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Our Why

One of the very first things you'll learn about me is that I explain things very thoroughly. To some it might seem like too much, but for me it's intentional and very much tied into why and how Here We Grow began. 

I've been working in some capacity with children for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be a teacher early on in my childhood and I followed through with that graduating with a BS in Elementary Education and then a Masters in Educational Leadership. Between completing my Bachelors and my Masters, I served in a few different leadership roles. I was an Administrator of a Public School Collaborative for 6 School Districts that were included and I also served as Coordinator of the School Age Program for a Public School. But it was my last role before opening Here We Grow, that lead me here. 

My entire childhood was spent creating and spending time in Nature. I often ran around barefoot and Summer was a time of endless play-filled possibilities for my neighborhood friends and I.  So when I accepted a role as Director of a Child Care Center, I thought I'd find the same. Unfortunately for me, my assumptions were incorrect. My office was located off of the toddler room and my first week I sat painfully in my office listening to the phrases "sit down" and "put your shoes back on" repeated over and over. I watched Preschoolers sit in small rooms with little chairs with endless worksheets placed in front of them. And after one week, I nearly quit. About a week later the new Preschool Teacher came into my office and said, "I can't do this. This is insane. I need to put my notice in." I remember thinking, "you and me both sister" but I had just met her, so instead I said, "Please don't leave. Would you consider being the Toddler Teacher and we can work this out together?" We worked together for a year she and I and became quick friends. But it soon became clear that we were not going to be able to accomplish what we had hoped. 

I remember my Dad saying to me, "Why don't you just open your own and do it the way you want?" 

In 2012 I found a little gray building on the edge of Mankato, MN and put in an offer. I had a lot of doubters, but I used their doubt to fuel my drive to create a place where children could be themselves. 

That teacher I mentioned from my previous role's name was Jen and she and I are still best friends to this day. She and I prayed in the parking lot of what was a little empty old school house for Lime Township. We prayed that God would use it for His purpose and He has. 

So here we are, a little over 10 years later. In the time that has passed I've since added on. But the most important thing is what happens here daily. 

Here children walk barefoot in the grass, dance in the rain in Oakiwear; boxes may be an airplane, a rocketship, or even a boat, but you will not find them on worksheets because we don't have any. 


You will find no shortage of sticks, rocks, sand, or dirt. But above all you will find compassionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to defending childhood as it should be, play-filled and free. 

Welcome to Here We Grow.  A little nature based playschool on the edge of Mankato partnering with families through half and full day Playschool options and coming this Fall, Playgroups. We're excited you're here and we hope you'll take a look around and fall in love with the magic of childhood. 


Have you played outside today?

Elizabeth Bangert

Founder, Owner, and Director, but my favorite title is "Mom" to Jacob. 

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