As a family-based community, we want our Willow & Sprout families to connect with each other. One way we do this is through community meals. We invite families to host a community meal in their homes in order to facilitate relationships and connection. We find that the children feel a sense of pride when they can share their homes and families with their Willow&Sprout friends. We also encourage parents to share their families favorite snack and meal recipes. We enjoy adding these to our meal and snack time at Willow & Sprout. We invite families to take a trip together to Hay River Farms and Farmer Dan’s farm for the families to visit the place where our food comes from. We also host different family and parents event throughout the year. 


We value communication at Willow & Sprout. We have emails with photographs that are sent to families on a daily basis. We are able to let you know what projects and discoveries we were working on that day. We also post a video, two times per month, of our learning for families to view. This allows for parents and families to connect to Willow & Sprout in deep and meaningful ways. We put together a developmental profile for each child to discuss with parents on a yearly basis. We are also available to connect with parents over the phone or email whenever it is needed throughout the year. We welcome open communication.


I  am passionate about working with young children and families. My personal and educational journey has led me through a variety of experiences with children and families. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood/Special Education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. I also studied at the University of Vaxjo, Sweden, and spent part of the semester volunteering in a swedish preschool. This beautiful experience was a reflection on respecting children, using project-based learning, and developing community in early childhood formation. These values are at the heart of the Willow & Sprout community.

My husband, Ben, and I have two children, Josiah and Lydia. We enjoy attending art events, exploring the outdoors, and just being together. I also love to read, listen to music, and spend time with family and friends! 

Tami Hodgkins

I have a natural gift and passion for teaching and nurturing children. My desire to be an active part of childhood development was evident throughout my years of work in early childhood centers and nanny positions. I received my degree in Elementary Education from The University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire in 1998, and have since taught in many classrooms, and created various programming for children spanning multiple grade levels. As a mother myself, I crafted my own blend of mothering and and caring for others' children in her own home for several years.

My husband John and I have two children, Zachary and Isabella who are both school age. In my free time I love downhill skiing, camping and hiking with my family. I’m really close to my extended family. I love reading, road trips, spending time with her good friends, or drinking a really good cup of coffee!

Working with Jen and others who share her passion at Willow and Sprout is a wonderful fit for me. I love being able to do what I do best: creating an environment of inclusive community for kids - where each child is valued and respected for his or her unique contribution.

Ben Johnson

Ben has a degree in Music performance and has performed nationally and internationally with various choral and stage performance companies. Most recently he has returned from a run in New York City, Off-Broadway. Based in Minneapolis with wife Jennifer Johnson, they have two College age kids and is now grateful to be a full time teacher at Willow&Sprout!

Married to Willow and Sprout’s Director, Jennifer, and co-owner of Willow&Sprout, he couldn’t be happier to spend his days teaching, playing, and intentionally infusing his music and art into the community! Learning and pursuing education with and for the young friends and families is a true joy! Ben can be reached at or 612-281-0535


“For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about caring for children well. This passion has been instilled in me by my mom, who is a daycare provider and my best and earliest example of nurturing and advocating for kiddos. I studied Psychology and At-Risk Child and Youth Care at UW-La Crosse. Since graduating, I have worked as a nanny, an assistant 4K teacher, and at a nearby crisis nursery. I most recently worked as a foster care case planner in NYC. 


I just returned to Minnesota and the lake life, and am ecstatic to be joining the team! I align with and am encouraged by the values and heart of Willow and Sprout. I believe in the spirit, autonomy, and wonder of childhood and am grateful for this opportunity to help foster a nurturing and creative environment for kiddos to learn and grow. I am deeply driven by justice and strongly value the power of kindness. In my spare time, I love to hang out with my family, take the dogs on long walks, and rewatch the Princess Bride with my boyfriend (a high school sweetheart)!”


***All staff is certified in infant/child CPR and First Aid.

“It has been an enriching time for Josephine
and me...”
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