Miss Alma celebrates 40 years of Fun Time

— There are magical places, and there are magical people.

Often, the two go hand in hand.

On Thursday, teachers and students at Fun Time Early Childhood Academy gathered around Almaretta Williams to thank her for 40 years of service. They sang songs, presented cards and showered her with hugs, making clear that her presence has added something irreplaceable to the preschool that has, likewise, been irreplaceable in many of their own lives.

Williams, known for the past 40 years as Miss Alma, started working at Fun Time when she was 19 in September of 1969. She said she has had opportunities to go elsewhere, but said serving the families in the River Park section of Naples and beyond has simply been her calling.

“It’s been a privilege and I’ve enjoyed it,” Williams said. “I hope God will bless me to continue doing what I’m doing.”

Williams, who started by teaching 2-year-olds 40 years ago, still works with the same age group. But Executive Director Franny Kain said Williams has remained far from set in how she approaches her young pupils: she continues to attend professional development workshops whenever she can, never assuming she already knows it all.

Being at one place that long certainly has its perks, though.

Parents — and now, an occasional grandparent — sometimes throw their arms around Williams exclaiming that she taught them.

“She is a testament to the commitment, the dedication and the love that teachers have for children,” Kain said Thursday. “We feel very rooted to the community, and part of that is because of Miss Alma.”

To thank her for that commitment, the children at Fun Time regaled Williams with such classics as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Hickory, Dickory Dock” Thursday. They each presented her with hand-made cards, and the staff of Fun Time gave her a gift: a Seiko watch.

“They tell me it will last a lifetime,” said Kain. “You have given us so much of your time, so we want you to enjoy that forever.”

Williams, who was overcome with emotion a few times during the celebration, said she was completely surprised — staff members told her the school was getting a visit from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida when they began gathering everyone together for a small assembly.

“This is just amazing,” said Fun Time Board Member Delores Sorey. “Forty years that she has been here. It’s great — when kids leave this building, they are ready for kindergarten and they are ready to read.”

Williams has seen a lot of change in her 40 years with Fun Time, but the single change she marvels at the most is the school’s move into a brand new building in December 2008. The bright new building replaced a worn, squat yellow building in River Park, which lost its roof in Hurricane Wilma and limped along for several years.

Williams said she is blessed to have been around long enough to see the school make its move, and she has no intention of going anywhere while the future is so bright for Fun Time.

Fun Time Early Childhood Academy still has spots for children ages 1 year to pre-kindergarten. Visit funtimeacademy.org for more.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features