Brown Deer — It was like any other day for teacher Bonnie Seefeldt at Brown Deer Kindercare Learning Center on Oct. 9. She went through her normal activities, ushering the children in from morning recess to read them a book during story time.
But something was different that day. Three large video cameras were pointing directly at her. They didn't seem to phase her though, and she continued with that morning's story time. Seefeldt smiled at the children and picked up that day's book called "A Lion's Tale."
She was told the purpose of the cameras was for a marketing video Kindercare was producing, and her class was going to be featured in it.
As she began to read the story of the lion and slowly turned the pages, Seefeldt was taken by surprise. The book wasn't about lions. It was about her. The book announced that Seefeldt was one of 13 Kindercare teachers from across the U.S. to receive the Early Childhood Educator Award from Knowledge Universe. Knowledge Universe is the parent company of Kindercare and a national provider of early education and care. She was chosen from more than 24,000 early childhood educators within the CCLC, KinderCare and Knowledge Beginnings family of companies.
Seefeldt was chosen "because of how much she loves children and the way she helps other teachers," the book read.
"You have an amazing teacher," said Susie Egr, regional vice president for Kindercare, who took over reading the last pages of the book so Seefeldt could catch her breath. "Bonnie was chosen as one of the best teachers Kindercare has."
In addition to the award, Seefeldt was given a check for $10,000. She said the money will go to her son Nate's college education.
"He just graduated in May, he lives in Minnesota now," Seefeldt said. "He has a wonderful new job but this will definitely go to his education for sure."
Great anniversary gift
Seefeldt, a resident of Brown Deer, has been a Kindercare teacher for 28 years. In fact, the day she received the award was the anniversary of her first day as a teacher.
"She just has a genuine passion for the children and makes sure they have the best advantages going into kindergarten," Kindercare District Manager Deb Gorman said. "She has an innate ability to individualize care for every student."
When asked how she continues to do the same job every single day, year after year, Seefeldt cited her son as her inspiration.
"No matter how old he gets, I know that people out there are taking care of him wherever he is so it makes it more special to be able to be here and take care of these children, too," she said. "It's something (different) every single day — doesn't matter if it's a smile, or a laugh, a knock-knock joke, sometimes even a little bit of a hard time — but it's nice because you can come back the next day and you can start fresh and you can have a brand new experience."
Seefeldt is the 35th teacher to receive the Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Award since the program began in 2008. The annual award recognizes teachers who demonstrate exceptional skills in teaching young children. She was nominated and selected for the award for connecting with the children in her classroom and setting high standards in family and community communication.
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