Nicole has 25 years of experience as an early childhood educator, small business owner, and entrepreneur. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship, and later earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University, St. Paul, MN.
Nicole’s Master’s Thesis on staff retention outlined the need for quality early childhood leaders in a field where teachers are traditionally under compensated but hold a great deal of responsibility for the success of youth. This remains an area of passion for Nicole. She has continued to work hard to keep staff turnover levels low in her own early childhood center. She has several team members who have served with her as employees and teachers for nearly 23 years.
Nicole’s early childhood development center began in the early 90’s. It is called, Peace of Mind Early Education Center. Nicole has managed multiple satellite campuses, overseeing a staff of more than fifty teachers. In addition, she has built on her entrepreneurial vision, creating an independent private elementary school at the request of the parents who were a part of her original early childhood development center. The school, Footprints Academy, 13 years old now, has successfully served thousands of students and their families in the Woodbury community including her own three children!
Recognizing the need to serve children with special needs in her community, Nicole built the non-profit organization (501(c)3), Legacy Builders of Woodbury. Specializing in fundraising and event coordination and management, this organization has successfully raised funds for student scholarships, teacher education, para-professionals, and teacher innovation.
Nicole and her family live near Woodbury, Minnesota. Her husband, Gary, is her partner in running Peace of Mind, taking care of the accounting, billing, and finance. They married in 1991, and have three teenage children who keep them very busy.
As an early childhood educator, Nicole specializes in management, marketing, relationships with city and counties, zoning and special use permitting issues, lease negotiations, behavioral issues, NAEYC accreditation, Minnesota Parent Aware, Core Knowledge, curriculum, policy and procedures, environments and space planning, safety, training, enrollment, program startups, advocacy, and compliance.
In 2014, Nicole was responsible for starting a charter school in her community. This is the first elementary charter school in Woodbury, Minnesota. It is called, Woodbury Leadership Academy. The school opened with nearly 200 students and is successfully operating today.
As a consultant, Nicole has assisted several new start-ups, including the Child Development Center at the University of St Thomas. She especially enjoys working with Christ-based programs that incorporate the Christian message of redemption into what they teach young children.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “