Director Spotlight: 20+ Years!

Director Spotlight: 20+ Years!

20directors

These amazing directors have been with Especially for Children for over 20 years! We are incredibly grateful for their hard work, dedication to children and families, senses of humor, commitment to the staff at their centers and so much more.

Read a bit more about (pictured from left to right) Cathie Underwood, Lynn Seltz, Anna Wilson, Fle Jensen, Susan Wilson and Linda Burck below. And if you have something to share about these wonderful people, feel free to post a comment!

What others say…

Cathie M

Cathie has successfully blended her roles of parent, teacher and early childhood professional as she embraces her job as center director. We have seen her in all of those roles since she began working at the center 28 years ago! Thank you, Cathie!

– Priscilla Williams, President

We appreciate Cathie’s positive attitude as she willingly takes on challenges and masters new skills. Her dedication to the Eden Prairie center has never wavered.

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Cathie is a leader who is talented in many areas; she is exceptional in the area of mentoring and training new staff members.  She wants only the best for the children and families.  Together Lynn and Cathie are an impressive leadership team!

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

Cathie is very easy going and is very upfront and personable. What I love is that if you go to her with a simple question you are maybe in the office with her for an extra 10 minutes, still answering the question. I think of her as a Chatty Cathie. She is the glue that hold us together as a team. She is great with the parents, staff and the kids.  

– Jamie, Eden Prairie Teacher

Cathie is easy to talk when you have a problem and is willing to listen and helps find a solution that everyone can deal with. She always refers the children as “Kiddos.” She is very professional as a director. She is helpful and understanding. She keeps everything calm and even-keeled for us.

 Gail, Eden Prairie Teacher


Words from Cathie…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Chaska with my husband, Dave and two boys, aged 13 and 10. (They are both EFC alumni.) I am originally from Faribault and grew up on a farm.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

I love to go to movies, go for walks outside and go on vacation!

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

I love getting to know families and their little ones. It is fun to see the children grow, and it is especially fun to run into them in the community and have them share memories from attending EFC.

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years?

I have always loved working with young children. You learn to be a “Jack of all Trades” in child care centers and learn to remain flexible and willing to try something new.

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

I think there are a lot more regulations and rules. I think it is good to have guidelines, but we don’t want to forget that our main purpose is educating and taking care of young children. We also need to make sure that we keep play-based learning as our main emphasis. Children need unstructured time to be creative and explore the world around them. It doesn’t take long for that time to go away quickly with the little ones entering elementary school.

What has made you stay with EFC?

I think the small, family-owned company has always been appealing to me. I also like getting to know families first hand. It is also fun to work with others who love being around young children just like I do. There are a lot of creative staff and it is exciting to be part of that!

Do you have any special memories of EFC you would like to share?

Every day is always a new fresh day—with no day ever being the same.  That variety combined with smiley faces of young children makes it a special place. I am “Caffee” who works in the “Opfis”—it is fun to have such a title! 

What others say…

Lynn L

Lynn has been the center director of our Eden Prairie center since it opened in 1988. I think she still remembers every family who has ever attended! Along with her incredible memory, Lynn has a real passion for having each classroom adhere to the best early childhood principles every day!

– Priscilla Williams, President

Lynn has strong beliefs and is dedicated to people – staff, children, parents. She has led the Eden Prairie center for 28 years! Thank you, Lynn!

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Lynn is an enthusiastic presence at our Eden Prairie EFC.  She has been at the helm since the beginning and has a passion for being the best when it comes to quality child care and early education!  Lynn brings fun and passion to her life’s work.

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

Lynn is passionate about providing a high quality educational experience for young children. She is also very supportive of families being families and celebrating their time together in their children’s early years.

– Lynn Livingston, Eden Prairie Teacher

Lynn is full of laughter, easy-going and ready to help!

– Sister Mary, Eden Prairie Teacher


Words from Lynn…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in south Minneapolis biking the lakes and Minnehaha Parkway. I received a BS in Elementary Education, was single till 36, met my husband at a Johnny Holm band dance and was married at 36 and had 2 children by 39.  It was a busy 3 years.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

I love to be outside…that doesn’t mean I like to camp and hike; I’m not a lover of bugs and mud. I’ve snowmobiled in West Yellowstone and swam in the Mediterranean. Bonfires in our backyard with neighbors and friends is what I call a great evening.  When and if I retire, I’ll spend more time in the mountains or at the shore. Being inside too long gets me claustrophobic.

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

Working closely with the children and parents is what got me most excited in 1973. Having spent a year in an elementary classroom and seeing parents only occasionally made early childhood and childcare particularly attractive. When parents leave this program I hope they feel thankful for the care and education we have given their children, and know that each child was given the chance to be successful.

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years?

I bring nothing unique but an honest work ethic, an amazing amount of common sense, and a genuine love of children and at 68, it’s what keeps me young.

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

The basic premise on how children develop hasn’t changed. What we do with that knowledge HAS changed and become more deliberate and more technical.

What has made you stay with EFC?

The smaller organization is small enough to have some camaraderie yet offer benefits to its employees . EFC has a “history”, reinventing itself to be the best it can be.

What others say…

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Anna can wear so many hats at once! She is extremely capable and finds ways to make things fun as she interacts with the people around her.

– Priscilla Williams, President

We appreciate Anna’s organizational skills and ability to focus. Her 22 years at the Edinborough center have provided consistently strong leadership. Thank you, Anna!

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Anna has been the leader through many transitions, remodeling, moving, and adding an additional preschool space. She rarely lets anything slip through the cracks; her attention to detail is amazing.  Under her leadership children receive a great early childhood experience at EFC.  I appreciate her positive can do attitude.

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

From the time I interviewed with EFC, Anna has made me feel comfortable and welcome. She is very understanding, supportive and caring.

– Bri, Edina/Edinborough Teacher

Anna is always very understanding, flexible and accommodating with staff needs. She is approachable as a manager and is a very strong person.

Amy, Edina/Edinborough Teacher

Anna is always welcoming to new families and works with them through the transition.

– Barb, Edina/Edinborough Teacher


Words from Anna…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Sweden, and first came to the US in 1990 for a high school exchange program—and stayed!!  I’ve been with EFC since 1994, and worked as an assistant teacher & teacher in the Pre-K classroom before joining the management team in 1996.  I’ve been the director at Edinborough since 2001.  I have a BS in Elementary Education with a Pre-Primary emphasis from St. Kate’s.  I am married, have two teenage daughters, and a two-year old Maltese named Crosby.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

I love to travel and have been all over the world including Israel, Morocco, Greece, China and Australia!  I love spending time with my family and friends, and I enjoy taking my dog for long walks.

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

I love that we get to be part of a family’s life for such a long time; we’ve had families who have been with us for over 10 years!  The connection & trust we develop with our families is amazing!!

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years?

I enjoy celebrating Lucia, and every year our Pre-K class practice Swedish Lucia songs.  On December 13th, the Pre-K class dress up in white gowns and sing to the younger children.  We also bake “lussekatter” (Lucia buns) and share with families and the other classrooms.   

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

Child development has remained fairly similar since I started in the field, but I think there’s more emphasis on assessments and the connection between lesson planning and assessments nowadays. We also have more focused areas of learning now; including Ez-write, infant sign language and Spanish.

What has made you stay with EFC?

I really like that this is a family-based company. EFC’s mission goes hand-in-hand with my own beliefs about child rearing & Early Childhood Education. EFC has also been very supportive of my family’s needs. 

Do you have any special memories of EFC you would like to share?

I love to hear from EFC alumni! I hired one of my former students to work at the center over summer breaks and it was fun to hear her talk about what she remembered from her time as a student. I also thoroughly enjoy the bond I’ve developed with the other directors; they are always there to listen and give advice if needed.

14fleWhat others say…

Fle has been a part of the Inver Grove Heights center even before Especially for Children took over ownership. Fle is celebrating 29 years there this year! We appreciate her dedication and her steady, calming nature.

– Priscilla Williams, President

Fle is thoughtful and compassionate. She has developed her leadership skills and has been a steady force for almost three decades! Thank you, Fle!

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Fle has been the glue at our Inver Grove Heights EFC for 28 years!  She brings a simile and a positive calm attitude to any situation.  Her love of children and their development is unwavering. We’ve been lucky to have Fle as part of our team for many years!

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

Fle has been awesome to work with all these years! Her random trips around the center on trikes are hilarious!

– Laura, Inver Grove Heights Teacher

She always has a positive attitude, is a good problem solver, great to work for and we can count on her to get things done.

– Tina, Inver Grove Heights Teacher

Fle goes above and beyond for all of us at EFC. She is kind, understanding and supportive. I will never be able to thank her enough for all the of the support she has given me.

– Amanda, Inver Grove Heights Teacher


Words from Fle…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Inver Grove Heights and have worked at Especially for Children since 1987. I met my husband Randy of 38 years in high school. I like to spend time with my new puppy Charlie, a Poodle Schnauzer mix, called a Schnoodle. I have two cats Sophie, 20, and Leo, 8.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

I love to travel, and I do a lot of gardening, both veggies and flowers. We live in the country on ten acres, so there is plenty of space to create. The month of May, I spend a lot of my time in the woods looking for morel mushrooms.

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

We are such a big part of the children’s life. They learn so fast.  It’s fun to see them come in each day excited to see their teachers and friends.

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years? 

I’m a pretty calm person and like to see people happy and smiling.  You need be patient, caring and have a good sense of humor when working with children.

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

The standards have changed dramatically in Early Childhood Education.  People have come to realize how important early education is. We are not viewed as babysitters anymore.

What has made you stay with EFC? 

Watching the children grow. We have many that come to us as infants and stay with us till they go off to school. We even had a few that came back for a job when they turned 16. All the friends I have made over the years with my coworkers as well as families. They have all become my second family.

Do you have any special memories of EFC you would like to share?

I have so many memories. I was walking through the dining room while the kids were eating breakfast. I hear this little guy say “I’ll have a Bloody Mary please.” Kids say the darnedest things.

I also loved EFC’s employee Christmas of 2014 at Green Acres Barn.

What others say…

03Susan-214x300

It has been so much fun to work with Susan for the past 27 years! We first knew her as a preschool teacher, then watched her take on the challenges of assistant director and then director. During the past 16 years as center director, Susan has provided steady leadership and strong programming. Thank you, Susan!

– Priscilla Williams, President

Susan is extremely hardworking, reliable and resilient. Working with her has been a pleasure. We appreciate her thoughtful nature and dedication to the Edina center and our company goals.

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Susan has been an integral part of our Edina EFC. Her calm confident demeanor makes it very comfortable for staff, parents and children to reach out to Susan anytime they need support.  She is dedicated to children’s early learning, growth and development.  In addition, Susan is a dedicated leader  of her teaching staff and amongst her peers.

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

Susan is a dedicated and professional director. She has a wealth of knowledge and a memory like none other. She strives to do right by the children, families and teaching staff while ensuring everyone’s well-being is a priority. Each day poses different situations, and Susan has a gift of devising plans to guarantee the day proceeds smoothly. She is an incredible value to EFC, and I am fortunate to have Susan as a mentor, colleague and friend.

– Michelle Botz, Edina/W 70th Co-Director

Susan is an amazing director! She excels at making children, parents and staff feel welcome and valued, and she has a knack for solving problems and diffusing difficult situations. But best of all, Susan has a wonderful sense of humor, which brightens and lightens each day at EFC.

– Robin, Edina/W 70th Teacher

Susan, by doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.

– Darci, Edina/W 70th Teacher

Thank you for converting our mistakes into lessons, pressure into productivity and skills into strengths. You really know how to bring out the best in us.

– Kayleigh, Edina/W 70th Teacher


Words from Susan…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have a B.A. in Elementary Education from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. I moved to the Twin Cities after college and began working as a preschool teacher here at EFC. I spent about 10 years in the classroom before moving into the management end.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

Spend time with friends and travel to visit my family

Explore new restaurants

Read

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

I love to develop relationships with the families. I think it’s pretty special to watch the children grow up in our program.

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years?

I feel that I have been a loyal employee and have provided consistent support to the families and teaching staff here at our center.

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

From the time that I started within this field, the process of assessments (conferences) for children has certainly changed.

We have always had a play-based approach to our curriculum which I think is a great foundation for children.

What has made you stay with EFC?

I love that it’s a family-owned company and that I have a voice within that company. I’m proud of our program here and really enjoy the people that I work with.

Do you have any special memories of EFC you would like to share?

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my years here and have had the opportunity to be a part of wonderful place. It’s been pretty special to hire teaching staff who I used to have in my group when I was a teacher.

Linda Center Director of EFC Circle Pines

Linda Burck

What others say…

 

Linda began working at the Circle Pines center as a preschool teacher in 1995 and became director in 1996. Her enthusiastic spirit has been present there for 21 years! Thank you, Linda, for guiding the center and always staying so close to the action!

– Priscilla Williams, President

Linda has a true “I can do it!” attitude. Her energy is boundless and we can always expect that when given a new task to accomplish, Linda will find a way to get it done! She has a great attitude!

– Steve Williams, Vice President

Linda enjoys each and every day with the children at our Circle Pines center.  You can find her walking to the library, cooking, biking, and reading with the children routinely.  She keeps things hopping at EFC and is always up for whatever is next.  Linda has helped to define EFC in Circle Pines!

– DeeAnn Besch, Vice President of Operations

Linda’s great connection with the children’s families is only outdone by her passion for the kids!  The children in our center love her and she puts their best interest as top priority!

– Dan, EFC Circle Pines Teacher

Each day upon her arrival Linda is greeted by a chorus of children asking, “Can I be your helper?” Linda works tirelessly with the staff and parents to provide a environment of caring, learning and fun. Thank you for all that you do; I know it is not said often enough.

– Kathy, EFC Circle Pines Teacher


Words from Linda…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am the mother of three grown sons.

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work?

  1. Exercise at the YMCA before work in the morning.
  2. Ride on bike trails on the weekends when weather permits.
  3. Snow ski in the winter. I plan on skiing in Colorado this winter.

What do you think is special about working with children and families?

I feel that they are part of my extended family. I love watching them grow through the years they spend with us.

What unique qualities or skills have you brought to EFC over the years?

Energy, sense of humor, team player, teaching the children to ride two wheel bikes, yoga, and hula-hooping.

How has child development changed since you started in the field? What has stayed the same?

Parent aware, NAEYC accreditation, DHS rules are frequently changing for the benefit of the children. Format of our curriculum.

What has made you stay with EFC?

I lived 1 block from the center for the first 19 years that I worked here. Strong sense of community and fellowship in Circle Pines. I like the size of our company and working with Steve and Priscilla.

Do you have any special memories of EFC you would like to share? I could write a book on anecdotes that the children share with me. They look at the world in special ways. Retreats and getaways!