For nearly 40 decades, Barbara Watson has lovingly served the children as director of the Early Childhood Center at Coral Gables Congregational Church. Now, she said, it is time to hang up her director’s hat and move on. At 11 a.m. on June 2, the Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner, the church’s senior minister, has planned a special celebratory service for Watson. She will be honored for her many years of "outstanding and dedicated leadership", said Kelly Altosino-Sastre, a member of the church, at 3010 Desoto Blvd.
"The celebration is called Barbara Watson Day, and Mayor Jim Cason will be there to present Watson with a city of Coral Gables proclamation," Altosino-Sastre said.
"Barbara has been a fixture in the community for many years, and her commitment to the education, growth, and care for our children is legendary," Hafner said. "She leaves a legacy of an outstanding, much respected, and valued preschool."
Watson said, "Directing the preschool ... and to see the preschool grow from a loving nursery school to a school to one which affirms children as an important and significant profession, has been for me, an overall satisfying 30-plus-year journey. I am proud that we have built a warm and welcoming program of early childhood education, which is financially viable, based on professional standards, and is recognized and respected in the community."
Before moving to Miami in 1969 with her husband David (now deceased), Watson was a teacher in Maryland. In 1974, after the birth of their two daughters, Watson took a part time teaching position at the center, working with 2- through 5-year-olds. In 1984, She was named interim director and subsequently became the director. In 1993, the preschool became a nationally accredited preschool of excellence through the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.
Janet Hiles, a longtime staffer and the incoming preschool director said, "We believe that Barbara’s guiding principle... of always putting the needs of the child first, will resonate with our school forever."
Watson is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Southern Florida Association of the Education for Young Children and a member of the Southern Early Childhood Association .
All past and present students and their families, and staff are encouraged to attend the service. A reception will be held immediately following the service.
‘Voice and Piano Recital’
It’s that time of the year when you can hear great music and, perhaps, be a witness to some young performers, who one day could very well become some of the world’s greatest performers in the classical music arena.
I speak of the annual Voice and Piano Recital, presented by Performer’s Music Institute, to be at 7 p.m., June 1 at Miami Shores Community Church, 9823 NE Fourth Ave.
Hosted by Oscar Diaz Jr., artistic director of the institute, the program will include students and young artists in a program to include vocal selections from opera, musical theatre, art songs and popular music.
Performers are: Eliezer Matos, baritone; Jose Vazquez, 18, bass-baritone; Katarina Bakas, lyric mezzo-soprano; Lisa Gansar Pitman, mezzo-soprano; Josephine Robinson, 12, pianist; Melissa Ruiz, light-lyric soprano; Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, lyric-spinto soprano; Rosie Herrera, lyric-coloratura soprano, and William Cadena, lyric baritone. Gregory Szeto and Jared Perounce will accompany the singers.