Beloved Warwick educator and early childhood education advocate Alice Freeman will be memorialized this spring with a bench and garden area in front of Warwick’s Drum Rock Early Childhood Center.
Freeman, or “Miss Alice” as she was known to most, passed away on June 28, 2012 at 73 years old. She began her career as a school psychologist at Meeting Street School and then moved on to the Warwick Public School system, where she worked for 41 years until her retirement in 2011.
“She was a pioneer in the field of early childhood education,” said Kathryn Keenan, former administrator at Drum Rock who worked with Freeman. “She advocated for 40 years for young children to get the services they needed.”
To honor Freeman and the work she did, Keenan and executive director of Volunteers of Warwick Schools (VOWS) Claire Flaherty came up with a plan to put a memorial granite bench in front of Drum Rock. Also, in honor of Freeman’s maiden name Violet, a number of violet flower bushes have already been planted in front of the school.
The committee has been collecting funds for the Alice Freeman Memorial since the fall and hopes to have a dedication ceremony for the bench in the spring.
“She was one of the strongest advocates for early childhood education. That in and of itself is memorable,” explained Keenan.
Flaherty worked with Freeman during Warwick’s Child Outreach Developmental Screenings; VOWS trains and certifies volunteers for the clinic and Freeman was assigned to work for the clinic. Flaherty fondly remembers Freeman working with the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds at the clinic.
“She personally met pretty much every child that came through the clinic,” explained Flaherty, adding that Freeman not only took an interest in the care of the student, but also their families.
Keenan also recalled Freeman being very close with all of the families of the children she taught, believing that it is the parents who would remember her the most.
“It’s the families who knew she was dedicated,” she said.
“She was an incredibly passionate person about her job, but she was compassionate as well,” said Flaherty. “She has a personality that was larger than life.”
According to Freeman’s obituary, the Ocean Point, East Greenwich-resident was a graduate of St. Xavier Academy, Salve Regina College and Rhode Island College. In addition to being a pioneer in early childhood education, including early intervention, Freeman also had a passion for working with special needs children.
Her advocacy extended to other organizations such as VOWS, Child Inc., and RI Family Shelter. As an animal lover, she also supported environmental, humanitarian and other non-profits.
Freeman was the daughter of the late Henry A. “Mickey” and Alice G. Violet. She is survived by her sister, former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene M. Violet, her brother Henry A. “Bud” Violet, her three children, Mark C. Freeman, Allison M. Herring and Bethany A. Tracy, and four grandchildren.
Those wishing to provide contributions to the memorial can send them to Drum Rock Early Childhood Center: Attention Alice Freeman Memorial, 575 Centerville Road, Warwick, RI 02886.