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Kinderberry Hill turns 10 years old

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Kinderberry Hill Childhood Development Center in Woodbury is growing up. 

Kinderberry Hill is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month. 

“If you think about how old those children are that we had when we first started,” executive director Kathy Sjursen said, “oh my gosh, they are young adults now.” Growing up

HealthEast opened the first three Kinderberry Hill centers in the late 1980s in Edina, Roseville and Maplewood, which eventually became the Woodbury center. 

Kinderberry Hill’s mission was “to open new horizons of self-esteem and potential for the little people entrusted to our care, their families, and our employees by providing and continuously improving the best child development programs on the planet.” 

The Maplewood Center, which was located on the 3M campus, eventually decided to make the move to the current Woodbury location, at  1205 Woodbury Drive, as a way to attract more families. 

“We definitely wanted to be in a more visible location in a growing community like Woodbury,” Sjursen said. “We were excited to be a part of this great community because it is so family centered.” 

When the center made the move from Maplewood to Woodbury about 40 students came with. 

Today the Woodbury center serves about 120 children, infant through school age. 

Sjursen said it’s hard to think that it’s been 10 years since the Woodbury Kinderberry Hill opened because not only are there a lot of the same faces, but the building doesn’t show its age at all. 

“It’s wonderful to see the sense of pride even just going into the school,” she said. “The building doesn’t look 10 years old because it’s just as beautiful as it was the day we opened.

“That sense of pride really shows, through.” 

Not all things have remained the same, though, Sjursen said. 

“We give parents constant electronic updates now where it used to be the daily sheets parents would get at the end of the day,” she said. “I remember serving brownies at snack time many many years ago and now there’s an increased importance on healthy eating.” 

Kinderberry Hill will be celebrating its big birthday from 5-7 p.m. Friday, during a birthday celebration that will include food, live music by Bob the Beachcomber, face painting and a balloon artist. 

Another component of the party is that the center is asking all visitors to bring donations for “birthday bags” for the Cheerful Givers nonprofit. 

Cheerful Givers distributes the bags, through shelters and food shelves, to children who probably won’t receive birthday gifts. 

Requested items include new plush toys, books, games, puzzles, yo-yos, whistles, crayons, markers, clay, balls, stickers, wrapped candy and gift bags.

The Kinderberry way 

Sjursen said Kinderberry Hill is unique from other childcare centers because of the emphasis on enrichment programs, such as fitness, music, Spanish, STEM, arts and the school’s vegetable garden. 

“We continue to recognize those as areas of importance for the children’s growth and development,” she said. “It’s important to create experiences and environments for children that are going to help them grow and develop all aspects of life to be successful in life and in learning. 

“It’s just as important to have a healthy lifestyle, healthy living, enjoying the outdoors while recognizing the wide variety of academics too.” 

Another piece that sets Kinderberry Hill apart, Sjursen said, is its many community partnerships with such organizations as the Woodbury Community Theatre, whose cast members will often visit the school, and the city of Woodbury’s Parks and Recreation Department, which hosts its annual Puppet Wagon preview party at Kinderberry Hill. 

Sjursen said the school will continue to incorporate other enrichment opportunities into the school’s curriculum, while still teaching the children the skills they need. 

“We want to increase the health and well-being of the children we serve,” she said. One skill, Sjursen said, that the center will be focusing on will be executive function, which relates to a child’s self-control and self-regulation. 

Kinderberry Hill has meant so much to Sjursen, who is coming up on 18 years as director, and she’s excited to see what the future holds. 

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of care that we provide,” she said. “I take personal pride and personal ownership in their success and happiness.

“I’m like the mom of this big family.” 

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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