KANSAS CITY, MO — For 48 years, Ivera Fortune Williams, also known as Mrs. Vera, has opened her heart and her classroom.
“When they come through that door and they run to you, and they give you that hug across your legs, and then you pick them up and go into a melting mode in your arms, that's it,” Williams said.
The Kansas City Royals honored Williams at Saturday night's game.
She watched the Royals battle the San Diego Padres from the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.
It was an experience Vera says she is eternally grateful for.
“Confirmation of what I’ve been trying to do with the children and it’s like somebody else saw that too,” Williams said.
Williams knew at a young age she wanted to work with small children.
She watched her younger siblings while her parents worked during the summer.
Williams works at St. Marks Child and Family Development Center, Early Start Program, where she focuses her time in the 2-year-old classroom.
"They need some guidance, they need love, they need attention, they need nurturing,” she said.
Mrs. Vera tells KSHB 41 News she has a method to help teach kids more than just the alphabet and numbers.
“Conversation is the key thing, back and forth conversation. You meet the children where they are,” Williams said. “When you start with that, it’s going to follow them. They know with you doing what you do, they can love you, they trust you...and also it shows Mom when she brings them, this is a place that I can leave my baby and I know they are going to be okay.”
Matrika Hornsby, the assistant director at St Marks, Early Start Program, said she feels a sense of relief when her 2-year-old daughter enters Mrs. Vera’s classroom.
“She always comes home and says Mrs. Vera told her to be kind and she tries to say respect and things like that,” Hornsby said. “But Mrs. Vera is definitely instilling in her to be kind to others, to help others, to give love and that’s what Ms. Vera does is give love to all the kids.”
Matrika enjoys watching Mrs. Vera work with younger children.
“I’m like Mrs. Vera you want to sit down? You want me to get down there and she’s like no," Hornsby said. "She wants to be down with the children, she wants to talk to them, she wants to be engaged. She’s not worried about how long she’s been doing it or how old she is, she wants to be with the children.”
Mrs. Vera says working with children at her age isn’t as hard as people might think.
“Our thing is we sing to them and we know when they are small, put them on the side with the heartbeat,” said Williams. “And then your love for the children is a big help because you want them to do well, you want them to not be afraid because patience - if your voice is loud, is that going to help? Uh uh its not going to help.”