If Sylvania, Ohio, isn’t on your list of top travel spots, perhaps that should change. There’s one place in town that’s definitely worth a visit, and that’s the KinderCare center led by 2014 Best in Class honoree Kristie Mundt. Kristie’s center is the kind of place where everyone’s welcome, and everyone is family. If ever a center exuded the service value “My team works together to make our center warm and welcoming,” it’s this one.
“You will always hear singing, laughter, and praise in my center,” said Kristie. “Drive-by conversations are not allowed. My families need to know they matter, as do my staff.”
While Kristie’s relationships with her center families are great – she didn’t lose a single family when the center’s management team changed a few years ago – district manager Nancy Sears explained that what makes Kristie a Best in Class leader is the way she invests in her staff.
“She helps them with their struggles – lesson plans, children and family needs,” said Nancy, whose office is inside the center. “She’s present for them. Everyone’s comfortable going to her. She makes her staff feel like their work matters.”
For Kristie, this attitude is simply how things ought to be. She understands the day-to-day challenges her teachers face because she has been in their shoes starting her career with Knowledge Universe almost 10 years ago as an infant teacher. She says constantly looking for ways to inspire her “incredibly smart, talented, and caring group of teachers” and to remind them of the important work they do.
One of those teachers, Joy Semelka, won a Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Award in 2013. Her award, a surprise to both Joy and Kristie, happened on live television. While Kristie knew Joy was an incredible teacher – Kristie’s daughter was in Joy’s prekindergarten class the year before – sharing that news with the community was a moment she’ll never forget.
“I had other early childhood educators from competitor centers calling me after that to congratulate her and thank us for putting a spotlight on ECE teachers and what they do for the community,” Kristie said. “I still get goose bumps when I think about it. I have always been happy working here but I am now proud. It’s all about making an impact. We have the opportunity to change the world, literally. How awesome is that?”