When Kelly Wagman came back to Woodcreek KinderCare in Roseville, Calif., today, it was the completion of a journey she began more than 15 years ago.
The center she once ran is now directed by Melanie DeMarchi, a former teacher whom she hired and mentored. A second generation of families is now enrolled among the center’s 190 children. And Woodcreek KinderCare is now the 1,000th nationally accredited center in the Knowledge Universe family – a historic achievement in the early childhood education (ECE) industry that brought Knowledge Universe leaders to town for a celebration.
“The journey of quality starts every time a child walks through the door,” said CEO of KU Early Learning Programs Elanna Yalow at a morning event to mark the occasion. “Accreditation is just a reflection of what you do every day on behalf of the children.”
Families, children and Sacramento’s famous children’s entertainer, the Pianoman, joined CEO Tom Wyatt, Elanna, Vice President of Quality and Accreditation Kathie Boe, Managing Regional Vice President Tiffany Wright, Regional Vice President for California Brian Cuda, and others to celebrate the 1,000th accreditation and how KinderCare’s achievement can serve as a model for the rest of the ECE industry.
Parents like Jason Honey spoke of the intangible, family feeling they get when they are at Woodcreek KinderCare. “It’s a hug good morning. It’s a hug good bye. They’re entrenched in the child’s lives,” he said.
In a letter sent to mark the achievement, NAEYC Executive Director Rhian Alvin wrote about the center’s connection with its families. “I would submit that what they are feeling is active and engaged young children interacting with dedicated early educators in sophisticated, dynamic and nurturing learning environments.”
Melanie and Kelly both teared up at times thinking of the quality their center has provided for thousands of Sacramento area families, where KinderCare has 20 nationally accredited centers.
“It means the world,” Melanie said. The quality education the teaching staff provides has led some children to skip kindergarten entirely, others to enter kindergarten reading at the first grade level.
“After hearing what facilities go through and how few (in the industry) have it, it’s impressive,” said parent Heidi Steinke.
Before the celebratory event, Woodcreek families said they already knew what it meant that their center was pursuing accreditation and the fact that achieving accreditation is part of the center’s culture, not an end goal.
“It’s a long process,” said Desire Sutton, a mother of two. “It’s there to be practiced.”
Jason added: “It’s confirmation we’re doing the right things as parents and the curriculum is doing the right thing for our children.”
CEO Tom Wyatt recalled the conversation he and Elanna had in 2012 about the pursuit of accreditation for all centers. He said they never hesitated on the pursuit, because “it’s who we need to be. It’s what we owe our families and children.”
Woodcreek KinderCare families told Wyatt they’re seeing that quality in action every day.
California State Assemblywoman Beth Gaines recognized the center with a state certificate of appreciation.
For all the certificates and ceremonial activities, the seals and the stickers now proudly on the Woodcreek entry door window, there was still a clear recognition among the KinderCare team that accreditation points more to an experience than any one time event.
“It’s the way we live every day to provide the highest quality care and education for the children and families we serve,” said Kathie.