L-R: Mr. Bren Romney, Minister Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers, Mr. Robert Strasser, Mrs. Doris Mead, Mrs. Maureen Leslie-Adams, Mrs. Janis Strasser and Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks
On Monday, 13th March, members of the Early Childhood Education Association, and preschool principals of the island, gathered at the Teachers’ Resource Centre to witness the launch of the Robert and Janis Strasser Anguilla Preschool Teachers Scholarship. This scholarship programme, generously made available by the Strassers, is supported by the University of the West Indies, Open Campus, in collaboration with the Department of Education.In commending Mr. and Mrs. Strasser for such a benevolent gesture towards the development of early childhood education, Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks, Manager of the UWI Open Campus, said: “Today, we are really grateful to the Strassers. Robert and Janis have been coming to Anguilla for a very long time, and after vacationing here for several years, Mrs. Strasser became well acquainted with Anguilla’s preschool teachers.”
“But who are the Strassers?” Mrs. Fleming-Banks asked. She then introduced them: “Mr. Robert Strasser grew up in New York and, after graduating from college, he worked at several jobs before launching his own small packaging business out of a garage with a partner. He had to learn to drive a large truck — and became acquainted with new machinery in order to operate his business. But hard work pays off, and the business has grown into the success that it is today.”
Preschool Principals received gifts from Mr. & Mrs. Strasser
“During that time, some thirty years ago,” she stated, “Robert met the lovely Janis who was a preschool and kindergarten teacher at the time. Janis attended graduate school and, for eight years, at night, she went to classes while she was still teaching preschool and raising two children. She attained two Masters Degrees and a Doctorate. Hard work really pays off.
“For twenty-one years, Janis worked as a college professor coordinating graduate programmes for early childhood teachers. She taught Research Creativity, Play, Curriculum and Diversity. She also wrote books for early childhood teachers and conducted research for the New Jersey Department of Education. During these years she became fond of Anguilla and took several vacations to nowhere else but to ‘Tranquility Wrapped in Blue’ — the perfect spot for vacations. And here is where she became acquainted with our early Childhood teachers.”
Dr, Fleming Banks continued: “Mrs. Strasser was very instrumental in conducting noteworthy workshops with our early childhood educators. With Robert’s support and encouragement, she was able to support and encourage Anguilla’s preschool teachers. The couple would send books for children and so the teachers were able to develop their own library. After all these years, Janis still identifies herself as an Early Childhood Teacher.
“These two humanitarians, Robert and Janis, have committed themselves to the continued development of the passionate preschool teachers of Anguilla. So today, we observe the launch of the Robert and Janis Strasser Anguilla Preschool Teachers Scholarship at the University of the West Indies Open Campus Anguilla. This is the Strassers latest initiative in their continued support of preschool education on Anguilla. Thank you, Robert and Janis Strasser!”Also thanking the Strassers were the Chief Education Officer, Mr. Bren Romney, and the Minister of Education, Ms. De-Ann Kentish Rogers.
The first two scholarships were awarded to Teacher Doris Mead and Teacher Maureen Leslie-Adams. The Strassers also presented the Principals of all the preschools present with special gift bags.
Teacher Maureen Leslie-Adams spoke on behalf of Teacher Doris Mead and herself in expressing thanks as recipients of the first two scholarships: “I believe that training is a life-long process where one can learn new strategies and new ideas,” she said. “Teacher Doris and I, without a doubt, knew that we wanted to continue our educational journey. Hence, we are extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Strasser for affording us the opportunity to pursue our Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education Development and Family Service — at the University of the West Indies Open Campus Anguilla.
“It is with great pleasure that Teacher Doris and I accept this scholarship. We promise to work hard and complete our studies in this field. We intend to use the skills and knowledge learnt to continue nurturing and educating the young minds of Anguilla’s young children. Thank You!”