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Tena Christianson receives award for excellence in early childhood education

A teacher at West Linn’s KinderCare Learning Center received a big treat on Halloween morning when she was asked to read a story to a group of preschoolers. Tena Christianson thought she was reading an ordinary story — until she turned to a page and read this text: “Who won the Knowledge Educator Award and $10,000?”by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Its no trick, just a treat: Tena Christianson, center, receives an award worth $10,000 at work on Halloween.

Christianson didn’t have to wait long to learn the answer.

“The next page had my name,” she said.

Offered by Knowledge Universe, the Oregon-based parent company of KinderCare, the award recognizes excellence in early childhood education. This year, Christianson was one of 10 winners chosen from among 24,000 employees nationwide. She is the first Oregon recipient of the annual award.

Members of the Knowledge Universe executive team, including company CEO Tom Wyatt, arrived at the West Linn KinderCare on Halloween morning. Christianson had been asked to read a story to the school’s costumed students as part of what she was told would be a promotional photo shoot for the school’s parent company.

“I knew we were having people from (Knowledge Universe) and they were going to be filming and that kind of thing,” Christianson said. “I’m not one that really likes public attention, but I started reading the book to the kids. When I turned the page and it was my name, I don’t really remember what happened after that.”

An Oregon City resident, Christianson has worked at KinderCare for 13 years, including three years at the West Linn location. She was still considering how to spend the money, she said.

“I have no idea. I’m just kind of overwhelmed,” she said happily.

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