Staff Spotlight: Ms. Vera Williams is on the cusp of her golden anniversary in early childhood education at EarlystART!
In Ms. Ivera (Vera) Williams’ almost 50 year career in early childhood education, there have been approximately: 220,500 diapers changed, 40,000 bottles made, and more than 15,000 students inspired. Overachiever? You bet!
Ms. Vera’s incredible leadership in the classroom is only half as inspiring for her heart and commitment to Kansas City’s little(st) learners. Dedicated, loving, compassionate, knowledgeable, and giving are all words EarlystART staff used to describe Ms. Ivera (Vera) Williams.
Deidre Anderson, EarlystART CEO, is one of Ms. Vera’s biggest fans, saying, “Ivera Williams is not only an exceptional teacher, but she is also an amazing human being. She is committed to her community and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure her students succeed. She sees herself as an extension of their family. Her vitality, enthusiasm, and charisma are contagious, and she is a natural leader.”
As a staple of compassionate education, Ms. Vera Williams has fostered the growth of countless little learners for nearly five decades (yes, you read that correctly!). Her commitment to this sector was recently uplifted by the Kansas City Royals and her legacy shared with the community. In August 2022, Ms. Vera was honored in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Kauffman Stadium for her service in the classroom and for countless Kansas City families. She has truly become an icon of early childhood education within the Kansas City community and has inspired future generations of early educators.
When asked why she decided to embark on a career in early childhood education, Ms. Vera reflected on her very first day of a kindergarten internship.
“I saw how patient the teachers were and how the children were really learning and growing, and I thought to myself ‘I can do this and I want to do this forever’”.
From there, Williams dedicated her life to helping the children of her community learn and grow.
Before joining the EarlystART team, Williams was the Director at Della Lamb Community Center from 1989-2005 where she was recognized for her diligent work in highlighting and uplifting the strengths of her community. Throughout her time at Della Lamb, Williams advocated for nearly 300 children daily and spearheaded the development of two new centers in Jackson County.
After completing her tenure with Della Lamb Community Center, Williams met Reverend Samuel Mann, the pastor of St. Mark Union Church and founder of United Inner City Services (now known as EarlystART) at a church service in 2005. There, they conversed about the next steps in her career. Williams recounts saying “I want to be in the classroom where the learning happens.”
Not too long after, Williams started working as an Infant/Toddler (students ages six weeks – three years old) Teacher for EarlystART, where she’s been for the last 18 years. With 80% of brain development occurring during this critical age, Ms. Vera is a true community leader in creating waves of potential, promise, and possibility for children and families.
Ms. Vera’s unwavering commitment to little learners and families extends beyond the walls of her classroom; she was one of the first teacher volunteers for weekly drive-up distributions of groceries, arts materials, and essentials during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s also been a leader in adopting virtual education in order to make early learning accessible to as many children and families as possible. When asked what her favorite part of her job is, she said, “I give everything to my students and their families, and it’s rewarding to see them benefit from that.”
At EarlystART, we are forever grateful for Ms. Vera Williams. We are in awe of what she has done for our community. This spotlight is just a small token of our appreciation for the magnificent Ms. Vera, and we will be singing her praises for another 50 years and beyond.