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Woodbury woman named child care provider of the year

Laurie Mondry plays with 4-month-old Adelynn Johnson at her Laurie's Little Angels day care. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

Before letting them refuse to eat healthy fruits and veggies, Laurie Mondry always asks her day care kids to take a “thank you bite.”

“Before they say it’s ‘icky’ or not my first choice, at least ask them to try it,” the Woodbury woman said. “You’d be amazed at how much they actually enjoy it. So the next week I’ll throw it in there too.”

Mondry was recognized last week as one of two Washington County Family Child Care Providers of the Year, joining Michele Acker of Forest Lake in receiving the award.

The county presents the award in conjunction with the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association conference every year.

Mondry’s service, called Laurie’s Little Angels, has been running for 13 years. One of her nominations came from a mother who’s been sending her two kids there for 10 years.

“I really like the family atmosphere that she provides. She provides a safe, fun place for the kids,” Shelly Knowlton said. “It’s a home away from home.”

Mondry left her accounting job to stay home with her two sons and start the child care business 13 years ago when she realized how much time she was spending away from her family.

“Too many long hours at work and I was missing them,” she said.

So she traded the grown-up environment for Sesame Street and playing outside.

Mondry has watched many of the children in her day care grow. She recently attended a graduation of one of the kids she took care of.

“That was really neat,” she said. “I took care of him and his two younger brothers. So it was good to see them too. It was good to see them grown up.”

Though not much has changed in terms of licensing requirements over the past 13 years, Mondry said it’s important for the children entering school to interact with others, behave, learn their manners and absorb anything that would help teachers at schools.

One other nominator complimented Mondry on her efforts to teach kids respect for one another and their elders.

“When my children are at home and playing with a friend, I have noticed that they are better able to share and compromise,” the nomination letter states. “And these are skills that they are practicing while at Laurie’s day care.”

One thing that gets parents’ attention is how Mondry manages to get the children to eat healthy meals. The “thank you bite” approach has been working well in getting them to try certain foods they may not otherwise taste.

“And it must work because my kids at home respond to that too,” Knowlton said. “They’re willing to take a thank you bite. She’s always offering a nice range of healthy choices for the kids. I like that.”

Mondry received the award at the June 25 Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting. The nominations were reviewed by an ad hoc committee from the Washington County Child Care Council with representation from the state. The County Board publicly acknowledged their achievement and success in their career as early childhood educators and caregivers, which county officials say helps increase awareness of quality child care.

“I just can’t imagine leaving my kids with anybody else,” Knowlton said of Mondry. “I’ve recommended her to friends and neighbors who have used her and have been satisfied with the care.”

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.