About Us


Some of the best memories I have as a child were created outside, running the hills, climbing the trees, or building forts in the woods. My wife and I bonded over a love for the outdoors and we vowed that we would share that love with our children. We believe that kids should have the opportunity to run, jump, play, climb, and explore. We created Wildflower Early Learning Center to offer the community an alternative to mainstream childcare. To encourage and inspire children to become stewards of the earth while providing a foundation that enables healthy development and academic success. 

Whether it be tending the garden, exploring the life of a Woolly Bear caterpillar, or getting comfy in the classroom sharing stories and reading books, we look forward to creating memories with your family that will last a lifetime.  



Joshua Linde
Owner of Wildflower ELC

Ross Thompson
- Program Director 
- Classroom Teacher
- Early Childhood
- M.Ed in Early Childhood
- Classroom teacher: 14yrs
- U of M Early Childhood 
  course instructor: 9yrs

We’ve all had that feeling: when something just clicks and all of a sudden you know you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing.  That’s been my connection to working with young children and families.  I’ve had the remarkable opportunity to spend the first 12 years of my career at the Shirley G. Moore Lab School at the University of Minnesota – working directly with children and families while simultaneously mentoring university students getting their degrees in Early Childhood.  During my time working with, as well as learning from, the children, families, students, and staff, my hope sharing my passion of life-long learning has grown from a dream into a reality now that I’ve been asked to help create the Wildflower Early Learning Center. 

Seeing children’s true sense of wonder, discovery, imagination, kindness, respect, and friendship blossom during these early years is truly an amazing experience. It’s been an honor to be a part of this development for many families already, and now I look forward to sharing these new experiences with your family soon! 

I am excited for you to join us in our learning adventure at Wildflower ELC.  I was raised in Wausau, WI and have been a proud resident of the south metro for 15 years.  I graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul with a degree in psychology.  Upon graduation, I found myself working in a children's mental health facility.  This opportunity fostered my desire to help children at the early stages of development.  I then found myself working with birth through age 5 and found my life's work.  Some of my favorite activities with young children are storytime, dramatic play, and sensory experiences.  It's powerful to watch a child learn how the world works and how they play a role in society.


Education and my family keep me busy. My husband, Zach works in sales and I have two daughters, Zoey (1st grade) and Morgan (age 2).   Some of our favorite activities are trips to the Zoo, Valley Fair and visiting the many parks in the area.  

I welcome you to Wildflower ELC.  I hope you find it a place of love, nurturance, education, and growth for you and your child.

Jessica Lewis
- Operations Director 
- Classroom Teacher 
- BA in Psychology,
- 30 credits towards 
  Masters in Family Ed.
- Classroom teacher: 11yrs
- Administration exp. 3yrs

Growing up in Hastings, MN , my fondest memories include: digging for worms, sledding down snowy hills, splashing in rain puddles, observing the animals that visited our yard, baking with my mother and grandmother, and smelling all the flowers I could find.  After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in Elementary Education, my husband and I decided to move up to the southern shore of the mighty Lake Superior, where we lived in the middle of the woods in a one room cabin at Camp Amnicon for a little over a year. Here, I reconnected with my love of nature as an adult, filling my soul with new adventures and knowledge that has set a new path for me as an educator.  After teaching in a public school in Duluth for a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to transition into a different model of education. I was searching for a space where children could develop a nourishing relationship with nature, develop relationships with one another through play, and gain knowledge through hands-on experiences. After spending time teaching at Dodge Nature Center, I feel I have found my passion in facilitating experiences for children to play and discover. I am very excited to continue my journey as an educator at Wildflower Early Learning Center, where we have the rare opportunity to pave a new path of what early childhood education can look like.  I am looking forward to sharing new experiences with the kiddos; including many hikes on our 8-acres of land, sowing seeds into the soil, observing the visiting wildlife, and preparing meals with food from the garden.

Alicia Franke 
- School Environmentalist
- Classroom Teacher
- B.A. in Elementary Ed 
- Classroom teacher: 4 yrs
- Permaculture Design Certified
- 200hr Yoga Teacher Certified
Sarah Harrell
- Lead Teacher
-AA in Psychology
-Classroom Teacher: 7 yrs
-90 Credits of Social Work
-First Aid/CPR/AED Certified
-Director Exp.: 3 yrs

I am both honored and thrilled to be apart of such a crucial part of your child’s learning and development in this stage of their lives. I believe that children work and learn best by being empowered to have organic opportunities and the ability to create and learn at their own pace. Preschool in a very important time for exploring, play, and curiosity, that help build the foundation of learning.

As a native Minnesotan, fishing, camping, swimming, and running barefoot, come as second nature. These fun activities have also been the fundamentals of skills I would later develop for long life problem solving, social, and emotional skills. 

 I believe that PLAY is a very important aspect of everyday life. Children have the opportunity to learn in a natural environment on a regular basis, indoors and outdoors! I am very grateful that I get to be apart of the time that your child spends here at Wildflower as we grow together. 



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   Mon-Fri   6:30AM - 6PM

Wildflower Early Learning Center © 2020

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