Mary Wardlaw Is Recognized For Her Commitment To Excellence

Mary Wardlaw, left, owner of The Children’s Center in Niles, Mich., recently attended a leadership retreat with Julie Bartkus, an international child care business success expert. Wardlaw is a member of Bartkus’ Child Care Program of Excellence Mentorship Program.

Parents have a tough choice to make when selecting quality child care for their children.  They're often left wondering:  Who can I trust for positive support?  Who will give my child the absolute best care? Who will I feel safe and secure leaving my little miracle with?

There are many deciding factors to take into consideration when selecting child care and one of them is the child care owner's commitment to excellence, which Booker T. Washington defined as doing a common thing in an uncommon way.

Child Care is very common, but what's not so common is a child care owner who commits to establishing EXCELLENCE as one of her core values in every aspect of how she runs her child care program.  Mary Wardlaw, owner of The Children's Center in Niles, Mich., is one owner who is committed to excellence through Julie Bartkus' Child Care Program of Excellence Mentorship Program.

Julie Bartkus established her Child Care Program of Excellence Mentorship to support child care owners in their quest to bring their visions for a true quality child care program to life.  The owners who are accepted to personally mentor with Julie are child care owners who desire to bring something great to life for the families they serve.  They are hands-on owners, meaning that when you tour their child care programs you'll be able to meet them and feel their presence in the operation of their child care program.  They are also committed to bringing on the best staff to educate and inspire your children. 

"Mary Wardlaw is fully engaged in the Child Care Program of Excellence and has committed to EXCELLENCE in the operation of her program," Bartkus states.  You'll feel it when you walk through the doors to tour her quality program located in the heart of Niles.  Mary has been participating in the Child Care Program since July 2015 and recently attended a leadership retreat with Julie Bartkus in Lake Geneva, Wis., and took her commitment to EXCELLENCE one step further by having Julie facilitate a full-day training for her entire team to help each team member get on board with her commitment to excellence.

Mary's vision:

Loving children has always been at the heart of Mary’s vision for The Children’s Center. But, loving them is only part of the vision. HOW love is demonstrated at The Children’s Center is what completes the vision. There are 5 key ways you’ll feel the love once you engage with Mary and her staff who are committed to being THE BEST for you.  

  • Genuine Relationships: We wrap our arms around families so they feel secure in our care.  
  • Thoughtfully Prepared Environment: Children are drawn into new and exciting learning experiences every day.
  • Professional Staff: Just take one look at our staff and you’ll see something different in their appearance and interactions with you as they follow the planned curriculum with a strong sense of fidelity.
  • Strong Program Management and Support
  • Effective Communication with Parents: Our parents know and FEEL how happy we are to see them!

Mary has been wrapping her arms around children through her work in the child care industry for over 24 years, 12 of which she’s owned her own center. Mary recalls:  “At times it’s hard to believe that I started The Children's Center in 2004 with 17 children and 3 staff members and today we have over 100 students and 20 amazing people on our teaching team.”

Mary continues:

“One thing I know for sure is that once you step foot into my child care program you won’t want to go anywhere else. You’ll feel the heart, the warmth and the genuine caring that flows so easily from my staff. We take great pride in creating an environment where parents stay connected with their children and our staff throughout the day.  

“My child care program is my passion and in addition to teaching preschool, directing a program and owning a child care center, I have also taught a college course in early childhood curriculum and have written several e-books; two of the books, ‘Leadership in Early Childhood’ and ‘Preschool Curriculum — Theme-Based Learning Centers,’ are sold on”

Where Mary’s journey started… 

The seed was planted early! Mary’s parents were both teachers, and long before she recognized it a seed was planted that eventually would grow into what The Children's Center is today.  

The seed started to take root when her first child was 18 months old. Mary along with her husband, Jay, needed to find child care and enrolled their daughter in a program near their home.  On her first day of child care, Mary went to pick her up and found her sitting outside of the program director's office on a bench crying. The program director was talking to someone on the phone, not even looking at Mary and Jay and their crying daughter.

Mary states:

“When I saw my little girl's puffy eyes, tears streaming down her face, it broke my heart. We walked out of that center and that's when the seed took root. I wanted to fix it. Not just for my little girl and me, but for other moms and dads who needed a safe and nurturing place for their children. My underlying vision was to create a place with not only a strong educational foundation, but also a place where children could laugh and play and be comforted when they were sad. A place where children felt loved. I am blessed that Jay and I have been married for 25 years now and have 4 children and 1 grandchild.”

Mary is passionate about helping parents find quality child care that works best for their needs and values. She is available to speak at events.  To contact Mary, visit or call 1.269.683.0405.