By Luciano Vera
After more than 22 years serving as a childcare provider at the Child Development Center on White Sands Missile Range, Milagros Watson is retiring and moving on to her next adventure.
“It’s all timing, my husband has health issues and I recently found out I’m having some health issues as well. So the plan is to spend time with my husband and travel.”
Watson, originally from the Philippines, came to America in the 1980s.
“I came with my husband who is now retired Navy. I was nervous to come here at first, it’s a small base and it was a new area. But we fell in love with White Sands and the area and we plan to stay here,” Watson said.
“I wanted to work, but I also have my own children and this was the perfect way to be there to raise my children and do something that I love. I have two girls one is 30 and one 28. They started in preschool and kindergarten here.”
Expanding her home to take care of more kids was time consuming and at times a challenge with her own daughters. So Watson made the move to the Child Development Center in 1995.
“Every so often they (my daughters) would get a little jealous for attention, but they understood and there was always more kids for them to play with. It’s so much better now because at your home you did everything, the cooking, the cleaning, and the curriculum. And here at the CDC it’s a big team and we help each other.”
Madeline Boone, CDC Assistant Director said it takes a lot for a person to dedicate a huge part of their life to being almost a second parent for kids.
“She was a huge asset to the CDC team, she has tons of knowledge and experience. She knew all the rules and procedures and was always willing to train the other employees.”
Watson says she learned quickly how different every single kid develops and how important it is to have a routine and structure.
“My favorite are the older ones because you can see them develop their independent side and I partner them up with the younger ones. They kind of become little mentors and helpers. I love to see the younger ones looking up to them and trying to copy them.”
Boone went on to say parents and kids of all ages are grateful for Watson’s dedication and the fact that she never gives up on the kids.
“Thank you for your hard work and all the memories. A lot of the kids from when she first started have grown up and she has had a huge impact on their lives and has been a role model for all my employees,” Boone said.
Watson had one final piece of advice to her fellow employees.
“It all starts right here. I would say smile and say hi to the kids every time you come in the morning. It will reflect a lot in how they act the rest of the day. And most important is don’t be afraid, don’t come in afraid because the kids will know.”