2019 Recipient, Rockford, MI
- Pennie Armstrong, 2018 Recipient, Haslett, MI
- Carol Rothley, 2017 Recipient, Monroe, MI
- Elizabeth Triesenberg, 2016 Recipient, Rockford, MI
- Amy Hilzey, 2015 Recipient, Knapp Corner, MI
- Jenny Vidal, 2013 Recipient, Kentwood, MI
- Anna Torres, 2012 Recipient, East Lansing, MI
- Stephanie Houseman, 2012 Recipient, Walker, MI
- Elizabeth Lewis, 2011 Recipient, Rockford, MI
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.
Winter 2020 Nominees: 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
Angie Grooms, 2020 Recipient, Haslett, MI
“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.”