Twenty years ago, Bridgett Tubbs and her late husband Doug opened up their first
child care center in Grand Rapids, MI. With the vision to set themselves apart and raise the bar for quality childcare and early education, AppleTree has been able to spread their apple seeds across Michigan with 26 total locations, and several others in the works.
Rapid Growth: What sets AppleTree
apart from the rest?
Bridgett Tubbs: I think what sets us apart is that we started in Grand Rapids and are locally owned. The partners that are involved in the company live here, their children have attended local AppleTree schools and have grown up in this community. However, we are always watching competitors locally and globally to for watch trends and stay competitive. We always want to set ourselves apart and raise the bar for quality childcare and early education.
RG: How has your vision for AppleTree changed from its inception 20 years ago?
BT: My original vision was to create a place for my daughter to grow and learn. It had to be high quality, not just with nurturing child care but in early education as well. This has been our driving force to continue this vision and continue to serve the families we have today.
RG: What is one thing you wish you knew earlier on when building the AppleTree brand?
BT: I wish I knew more about scaling a company early on in the process. I would have set things up differently.
RG: What inspires your children's programming?
BT: Our programs are based on best practices for early childhood education. They are based on focusing on the whole child. The environment and curriculum are implemented to nurture children’s individual needs. This allows them to create close bonds with friends, gain confidence, and create a rewarding experience that will take them further on their educational journey.
RG: How do you maintain consistency (with your programming) across each of your locations?
BT: We have a quality assurance program that we have spent a lot of time perfecting. This program requires each school to go through a quarterly quality inspection that covers everything from the maintenance of the schools, to teacher and child interactions, to curriculum implementation. We have spent a lot of time, money, and energy to continue to improve this program which has resulted in offering our families higher quality schools.
RG: Does AppleTree cater to children with special needs?
BT: We are an organization that advocates the best possible care for every child. We provide children with disabilities with an equal opportunity to participate in our program and services. We have a process that allows us to determine what environment is best for children with special needs.
RG: What do children enjoy the most about AppleTree?
BT: I think it’s that they make friends, have fun with the resources we offer in our schools, and learn in a fun and interesting environment. They become like a second family to each other and our teachers. Our hope is the children who come to our schools will leave with the knowledge to set themselves apart as they enter kindergarten and use the memories they created to help them grow into the individual they desire to become.
RG: Have attacks on schools impacted your safety procedures any?
BT: Yes! Definitely, we have had to implement special training and some special features in our building including added security. Our front door has a vestibule with a strict sign in and sign out procedure that every family has to complete to enter our school. We also have procedures set in place that our teachers and administrative staff are trained for in case of an emergency.
RG: What makes for a great AppleTree teacher?
BT: Someone who loves children and understands that nurturing and education are invaluable at this age. We encourage our teachers to be involved with our families to help make sure their children are getting the attention they need, and they are meeting the expectations of parents and guardians.
RG: In which ways do see your business growing within the next five to 10 years?
BT: I foresee that we will have more schools partnering within corporate companies. A trend that is happening right now for employee retention. We already have a couple of contracts in process. I also hope to grow outside of the state of Michigan. Our growth will be organic and strategic. We value quality over quantity of schools and will only grow if we can maintain the highest standards for ourselves that we have set.
Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media