Students – along with parents, teachers, staff, school board members, and Fort Leonard Wood, community, and school leaders – helped dedicate the new addition to Williams Elementary and Early Childhood Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, on Fort Leonard Wood. 

Administrator Tina Helm welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Col. Bjarne M. Iverson, chief of staff of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence on Fort Leonard Wood, who served as one of the keynote speakers for the dedication. He thanked the school district for the 31,444 square feet addition that will help serve military families. About two-thirds of the district’s students are military dependents.

Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman shared history about the naming of the schools on Fort Leonard Wood, noting that Williams is named for Jonathan Williams, the first superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She and St. Robert Mayor George Sanders congratulated and thanked the school district on behalf of their citizens for creating a facility designed just for the young students. 

Jessica Ward and Jordan Brister, current high school students and former early childhood education students, also spoke at the dedication about the success of Waynesville’s early childhood programs.

School Board President Lori Laughlin noted the addition includes nine classrooms, occupational, physical and speech therapy rooms, testing facilities and an activities room. The interior caters to the requirements for those age 5 and under, and outside, the playground is accessible for children with special needs.  

Superintendent Judene Blackburn thanked Architects Dickinson Hussman Associates, and contractor, Federal Construction Inc., for their work on this project. She also thanked the custodians, maintenance crew, teachers, building staff and administrators who helped prepare the school for the students.

A $5 million facilities renovation grant to the Waynesville R-VI School District from the U.S. Department of Education’s Impact Aid Program helped fund the project. Cindy West, project assistant for the Waynesville R-VI School District, was recognized by Dr. Blackburn for her work on this project and helping make this dream a reality, along with Jacqueline Edwards of the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.