Both women were on hand to participate in the cutting of the ribbon and witness the official opening of the $3 million facility.
Mrs. Walters served as the Early Childhood Coordinator for a little over twenty years before retiring in 2010. She also served as an early childhood trainer under what was then the People Employment Programme (PEP).
Prime Minister Harris said the completion of the new preschool was one of the important parts of the vision of Mrs. Vanta Walters during her tenure as Early Childhood Coordinator.
He noted that while the completion of the facility was not realized during Mrs. Walters’ tenure, “We are deeply happy that today nonetheless, the day has come and we can celebrate the grand opening of a well deserved early childhood facility catering to so many of our young people—the leaders of today and indeed the leaders of tomorrow.”
Dr. Harris also recounted his own experience of working with Mrs. Walters when he served as minister of education from 2000 to 2004.
“As the minister of education way back then, I had the opportunity to work with her very closely to feel her passion and her zeal for ensuring that our early childhood facilities and programmes remain the model for early childhood education and development in the Caribbean.”
The prime minister continued, “She has had the pleasure of seeing persons come to St. Kitts and Nevis to copy as it were and to learn more about how we manage to do it so well. The experts who came from the University of the West Indies applauded and proposed that the early childhood programme of St. Kitts and Nevis would satisfy a model programme for the region to adopt.”
Over her illustrious career in education, Mrs. Leonie James served in various capacities, including as a teacher, and eventually head mistress at the St. Paul’s Primary School. In the early 1980’s, Mrs. James was challenged to the crafting of a programme that would embody children from infancy to four years of age, and that work would form the foundation for the St. Kitts and Nevis Early Childhood Education Programme.
In 2014, she was the recipient of the Star of Merit for her work in Preschool Education and Community Service.