About Us

Our History

Thunderbird was founded in 1965 by Claire Koch, who had a special interest in early childhood education and sought to provide great learning experiences and the best possible opportunities for young children. When Claire passed away in 1971, her husband Bud left his job as a civil engineer building roads to support his teachers and families in building the lives of young children.

In 1973 Bud married Betty, a Crystal Lake teacher devoted to early childhood education. Together they built Thunderbird’s legacy until Bud passed away in 1998. Betty continued Thunderbird’s philosophy of love and caring, creating wonderful learning opportunities for children. Betty officially retired in 2014, although she is still very much involved in Thunderbird’s daily operations. Under the leadership of visionary directors and the love, enthusiasm and energy of its exceptional staff, Thunderbird continues to thrive.

School building, Crystal Lake, IL

Our Philosophy

We believe it is a privilege to teach your child.

We believe young children need a firm foundation both at home and at school, upon which they will build a sense of trust, a love of learning, a positive self-image and respect for others. We assist children in the development of their social conscience and we promote the expectation of group cooperation and participation.

We strive to provide a safe, loving, and educational environment with an abundance of exciting experiences that will foster your child’s development: cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally.

We strive, as educators, to build a partnership with you, as parents, working together to support each other for the benefit of your child.

For more information about our programs, please visit our Prospective Families page!

Our Teachers

Our teachers are the heart and soul of Thunderbird. They are dedicated professionals committed to creating an environment for your child to love, laugh, live, and learn.

Proudly Serving Families from McHenry County, Crystal Lake, Lakewood, Woodstock, Huntley, Algonquin, Cary, Prairie Grove, Lake in the Hills, McHenry