Our Company

How it all began...

Bridgett VanDerhoff and her deceased husband, Doug (1951 – 2007), opened their first AppleTree location in Grand Rapids, MI on Monroe Avenue in 1998 with the dream of creating a premier child care and early education center that would provide a safe, nurturing environment for their infant daughter, Anna, to grow, learn, and thrive. When it opened in 1998, it was the first child care business in Michigan to install a secure internet camera system, AppleCam, which allows enrolled parents to “visit” their child anytime from work via computer or mobile device.

Children ages 6 weeks to 10 years old can grow, learn, and thrive socially, academically, and emotionally. Age-appropriate curriculum and programming allow each child to master learning objectives at their own pace while preparing for Kindergarten and future life success. Rigorous quality standards are evaluated quarterly in programming, curriculum, staffing, and building and child care safety.

As a result of her passion for protecting and educating children, VanDerhoff decided to build additional schools in West Michigan based on the success of her experience with opening the Monroe location – which is still serving the community today. There are currently 13 AppleTree locations throughout West Michigan. In 2011, a corporate partnership team was created to manage operations, owner relations, marketing, curriculum, training and quality. With AppleTree as its foundation, the Gilden Woods brand was established in 2012, in order to continue growth in communities outside of Michigan. 

Currently there are 24 schools operating throughout Michigan. Locations include Grand Rapids, Holland, Ludington, Kalamazoo, Lansing and the Metro Detroit area. The Gilden Woods brand, along with AppleTree, has allowed for continued growth into new communities and serve new families who need quality childcare and early education.  

“Our enrolled families put their trust in us and we are honored to have the privilege of caring for and educating their children,” states AppleTree and Gilden Woods Founder and CEO, Bridgett Tubbs-Carlon. “We have sparked the curiosity and inspired a love of learning in over 20,000 children in the communities we serve. The children we cared for 20 years ago are now bringing their own infants to Gilden Woods and AppleTree and some are even working for us as they raise their families.”



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